After graduating from Bowling Green University in Ohio with a communications degree, Chris Menzie was skeptical about becoming a journalist since it’s incredibly competitive and difficult to land a job. The industry was folding; however, he realized the field is what he liked and wanted to do.
“I made a choice to do whatever it takes to get my foot in the door. I thought it was a really good option for me to head into the military, and get the experience that I needed. Not only did I get specialist training, but also hands-on experience and I got paid a regular salary,” says Menzie.
From 2005 to March 2011, he was enlisted in the U.S. Navy – then moved to San Diego after being stationed with the Navy Sea Shore, headquartered in Coronado, as a mass communication specialist.
After discharge, he decided to stay in San Diego and look for work. However, he knew about the GI Bill and decided to investigate going back to school.” It was an easy choice for me. I decided to take the Digital and Social Media certificate program at SDSU. There are other schools in this area, but SDSU’s program offers a certificate from an accredited university, and I got the GI Bill to pay for everything,” he says.
“I like how flexible the program was. It was convenient with a professional schedule – the classes were at 6 pm weekdays or 9 am Saturdays. I really liked that. It was like being able to continue doing what I’m doing during the day and still take classes at night. Another thing that surprised me about the program was that classes were taught by professionals.
And, there were other students in my classes who had been journalists for 22 or 25 years, and they were reinventing themselves or upgrading what they already knew.” Classes at SDSU are taught by industry professionals and those instructors bring hands-on experience to the classroom. “The SDSU instructors do not just say here is the theory of what you are learning, but rather say ‘I’m going to show you how to use something, this is how I use something.’ They help you use your skills. For me, that was really helpful and it was a breath of fresh air compared to courses that I took in college.”
Earning a certificate in digital and social media, Menzie thought would help him land a job. “Everything for communication is digital now, and telling a story is more than just being able to write, you have to know how to take pictures and put together audio visual slideshows. I learned a lot about social media from the military, but I also needed to take a look at what the civilian world was doing and prepare myself with the newest, latest and greatest trends.”
Today, Menzie works in public affairs for the Veteran’s Administration San Diego Health Care System. “I was hired in May. I started the Digital and Social Media program in March. One of my duties is social media manager,” he says. “I learned the tools I currently work with in the program. The courses gave me a better way to do things and make it faster.
There are always ways of learning new things from people. Don’t be afraid to get out there and put a little extra time either improving yourself or picking up the things to fill the gap between what people are using and what you should know.”