Kimberly De Silva-Illesinge

This master is very intense, I did not expect this when I applied.

Master of Arts in Communication, San Diego State University

Class of 2011 (Graduated in 2014)

What was important in making up your mind?
I fell in love with San Diego when I was here on exchange (the lifestyle, the weather, the culture). The location was definitely important in my decision-making process when looking for master degrees. I wanted to study in San Diego and, more specifically, at San Diego State University. In addition, I wanted to pursue a master degree in communication.

What made you decide to choose for this master?
First, as I said, going back to San Diego was one of my main goals. Moreover, the Master in Communication at SDSU is ranked nr. 1 for communication-only masters in the U.S. It is also in the Top 10 masters for communication in general in the United States. The faculty includes prominent professors in the field of communication research. Additionally, the masters program only accepted a limited amount of people (30 – 40 master students), making sure to have small and personal classes, as well as close relationships with the faculty.

How would you describe the connection between IBCoM and your work?
My master builds on my IBCoM knowledge of communication, however the media aspect is not very prominent. I felt a lot more prepared for conducting research then the students who did their bachelor in the USA. I was well versed in methods, including quantitative and qualitative research methods. Many students had never heard of SPSS or engaged in data collection. Since we have to write a thesis, I was prepared for all the original research I have to conduct for this master degree. Interestingly, my bachelor in Europe prepared me more for the master in the USA, than the American bachelor would have.

How would you describe your master?
This master is very intense; I did not expect this when I applied. The bachelor courses I took at San Diego State were a lot easier than the courses we had during IBCoM, however the master courses were a whole other level. It was much harder and busier than I initially thought it would be. It is also very writing intense, as you write final papers (of about 25 pages) for every course you take, instead of taking exams. It is focused on writing viable research papers that could turn in to journal publications and conference presentations. I have learnt a lot about communication paradigms, theories, methods and so on. Finally, my writing skills have significantly increased.

In hindsight, what would you have liked to have known before, what you know now?
This master is really focused on the academic route, as apposed to the practical/industry route. In every seminar/course, we write papers that can be submitted to conferences and journals. The faculty emphasizes the processes of becoming a PhD student, as well as a professor after the MA degree. I would have liked to see more information and emphasis on using communication in the “real-world” as many of us want to leave academe and start working at corporate companies.

Any other points you’d like to add?
I was hired as a Graduate Teaching Associate, which means that I teach Public Speaking freshmen at San Diego State University. I have had 60+ students every semester for the past two years and it has definitely increased my practical communication skills. I am now very comfortable with standing in front of a classroom, giving presentations, giving feedback and making lesson plans. Without this experience, I would not have appreciated my Master degree as much as I do now.

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