Questions from Communication Studies, Senior Capstone Students at University of Missouri- Kansas City

Guest Presenters:

Shaunda Parks, Honeywell, Director of Communications

Andrea Kirsch, MAKE Digital Group, Marketing Consultant/Founder & President

Presented to Assistant Professor Jason Martin, PHD, UMKC

Shaunda Parks, LinkedIN

A.Kirsch Likedin

Question & Answer Session 

If I’m more of a relationship based communicator, how can I show that I can also be logical and hardworking?

  • AK: Write it down. Make a point to recap your meetings, accomplishments and next steps plan. People like to be in the know and be prepared for the future. They enjoy working with proactive and responsible peers. Read daily and become educated on stats, analytical data, growth, ROI and conversion points. Write and help make each day better through your work. Trust is key in relationships and collaborating towards achieving the end goal.
  • SP: This is a great question. The key is knowing the other styles and where your style might stress other styles. For example, if a Red style likes things done right and blue styles like things done now, the relationship based person needs to be aware that urgency is key to those people. Process is also important to those people so if you’re someone who isn’t fond of filling out surveys, questionnaires, forms, etc., but someone relies on that to get their job done, you’ll need to flex and make it a focus. I have several assessments I can share that outline the styles and how to work with each one better if you want to email me.

What is your number one piece of advice for new graduates?

  • AK: Hard to get it down to one singular piece of advice. Maintain an updated resume and portfolio. Entertain all opportunities. Negotiate your salary. Tell people what it is that you want to do.  Over and over. Be early and stay late (early birds & late birds often get the worm). Take initiative and write everything down. Read daily and continue to learn and educate yourself.
  • SP: If your goal is to land a job, my advice is: Be assertive….network, get out and meet people, ask for informational interviews, pursue volunteer roles that will get you experience. I value someone who goes after what they want so if you don’t have experience to sell, then I’ll look at what you did above and beyond classwork because it shows you will hustle at work.

How do you get views on your website?

  • AK: To get views and users to look at your website, you have to work on an outbound marketing plan. For instance, you would send out an email newsletter inviting users to view your website. Or a Facebook group or message with the link back to your blog or web pages. To track views, you can use a tool like google analytics to see what is happening on your website.

Recommended reading, podcasts or authors for people in the communication field?

  • AK: There are a variety of professional associations, specialized groups, podcasts hosts, authors, bloggers, companies and influential writers to name. I have found that through continued reading, watching videos, and learning more within your area of focus helps you become more advanced, but profecient and effective. Your peers will revel at your ability to hone in on your intrinsic view of your profession, passion and careers.
  • If you’re seeking a reading list:
    • Gary Vaynerchuk, Seth Godin, Simon Sinek, Amy Porterfield, Watch TedX talks, Shark Tank, Marcus Lemonis, Tony Robbins, Tim Ferriss, Guy Kawasaki, Dave Ramsey, Suzie Orman, Jeff Besos. I could go on and on. I’ve read countless business books, editorial magazines, listened to and subscribed to podcasts, webinars, email newsletters. Join associations and professional organizations that pertain to your career interests and meet like minded professionals (and future/potential bosses).

What was the most difficult thing about starting your own business?

  • AK: Feeling comfortable with making the leap. Someone asked me, what will you do if it doesn’t work out? My answer: I’d get a job. And that’s what I’ve been doing–getting a steady job over and over again by servicing clients. The financial aspect, has to be covered. Having a solid plan. Obtain a ‘anchor’ client that will help fund your transition for a certain amount of time. Remind everyone, over and over, what it is that you do, so they can keep you in mind for the future. Benjamin Franklin said, “Fail to plan, plan to fail”. Believing in yourself and persevering when you’re told NO. (Because being told NO happens a lot when you run a business.)

What’s more important in a new hire: experience or skills?

  • AK: Both are highly valuable and work hand-in-hand. The most important soft-skill you can enhance is communication (both speaking and listening). From there, experience and skills (training) can be taught or shown. Natural abilities to listen to clients/peers, communicate effectively and listen to others is very important for any career or workplace.
  • SP: experience helps you hone your skills so experience first to strengthen your skillset.

How do you identify who to address a cover letter to when applying for jobs?

  • AK: Dear Hiring Manager…
  • SP: If you aren’t able to get the name of the hiring manager, then a generic Sir or Madam is fine or to the hiring manager.

What is your purpose in life other than business?

  • AK: Family, friends, faith, wellness, dogs, travel and enjoying good company. My business was started at 21, out of a need to serve clients with marketing challenges. My purpose in life is to help others around me. I do that through my work daily and am very fulfilled with my work.
  • SP: business is a means to an end. The purpose in life is to have fun. I travel a lot, which means I work so that I can enjoy different cultures and experiences. Raising my daughters gives me the most purpose.

How do I find a job that is a good fit for me?

  • AK: Figure out first, what it is that you are passionate about. The quote, live to work, not work to live, resonates with me. Experience and exposure to careers and roles will help you identify what is a good fit. You’ll learn what work you like and what you don’t. By getting practice and training you can determine what long-term jobs are a good fit for you.
  • SP: First know what you’re interested in doing then consider what the company does…will that interest you? Then know what you will be expected to do in the job. Most interviewers give you a chance to ask questions in an interview. ASK QUESTIONS! It shows you’re engaged. Ask about the company culture, ask the manager about their management style, ask about the team dynamic and make up. Ask how the company measures performance. If you’re excited at the end of the interview then you know it’s a good fit. But you may have to learn the hard way by taking a few jobs first and learning. I did. I learned that I didn’t want a certain job after I ‘worked’ the job. I learned that one particular setting didn’t give me broader opportunities for other skills I wanted. It’s ok to take jobs that are stepping stones to others.

What role does content marketing play in your company?

  • AK: Content is “king” as they say. To me, that means that it is a vital part of your company’s brand. Many companies are being forced to invest in content and publishing rich marketing materials. It is important to publish your work as well as to create a repository of your content to reference for internal use.

What makes an effective product of content marketing?

  • AK: Effective product of content marketing would be based on a variety of metrics. 1) Sales 2) Growth 3) Goals/Milestones Hit 4) Product Launched 5) Customer Satisfaction

What is the first step when branding a company or product?

  • AK: Product/Market Differentiator- what makes your product or brand stand out? First step, developing the story/narrative. This is the elevator pitch scenario. Have a good name, with an available URL/domain, and business cards. Figuring out your long term brand promise, mission and ideal customer/client. Knowig how it is your wanting to serve will help fill in a lot of blanks along the way.
  • SP: For my branding effort, our key was consistency and serving as the brand police to make sure the new brand stuck. It takes a lot of work on corporate branding but companies change names all the time.

Are you hiring international students?

  • AK: We hire US and international students for various marketing/agency and web development careers.
  • SP: Diversity is important to us and we have several employee resource groups for Hispanic employees, women and African American employees. Our business hires US citizens only because of the classified work we do on behalf of the government.

Is going to a news station to shadow a producer for a day a resume worthy activity to mention?

  • AK: Yes! Shadow/serve as an apprentice as often as you have a break in your schedule (Holiday Break/Spring/Summer). You’ll meet and greet with professionals and be exposed to the real work environment. You’ll learn what you enjoy and duties that maybe aren’t your favorite or forte.
  • SP: Don’t just shadow. Be proactive and ask if you can write a story for them…then use that as part of your portfolio/writing samples. Even if they didn’t use it.

Do you like working in Kansas City?

  • AK: Absolutely! We were recently ranked #2 best city for Women in Tech. KC values diversity, technology and the cost of living is affordable. I love the local arts, music, food and sports entertainment. We are in the middle of the map and have good midwestern values. It’s a hotbed for flourishing history, culture and
  • SP: Yes, it’s a great town, but I wish I had moved after college to experience other cities.

(What work should I do if I don’t like people?)

  • AK: Work remote or select a career where you work for yourself or independent.
  • SP: newspaper delivery, parking ticket attendant, waste management…they all require no interaction whatsoever. If you’re not a people person, I recommend reconsidering a career in communications, HR, marketing, etc.


Quick Links

Helpful links and resourceful marketers and associations to reference. These are just a few for you to review. There are numerous specific niche marketers and brands to follow throughout the U.S.


Gary Vaynerchuk, Seth Godin, Simon Sinek, Amy Porterfield, Sheryl Sandberg, Marcus Lemonis, Mark Cuban, Tony Robbins, Tim Ferriss, Guy Kawasaki, Dave Ramsey, Suzie Orman, Jeff Besos, Neil Patel, Heidi Cohen, Jennifer Polk, Ann Handley.

National News: Harvard Business Review, New York Times, Forbes, Inc, Mashable, The Atlantic, Inc., Entrepreneur Magazine,


International Association of Business Communicators (IABC)
Social Media Club of Kansas City (SMCKC)
American Marketing Association (AMA)
American Advertising Federation- Kansas City (AAFKC)
Kansas City Women in Technology (KCWIT)
Kansas City Search Engine Marketing Association (KSSEMA)
Kansas City Direct Marketers Association
Mercury Association UMKC


UMKC Education
Master of Business Administration (MBA)
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Intensive Full-Time MBA
Bloch and Beyond
Graduate Programs | Master of Business Administration (MBA)

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Kahn Academy
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