Real Story: Danielle Barber

Danielle Barber

CSM Class of 2022, Communication Studies Headshot of CSM graduate Danielle Barber

Current Job Title: Outreach Specialist, CSM Nonprofit Institute
Transfer Institution: University of Maryland Global Campus
Accolades, Accomplishments, and Highlights: CSM Distinguished Honors in Communication award recipient; participant, Work-Based Learning pilot session

I started my college education not fully knowing what degree or career to choose after leaving high school. I attended CSM so I could have extra time to decide on both while pursuing a general education degree. I was also somewhat familiar with the institution from doing Kids' & Teen College and completing my driver’s education with CSM.

I learned about CSM’s Work-Based Learning program after taking the class Writing and Editing for the Web. It wasn't a required course; I took it out of interest. The class was taught by Cara Fogarty, who mentioned in an email to the class email that CSM’s Nonprofit Institute connects students with volunteer opportunities. When I emailed her to request more information, she offered me a part-time paid internship with the Nonprofit Institute, based on the quality of my work in the class. I later learned that this internship was part of the Work-Based Learning program.

My Work-Based Learning internship was exactly what I needed to establish a direction for my education and professional life. Educationally, I realized that I made the right choice by pursuing a communication studies degree. (I had switched over to this degree just before starting the internship.) During the internship, I noticed that my degree choice aligned with my work. I knew that I could continue writing informational articles and creating social media content in future jobs within the communications field.

Professionally, I realized that I could pursue work within the nonprofit world. Before doing the internship, I had only considered working within the communications field. However, I learned that there are many nonprofits in Southern Maryland, which contribute significantly to the local economy. This has allowed me to consider working within the nonprofit world as a real option that I had not previously known about.

The internship made me realize that getting an associate degree in communication was my best first step. I am continuing that path by pursuing a bachelor’s degree in communication studies at the University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC). The internship also made me hopeful about incorporating social media and writing into my working career. It made me realize that being skilled in both is valuable in the working world and desirable to future employers.

After completing my internship, I started my current job as the Nonprofit Institute’s Outreach Specialist. I continued working at CSM for several reasons, not least of which is that my job experience at the Nonprofit Institute has been such a positive one. My supervisor and colleagues have been kind, friendly, helpful and respectful towards me.

My present job position allows me to continue improving my current skills and learning new ones. I've also been able to apply my writing skills by summarizing information collected from nonprofit websites and contacts into short articles showcasing Southern Maryland nonprofits.

In turn, I have better chances to access future job opportunities in my career field. Working in my current position also enables me to meet new people at CSM and in the local nonprofit community, which may lead to future volunteering and job opportunities.

When I began my Work-Based Learning internship as a student, I had no idea that it would become an extended job opportunity. When I first received the job offer from my supervisor, I felt excited about continuing my work with the Nonprofit Institute and hopeful about the future of my professional career.

My time at CSM has changed the direction of my life and given me an invaluable opportunity to begin my professional career. I was able to decide which degree to pursue and establish a general career direction that suits me. If I had not attended CSM, I wouldn't have had as many opportunities to gain work experience or networking connections to build my working career upon.

Aside from completing my bachelor’s degree in communication studies at UMGC, I will continue working with the Nonprofit Institute. In the meantime, I will explore educational and professional resources to establish a more solid direction for my future career. I will also improve my skills in writing and social media, as well as learn new ones for future job positions. Additionally, I hope to connect with people and nonprofits through the college and local community.

If I were giving advice to potential college students, I would reassure them that it's okay to not know what degree and/or career to pursue. It is okay to feel overwhelmed about making decisions on both. But fear should not stop them from starting to figure out which choices are right for them. Making any progress, no matter how much or little is better than none.

Additionally, I would tell students to find value in the skills they have, even if the skills seem trivial or basic.

I would also emphasize the importance of doing assignments well and getting good grades. Professors genuinely appreciate when students put effort into their assignments and are more willing to give advice or educational and professional opportunities.

Finally, I wish to thank the people in my life who have enabled me to pursue my educational and professional opportunities. Without the help of these people, I would not have been able to enter the next phase of my life. I want to thank my parents for funding my ability to attend college as well as for being an abundant source of love and support. I also want to thank Cara Fogarty and Michelle Sullivan for encouraging me to grow professionally. They gave me the chance to gain work experience in my degree field and start my professional career.

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Last updated: 4-3-23

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