“More of a Journey Than a Destination”

Headshot of Delana Haglund

The words most effective at inducing anxiety for any recent college graduate in their early twenties are ‘what’s next?’ As a recent graduate in her early twenties, Delana Haglund (BA ‘19, communication studies) is refreshingly honest in her answer.

“I’m a very indecisive person,” she explains with a chuckle, “so I kind of view my career path as more of a journey rather than a destination.”

Setting a Course

When Haglund left the University of Minnesota campus for the final time as an undergraduate student, there were an infinite number of career paths for her to follow. But the question was which one should she travel? 

Nearly two years later—now a digital marketing specialist at Hamline University—Haglund is comfortable not knowing what her end goal is yet. She welcomes opportunities to continue learning and uses skills gained as a College of Liberal Arts (CLA) student to guide her to new endeavors. 

Haglund felt that committing to a major with limited flexibility was not for her when she started her journey at the University as an undecided major. “I didn’t want to graduate and feel like I was trapped in a box,” she says. In the end, she graduated with a BA in communication studies and a minor in cinema and media culture. Along with a love for writing, Haglund chose to study communications studies because “in any career, you have to be able to communicate effectively.”

In addition to the ability to effectively communicate, Haglund notes that communication studies “taught me how to be more empathetic and compassionate and view things from other people’s point of view.” The abilities she gained from studying communications at the University are applicable in her work today. 

A Researcher

Along with her studies, Haglund acquired many useful skills through two research assistant opportunities. Her first extracurricular experience was through the CLA Dean’s Freshman Research and Creative Scholarship. As a research assistant her freshman year, she transcribed interviews and pulled quotes for School of Music Professor Matthew Rahaim, for the book Voice Cultures: Indian Traditions of Resounding Virtue.

Haglund sought another research assistantship after declaring her communication studies major the summer after her second year, finding an opportunity applicable to her major through an email that she received from CLA. Working with graduate student Amy Mulawa, Haglund transcribed videos and took notes for an interpersonal communication experiment. “It’s really cool to see how they conducted their research,” Haglund says. “There’s no beakers or chemicals... I never thought to research people talking to each other.” 

Both assistantships built up the skills Haglund continues to rely on in her current career endeavors even years later. “I still do research for my job,” she explains, “and so, seeing research teams work and working in a research team really helped me with that.”

The Catalyst

However, it was actually Haglund’s internships in CLA, specifically in the college’s marketing and communications office, that were the “biggest catalyst for my first job and my next job after graduation.” The office hired Haglund as an editorial assistant intern during her second year at the University. Later on, her role was changed to a communications assistant where she had additional responsibilities. These positions provided Haglund an outlet for her love of writing and helped her build on her professional communications as she became a storyteller, writing feature articles for the College.

Besides writing, Haglund was also heavily involved with the team’s social media output, content selection, and data analytics—the last of which would become a critical component of her work after graduation. “That was my first intro to [data analytics] and now that’s going to be a huge part of my role [at Hamline]...tracking Google analytics and making data-informed decisions.”  

She emphasizes that these opportunities provided her with much more than technical skills. Haglund was able to connect with professionals in the communications field whom she could depend on for career guidance. “The advisors and the supervisors that I had were really pushing for me to build my skill set and build my resume up. I didn’t even realize it at the time, but they were so helpful,” she says. “And I stayed in touch with them, they helped me, they would send me jobs that they thought would be relevant.”

“I Just Want to Keep Learning and Keep Enjoying What I Do”

Haglund’s career journey so far has led her back to familiar territory. As a digital marketing specialist, she uses many skills she first accrued in her early days as a Gopher: communicating, collecting data, and managing content. “I had such a positive experience working in the marketing and communications office at CLA that it’s no surprise that I’m working in another marketing department today.”

And the destination? As it stands, Haglund is in no rush to settle on a permanent career choice. “What if I reach that at 30? What then? I’ve done the thing, where do you go from there? I just want to keep learning and keep enjoying what I do.” If her future is anything like her past, Haglund will continue to make the most of every opportunity and acquire invaluable experience doing so. “I don’t know what I’m going to end up doing, but I know what I like right now, and I’m probably going to like what I do next.”

This story was written by an undergraduate student in CLA.

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