The College of Media & Communication is excited to introduce a new Q&A series to its readers: the Young Alumni Spotlight. This series celebrates our more recent graduates that are professionally navigating an ever-evolving media and communication field and beyond. We're equally excited to kick the series off with an alumna who has a taste for world exploration and has found her way back to Texas Tech University to help others find theirs, Lanna Sheldon.
Major and Year of Graduation:
Electronic Media and Communications; Spanish - 2012
What was your first job out of college?
National Program Administrator for Marathon Kids in Austin, Texas. I helped coordinate large events all over the country as our non-profit joined forces with public schools nation-wide to implement running/health programs for children.
What is your current job and location?
Coordinator for the TTU Center in Sevilla. I'm based in Lubbock, but I relocate to our campus in Sevilla, Spain during the summer.
When you came to college, what was it you wanted to do after graduating? How does that differ, if any, from what you do now?
I dreamed of owning a Christian music video production company. In preparation for my preview day as a high school senior, I called the College of Media & Communication and was quickly transferred to Dr. Todd Chambers. He set up an appointment for my visit and gave me a private tour of the CoMC building. I was so impressed with the level of care that was shown to me as a prospective student! I was amazed with how technologically advanced the college was and instantly knew I had found where I belonged. While I have never accepted an industry-specific job, nearly all positions in any industry require strong communicators, and I have been able to use the skillset I learned at the college in every job I have had.
You love travel and do it quite a bit for your work. What attracted you to merge a passion for travel with your professional life?
I had no idea I would fall in love with the world like I did–the people, the food, the colors, the oceans! Studying abroad was my first time to leave the United States, so I absorbed everything like a sponge and realized there are so many opportunities out there if you are willing to veer off the beaten path. I thrive in new situations and crave the challenge of the unknown. Once I learned how to earn money while travelling, I was able to feel at home no matter the coordinates.
You've come full circle back to Texas Tech while working for Study Abroad. What's that like? Tell us about your role with the TTU Center in Sevilla.
As the coordinator for the TTU Center in Sevilla, I connect with students as they navigate their international journeys. I am there with them as their counselor to offer support as their excitement and curiosity builds in Lubbock, and then I get to see firsthand these experiences come to life in Spain as students are impacted and molded by their own adventures abroad. I will forever be invested in the richness of what the TTU Center offers all students at Texas Tech. Being allowed to play a small role in the many successes students encounter there is an honor of a lifetime.
Are you a goal-setter? If so, what are a couple professional goals you would like to achieve as you dive more into your career?
I am currently pursuing my master's degree and am eager to develop my skillset at the graduate level! I am rather nomadic by nature, and I thrive with change. I believe it is important to not become complacent in one particular job, so I periodically challenge myself with new personal/professional goals to combat growing tired with a job or location. In my 20s, if I believed I was about to plateau or become complacent, I would move to another country or backpack Asia. My options are slightly more limited now as I mature professionally, which is why my current job offers the perfect blend of stability and travel.
What was the most transformative experience you had in CoMC? How does that experience factor into your life today?
During Summer 2010, I joined CoMC's Dean Hudson and Dr. Kent Wilkinson at Study Abroad at the TTU Center in Sevilla and took International Advertising and Global Communications courses. In a non-clichéd manner, that single summer changed everything for me. It refreshed my perspective of how grand our world is and how many ripe opportunities are awaiting us all. That very hot summer abroad expanded my networking web and shifted my educational goals to incorporate Spanish so I could pursue bilingual communications endeavors post-graduation. I am still on that path today!
What's the most surprising thing you had to adjust to out of college?
I was surprised with how easy it was to network. I emailed and called executives of media companies in Austin and would invite them to coffee to learn about their successes. About one fourth of them responded to me and though we were complete strangers, they appreciated the gesture and a few even took the time to meet with me. I was on the job market for three weeks before I landed my first dream job! Networking never gets easier; you just get better at it.
Considering both your experience during college and as a professional, what advice do you have for CoMC students now?
Learn a second language! Being bilingual expands your audience, regardless of where in the industry you are reaching. Although being bilingual will help you land more jobs, learning another language is also very personal. With this skill, you'll be able to impact more people because you simply share a language. It is powerful and it will be one of the greatest decisions you make!
Study abroad! Get out of your comfort zone and see how other cultures thrive. Not only will you have an amazing experience, you will also learn to respect yourself and other people from this learning opportunity. These types of experiences are invaluable to your prospective employers!
Who was your favorite professor and why? Likewise, what was your favorite class in the college?
What an impossible question. I had so many rockstar professors and mentors during my time in CoMC. If I absolutely must choose...
Dr. Kent Wilkinson because he recruited me to go on his program to Spain and that pivotal summer was a game changer. He introduced me to see how communications and Spanish blend so beautifully together in the industry.
Dr. Jerod Foster because I've taken 30,000 photos around the globe and he taught me how to do it! Because of his classes, I learned to recognize and capture the stories that will tell the tales of my adventures for many more years.
When you see Texas Tech or CoMC swag out in the wild, you…
… get that sudden reminder that you were and will always be part of something amazing.