Tarah DeSousa

Tarah DeSousa

Media Communications Strategist II


ACT

Milestones

Milestones

My road in life took a while to figure out.
I knew I wanted to be a writer since I could hold a pen. But what kind of writer? I wasn't sure.
I experimented with poetry, fiction, and nonfiction throughout high school. Decided on journalism.
I pursued my journalism degree at Iowa, while also obtaining a creative writing certificate.
Before I graduated, I didn't know if I wanted to be a journalist or a communications professional.
Because of my internship at ACT, I landed a job working in internal communications.
I liked my position in internal communications, but then a role in social media and PR opened up.
I decided to take the leap, despite my lack of PR experience, and I'm so glad I did.
I'm now going back to school for strategic communications in order to advance in the field of PR.
Keep following my journey
Education

Education

highschool
High School
George Washington High School
undergrad
Bachelor
Mass Communication/Media Studies
University of Iowa
graduate
Graduate
Strategic Studies, General
American University
Career

Career

Media Communications Strategist II

I help advance ACT's mission by creating and executing strategic communications initiatives.

Career Roadmap

Roadmap
My work combines:
My work combines:
Writing
Writing
Education
Education
Communicating / Sharing Stories
Communicating / Sharing Stories

Day to Day

A typical day for me includes monitoring the ACT brand, our competitors and the education industry as a whole on both social and traditional media. I relay information to our team members and/or to the general public or reporters, when questions arise on our products and solutions. I help write and edit press releases, communication plans, and social media campaigns, and garner earned media through partnerships with local nonprofits and community organizations.

Skills & Qualities Beyond School

I came into my position with no PR experience whatsoever. Having obtained a degree in journalism, I was taught to be wary of the PR professional and their "tricks" to circumvent the truth. I quickly learned how wrong I was about my newfound profession, so much so that I am now beginning my graduate degree in Strategic Communications to learn the technical skills of the trade. Beyond books, it's about asking questions, being willing to try (and fail) and learning from experts around you.

Advice for Getting Started

Here's the first step for college students

Take a job that may not be 100% "relevant" to your degree. You may find that it's the perfect position for you. If you hate it, you'll know exactly what you don't want to do. Experiment, don't be afraid to ask questions, and allow yourself to breathe. No one comes out of college knowing how to execute their first job. It's a maze, and you're supposed to fail (seriously, it's the best way to learn). Talk to everyone you can and build relationships. They will take you far in life!

Recommended Education

My career is related to what I studied. I'd recommend the path I took:

undergrad
Bachelor
Mass Communication/Media Studies
graduate
Graduate
Strategic Studies, General
Hurdles

Hurdles

The Noise I Shed

From Teachers:

"You shouldn't waste your intelligence on journalism - go into a STEM field."

Don't let parents, teachers, or even friends dissuade you from pursuing the education or career path you are passionate about. You know what drives you better than anyone else - so take the leap and follow your dreams, no matter the naysayers. If you find that it wasn't the right choice, reorient yourself and move on. It's never too late to "change course" and take a new road that excites you. Keep growing, learning and having fun!