Eastern Kentucky University Communication Studies alumni work in a variety of fields across the country. Today’s spotlight brings us to the United States Department of Transportation in Washington, DC.
Kaisee Riddell graduated from EKU in 2019 with dual degrees in communication studies and political science. She went on to get her Master of Public Affairs (MPA) from Indiana University in 2021 and now works as a Management and Program Analyst at the United States Department of Transportation, Office of Inspector General (DOT OIG).
Choosing this Career
During her time at EKU, Kaisee decided she wanted to work in the public sector because of how interconnected government is with our daily lives. While studying for her MPA, she discovered the federal government offered a lot of internships and got accepted to intern at DOI OIG. After an amazing internship experience, she was offered the permanent position she has today. Kaisee shared that every major federal agency has an OIG, as well as many smaller agencies. This community works to perform audits and investigations of government programs to prevent fraud, waste, and abuse which resonated with Kaisee’s ultimate career goal of improving people’s lives through the way that government interacts with them personally.
In her current position, Kaisee works on performance audits, which essentially determine to what extent a government office is following applicable laws, regulations, and policies. This may include researching different offices and their work, determining which laws/regulations/policies apply to the office, interviewing personnel, analyzing documents or data, documenting findings, writing recommendations for improvements, and crafting all of the information found into a final report. An example of this work can be seen here in Kaisee’s first audit report.
Application of Communication Studies
Not a day goes by that Kaisee is not using the skills she learned throughout her time in the communication studies program. While her peers are often intimidated by interviewing agency officials, she came in with a leg up because of her knowledge of creating effective interview questions and projecting confidence when speaking. She has also been given additional opportunities to present externally due to her strong presentation skills. One of the most relevant courses to her career has been Research Design (CMS 305) because she does a lot of reading, writing, and analyzing in her day-to-day work. Additionally, Communication in Conflict Management (CMS 325) and Small Group Communication (CMS 310) are constantly relevant and have helped her to navigate difficult situations in the work environment.
Advice for Current CMS Majors
For CMS majors who are interested in a career in public service, Kaisee recommends looking for internships in government in order to build your resume. She interned with the Kentucky Secretary of State and House of Representatives during her time at EKU, but local governments and non-profits are also good places to look for opportunities. She also recommends leaning on the resources EKU has to offer, such as your professors, the career office, alumni, and peers. Most importantly, she suggests jumping on any opportunities that present themselves to you, as you never know where they may lead.
Interested in advancing your career?
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