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What Can You Do With a Public Relations & Advertising Major?

An Interview with Josuha Smyser-DeLeon (CMN '20)

​​​​You're no doubt passionate about what you're studying, but have you ever felt the pressure of what comes next? Perhaps that pressure comes from creating a plan to ensure you achieve your professional goals. Maybe you're still wondering what career paths are open to you in order to pursue a job that truly excites you. Either way, the alumni of the College of Communication are here to help you! This series of alumni interviews will showcase various careers you might want to pursue after graduation.

Let these alumni experiences guide you in using your ambitions and DePaul education to achieve success in the working world. 

The following is our interview with Joshua Smyser-DeLeon:

Joshua Smyser-DeLeon headshot.
Joshua Smyser-DeLeon

I am a Chicago native with a strong passion for public service, Puerto Rican culture and storytelling. I am a Government and Community Affairs Manager at Comcast. Before my role with Comcast, I worked as an Account Executive at Zeno Group with corporate clients, such as The Hershey Company, ScottsMiracle-Gro and Hyatt. I've also worked in local government and higher education, including past roles such as Communications Director for Chicago's 1st Ward Alderman, Daniel La Spata and as a Latinx Outreach Coordinator and Assistant Director of Alumni Relations for DePaul University.

Outside of my day job, I founded and host the Paseo Podcast, a bi-weekly podcast dedicated to highlighting stories by, from and about the Puerto Rican community. While in DePaul's public relations and advertising program, I began my podcast project to archive the stories of the Puerto Rican community throughout the world, which are rarely covered in traditional media. In my spare time, I volunteer with the Puerto Rican Agenda of Chicago and woodwork to create art pieces rooted in Latin American culture and representation.

I am a Double Demon. I earned my bachelor's degree, magna cum laude, in industrial organizational psychology in 2012 with a minor in community service studies and earned my master's degree, suma cum laude, in public relations and advertising (PRAD) in 2020. However, my graduation wasn't a “goodbye forever" to the university as I'm fortunate to currently serve as the co-chair of the inaugural Young Advisory Board for DePaul's College of Communication.

Who is your current employer, and what is your current position?

Government and Community Affairs Manager at Comcast.

What was your journey to your current employment?

I began my job during the pandemic, which was something I did not expect to do nor was I actively looking for new job opportunities, but I wasn't opposed to them, either. Working at Comcast all came down to regularly building and maintaining relationships – something that has always been baked into my personality. Through that habit, I connected casually with former colleagues who happened to work at Comcast, and they put the opening for the position I now have on my radar. They encouraged me to apply, I did, and the rest is history. Being open to new career opportunities was crucial then, because that mindset helped me attain a job with better work-life benefits that blends my passions for community organizations and local government.

What does a typical day of work look like for you?

A typical day for me begins with a homemade café con leche as I read Chicago and Illinois news that focuses on policy at the local and state level. I also listen to local podcasts that discuss policy and societal issues Chicago is facing today. I do this not only to stay up to date on local happenings, but to identify patterns and opportunities where Comcast could be a valuable partner in helping the City of Chicago, community organizations, schools and wards achieve their connectivity goals. The rest of my day consists of researching policy and distilling what it means internally, attending community events, developing effective ways to communicate our services and programs externally, and working with alderpersons to resolve service issues in their wards.

What is the most fulfilling part of your current position?

Working with community leaders and city officials throughout Chicago to identify partnerships where we can help bring internet access and adoption to divested communities and low-income households through programs like Internet Essentials and Lift Zones.​

What are the most valuable things you gained from your education with the College of Communication? How have they helped you get to where you are now?

It's hard to choose, because I felt everything was valuable in helping me get to where I am today. 

If I had to choose the most valuable, I'd say learning from and getting to ask questions of professors, who were experienced public relations professionals. I'd learn so much from hearing them share their real-world career experiences and challenges in the classroom. 

It was always captivating to me. Another couple would be developing case studies and learning how to refine my writing skills.

Is there a College of Communication instructor or professor who left an impact on you? If so, what did you learn from them?

It may sound like a cop-out, but I loved all my PRAD professors. Each one impacted the way I view communication differently. Some notable mentions include Maria De Moya, who taught me how to think critically about my role as a communicator and the ways it can positively and negatively impact people's lives; Ron Culp, who created space for me to discuss DE&I issues and opportunities in our field today; Matt Ragas​, who showed me what assets make up a successful case study and introduced me to my future boss; and Jim Motzer, who exposed me to different public relations and advertising agencies in ways that helped me determine that agency life was something I wanted to pursue.​

Is there a specific experience at DePaul as a whole that left a lasting impression on you?

Being able to help real-world clients with their communication challenges in the classroom was amazing. It gave me hands-on comms experience and showed how dedicated DePaul was to equipping me with experiential knowledge and not solely relying on educating me through theories. 

Additionally, many of my PRAD courses would host DPU alumni in the communications field, which provided great networking opportunities for me and insight into the variety of paths a career in communications could take.

What words of advice do you have for current students?

Make time for informational interviews. All it takes is a quick search on LinkedIn for a higher-up at a company you'd like to work for and messaging them to see if they'd be willing to meet with you for 15 to 30 minutes for coffee or lunch. During this time, you can ask questions about their career path (people love talking about themselves), the company they work for, what they are looking for in new hires, and if their company is currently hiring. 

Networking is not always easy for people, so try to challenge yourself to reach out to these professionals even if it feels awkward or weird to you - remember they were once in the job hunt like you were too. The effort is usually welcomed. You may not get an 100% response rate when reaching out to people, but really try to maximize your time with someone when you do. You never know where it might lead.

Th​e person you interview may offer to help you elevate your resume, recommend you for a position they are hiring for or another company they know is hiring, keep you in mind for future positions, or offer valuable career advice. In my case, an informational interview I conducted with a vice president at Zeno Group while in the PRAD program ended with them asking for my resume and recommending me for a position that I was eventually hired for. As someone with no agency experience at the time but loads of communication experience elsewhere, this was a blessing, due to the fact that most people like me begin as an intern at an agency. By pushing myself to do informational interviews, I was able to meet the right person that recommended me for a position four tiers above where new hires without agency experience begin.​

​You can connect with Joshua ​on LinkedIn or email him at for further information. 

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