Cafferty embarks on her master’s degree

Erin Cafferty, Class of '16

By Darcy Anderson

She unlocked her door, threw her backpack on the ground with a thud, and sat on the couch; exhausted from another full day of graduate school.

Erin Cafferty graduated this past May with a major in public relations and a minor in sociology. She worked mainly with The Tartan, even became the editor-in-chief. After a summer internship, she is back at Radford aiming to complete her master’s degree.

Coming to Radford in the beginning, Cafferty knew she wanted to be in the School of Communication. She applied to two other schools, but this was the only one that accepted her.

Cafferty started out as a media studies major, but changed to public relations after one semester. “I went to one basic news writing class and there was no creativity involved. The structure was very rigid and that’s not how I learned to write. So I figured I would do something different,” said Cafferty.

That was not the only thing Cafferty realized in her first semester. “I always was good in school so I thought, ‘I can do whatever this year.’ …I realized ‘oh crap, this is real life; I have to start doing this,’” she said. Cafferty’s GPA was very low at the end of her first semester here. It took the rest of her seven semesters to get above a 3.0 average. To accomplish that, she cut down on partying and reminded herself that she was here to learn as much as she could and graduate. “I paid a lot to go here and wanted to get the most out of here. I can party anywhere I want so I’d rather be serious here.”

While in her PR major, Cafferty was heavily involved with the Tartan. She started out as a writer, began training to be a section editor her sophomore year, was the managing editor her junior year, and the editor-in-chief during her senior year. “I worked a couple different jobs and went to classes and [the Tartan] … that was pretty much all I did,” she said.

Cafferty has been on the Dean’s List since Fall of 2014, received Rookie of the Year Award during her six-month time in the Whim as its marketing manager, and won the Staff Choice Award when she was editor-in-chief of the Tartan.

Jennifer Bennett, who was the Insights editor when Cafferty was editor-in-chief of the Tartan, said, “Having the opportunity to work with Erin was absolutely amazing. She is an incredibly supportive and encouraging person and an amazing leader.” Bennett has now moved up to the news editor position.

Maria Uzel, who was the scene editor at the time, said that Cafferty was cool, innovative, super optimistic, and came up with new ideas to recruit people. Maria is now in Cafferty’s place as editor-in-chief of the Tartan.

Cafferty’s work with the Tartan is what helped her most in life. She liked being in an organization, making decisions, and dealing with crises. “You get to actually see what you’re [going to] be like when you go out into the world and to see what kind of manager you are if you ever get into those positions. You don’t really know until you get in there,” said Cafferty.

Cafferty used her work with the Tartan to find an internship for the summer. “I applied to so many internships - pretty much anything that was paid,” she said. Her dad mentioned one that his coworkers knew about. Cafferty put in her resume, they interviewed her, and she got an advertising internship with the Washingtonian Magazine in D.C.

After graduating in May, Cafferty took a few days to pack everything up, went on a 10-day vacation with her family, then went straight into her internship.

She had to go to her internship every day doing research for the advertising representatives. A month later, an associate publisher in charge of marketing asked her to help out with events such as a “Bud and Burger Battle” doing permits. “It was definitely a good time,” she said.

Cafferty hoped she would continue working for them, but when July hit, she realized she missed school. “I’m one of those weird people that actually comes here and studies on weekends,” she said. She wanted to continue her education as well as be closer to her boyfriend of three years. He will be graduating for his bachelor’s degree in two years when Cafferty finishes her master’s degree.

So, Cafferty came back right after her internship was done in the middle of August. She is now pursuing a master’s degree in strategic communication.

As far as extracurricular activities go, for now Cafferty is the SOAR office graduate assistant. She does not want any other responsibility this semester; just wants to focus on school and work. She has considered going back to the Tartan or joining other clubs later on.

As far as her future goes, Cafferty wants to leave her options open because the Washingtonian internship came to her. She knows she wants to be comfortable, do something with communication, and enjoy the job she does. 

Nov 21, 2016
School of Communication