Joy Walker

Get to know some of our College of Media students! Joy Walker is a Class of 2024 advertising major with a minor in public relations.

Why did you choose to major in advertising? 
I was really interested in the business field as a whole and the more I looked into different degree options, the more advertising stuck out. I like that it’s not just about numbers, it looks at the “why,” meaning what makes people buy things. Advertising takes into account the sociology of sales and what draws people to purchase one thing over another, which I’m interested in.

Why did you choose to minor in PR?
Initially it was just a suggestion from my advisor, given the classes that were needed to fulfill my major and what would fit my schedule. I declared the minor to get access to one specific class, which I really ended up loving so I decided to keep it because it works well with my major and I really like the PR side of advertising.  

What has been your favorite experience within the College of Media?
I really enjoy my classes and I’ve had some awesome instructors. I think the highlight would be hearing from their experiences and being able to break down how different campaigns work. I’ve also learned skills that I feel like are actually very transferable to real life. I’ve even been able to apply some skills that I’ve learned in my classes to my current job. It’s a lot of practical education that I enjoy.

You mentioned a current job—what do you currently do?
I’m a veterinary nurse at U of I’s pet hospital. This is actually my second degree. I felt like doing a career change because I’ve been a nurse for eight years and I wanted to get a bachelor’s in some business field. 

How did you know it was time for a career change?
Constant growth is important to me and I was at a point in my career where a business-related bachelor's degree would help me take the next step. I wasn’t completely sure what I wanted that next step to be, but taking classes at Illinois has helped me evaluate several different potential routes forward and provided me with the qualifications needed.

What advice would you give other students who think they may want to shift directions in terms of majors/careers?
I would advise students to look at the big picture and realize that most majors/careers have a lot of transferable skills. At a glance, the technical skills of my current career are niche and non-transferable. However, the leadership, organizational, communication, and management skills I have acquired, are. Don't box yourself in or think you've gone too far to change. If you see a better opportunity out there, work towards it!

What’s your favorite class you have taken?
It’s one that I’m currently in, the Sandage Project. I really enjoy the Sandage Project because it gives students the structured freedom to put into practice the skills learned from other classes. It’s exciting to work in a pseudo-agency setting and create something that could have a real impact on the community.

What are you most proud of in your time as a College of Media student?
I’ve definitely been able to develop my ability to present because my public speaking skills have improved. Also, my ability to analyze a situation and see the big picture impact. I just feel like my logical and cognitive skills have really improved.

What is your biggest piece of advice to other College of Media students?
Listen to your advisor. Mine has definitely had a massive impact on my career and made some great suggestions for classes. Secondly, get involved. Whether that’s in your classes or with AAF or anything. Talk to your professors. Go to office hours. They have a lot of knowledge and they want to share it with you so you’re doing yourself a disservice if you don’t learn from them.

—Interview by Rhia Thakkar, New Voices Intern