Fourth Estate/Madalyn Godfrey

What communication undergraduates can do to prepare for their first experience in the field.


Mason Alumni and Career Services Employer Engagement Consultant Philip Wilkerson has helped countless undergraduate students with career development and professionalism for over ten years. Although no longer in a role that meets with students, Wilkerson continues taking time to share advice with undergraduate students, including sitting down over Zoom with communication students in COMM 309, or Writing Across the Media.

Wilkerson started his professional career with uncertainty after graduating from James Madison University and began his career working with school systems in Northern Virginia. From working with schools, Wilker was inspired to obtain his master’s degree from Mason which led him to work as a Career Counseling Intern for Career Services in August of 2011. His role as a Career Counseling Intern led him to his current role.

Through this experience working at Career Services, Wilkerson emphasizes the importance of students taking the initiative to build portfolios in college, especially for those going into the communication field.

“I would advise students to not wait to create meaning,” Wilkerson said. “…do not wait for a job or internship to create content that’d be relevant on their portfolio. There’s a lot of opportunities to get that content and that experience without a job… because what’s really difficult is that a lot of times experiences need experience to get their foot in the door.”

An example of Wilkerson’s initiative to create meaningful content is his podcast, Positive Philter, where he shares motivational topics with the world; however, Wilkerson encourages students to volunteer with Mason’s Student Media department in organizations such as Fourth Estate, WGMU and Mason Cable Network. He mentions how students can “leverage” those experiences to gain internships and jobs by volunteering.

In addition, Wilkerson also encourages students to become familiarized with “NACE competencies.”

“I think there is a gap between proficiency and what students think they’re proficient in,” Wilkerson said. “Really that education in making sure that students are confident in articulating their skills and abilities to employers…So one thing I would encourage students of faculty members is to really familiarize themselves with NACE competencies…different skills that are applicable to all world of work…so that as they enter the workforce, they’re comfortable and confident in their abilities and able to jump right in.”

While Wilkerson focuses on portfolio-building and competency development as two ways for undergrads to prepare for first career experiences, before signing off from Zoom, Wilkerson makes it a point to extend the invitation for all students to use him as a resource for career development.

“I’m happy to support you…Please view me as a resource here at Mason to help you and help you in your journey as you continue on,” Wilkerson said.

Students interested in connecting with Wilkerson for further advice on career development may reach out to him on LinkedIn.