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A Journey from Opera to Strategic Communication

Ask Jin Han (’22SPS, Strategic Communication) to describe herself, and she’ll say she’s “a curious opera singer who discovered a love for user-centered design through strategic communications.” 

Han’s professional journey is certainly a unique one. She pursued a career in music before joining Columbia University Irving Medical Center (CUIMC) as an academic practice coordinator. While at CUIMC, Han decided she wanted to make a career pivot and enrolled in Columbia’s M.S. in Strategic Communication program, which she says sharpened her skills and helped prepare her for her current role as a design insights specialist in the consumer goods industry.

While Han eventually discovered a passion for working in strategic communications, her decision to transition from her music career was prompted by a painful life event.

Han earned an advanced degree in voice and opera studies from Longy School of Music of Bard College in Cambridge, Massachusetts. As her career was ascending in Boston, her mother died in Georgia but her busy performance and rehearsal schedule in Boston meant she wasn’t able to say goodbye. 

Realizing that opera could rob her of time with loved ones, Han reevaluated her priorities and decided on a career change. She joined Columbia University Irving Medical Center as an academic practice coordinator, managing physician schedules and overseeing their internal and external communications.

Learning the importance of effective communication in the workplace while mentored by CUIMC staff, Han decided to enroll as a part-time student in the M.S. in Strategic Communication program. Han credits the Strategic Communication program with teaching her about data analytics, investigative research, and storytelling, which enabled Han to navigate the challenges of the industry and articulate the compelling stories behind consumer data. The flexible design of the part-time path allowed her to work full-time while pursuing her degree.

Upon graduation, Han was committed to finding a career that drew upon her love for the arts while leveraging her passion for communications. In May 2023, Han landed a role as a design insights specialist at LG Electronics, a multinational company that manufactures home entertainment systems, mobile communication devices, home appliances, and other consumer and commercial goods.

“As a design insights specialist at LG, my role is to understand the needs and desires of consumers and translate identified insights into innovative design solutions,” says Han. “I distill complex user experience feedback and quantitative data into meaningful narratives to share with industrial designers, engineers, and business managers to help them make informed and user-centered design decisions.” 

Looking back at her time at SPS, Han offers this advice to students: “Approach everything with a mind that is wide open. Be creative, explore the subjects that spark your interests, and put your best effort into learning. Some say you must have a clear goal and know exactly what you want before and during the program, but it’s okay to be a little lost in the journey, because you might throw your hands up and shout ‘Eureka!’ at a very unexpected place and time. Just don’t give up, and be kind to yourself!”

About the Program

The business world’s around-the-clock communications challenges are demanding a new level of strategic thinking. Columbia University’s Master of Science in Strategic Communication graduates emerge equipped with all the essential skills and tools for a successful career in a wide range of communication fields. Applications are now open for fall 2024 enrollment.