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Of the 75 December 1992 graduates of Northwestern University's integrated marketing communications master's program, 65, or 87%, have found jobs in their field. Here is a breakdown of their results. JOB STATUS, BY SPECIALIZATION: Have Not in No re Specialization jobs Looking market sponse Advertising 82% 9% 3% 6% Public relations 83% 17% -* -* Direct marketing 93% 7% -* -* Generalist 93% 7% -* -* MEDIAN SALARIES, BY FIELD: Marketing communications (42% of grads)$40,000 Direct marketing (20%)$40,000 Public relations (15%)$30,000 Advertising agency (23%)$26,500 Source: Northwestern University COLLEGE KIDS LEARN A DEGREE OF SYNERGY

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Every morning in Boulder, Colo., Mary Breslin's heart beats a little faster as she approaches her office at Celestial Seasonings.

That cup of the tea company's supercaffeinated Morning Thunder may contribute to Ms. Breslin's accelerated cardiovascular rate. But even without the tea, the December graduate of the University of Colorado's integrated marketing communications master's program finds her internship "magical."

"When I pull up in front of thebuilding, I get butterflies in my stomach. I just can't wait to get inside there," the 24-year-old says.

Ms. Breslin hopes to transform her internship, where she has worked with complete autonomy in event marketing, into an assistant brand manager's job in May.

As for the reason she got the internship: "My boss tells me he had a higher comfort level because I came from Boulder's IMC program. He knew I understand targeted marketing synergy and relationship building."

Dan Bowman, 25, who graduated from Northwestern University's IMC program in December 1992, has been able to carve his own niche at Sony Corp. of America in Park Ridge, N.J., despite it being what he described as a "corporation resistant to change."

He started a year ago as a new-business planner working with developing business from new technology.

"I didn't use my degree much for the first few months," Mr. Bowman says, "but now I am moving into a new area of tracking consumer trends and their impact on new products. I can see the two areas converging."

The two universities are at the vanguard of the academic movement toward multidimensional curricula in advertising and public relations, peripheral fields and marketing. Many other universities are jumping on the bandwagon.

The job market definitely has room for these graduates, education and industry experts say.

In a tight market, Northwestern boasts 87% of its first IMC graduating class (December 1992) found jobs by the following September.

Surprisingly, nearly twice as many of the advertising specialty graduates chose corporate jobs in marketing communications as agency jobs.

Forty-two percent accepted jobs in corporate marketing communications; only 23% have gone to ad agencies, 20% to direct marketing and 15% to PR.

Mr. Bowman considered agency work and rejected it with little hesitation.

"What role is advertising going to play in an interactive world where the consumer can decide what to look at?" he asks. "I felt most agencies just aren't enlightened enough. They don't realize the importance of the information highway."

Agencies like Chicago's Foote, Cone & Belding and Leo Burnett USA have never restricted hiring to ad school graduates. Instead, they look for "people with a passion for communication and insatiable curiosity, especially about how people's minds work," says Ashleigh Groce, a former VP at both shops who recently formed her own agency, APG & Partners.

On the other hand, Ms. Groce is an ardent advocate of IMC schools and a "broader-based education."

Tom Duncan, director of the IMC graduate program at the University of Colorado and chairman of an industry task force on integrated marketing communications, says clients are demanding more for their money.

"Clients are no longer content with buying ads and public relations. The focus now is the synergy that makes it all happen," Mr. Duncan says. "We [the schools] have to be more effective and more efficient in what we're offering in the job market."

The program has taken an unexpected turn for him and the 12 members of the university's first graduating class. Several of the December '93 graduates, like Ms. Breslin, already have jobs.

There's a growing trend toward postgraduate education. Those with undergraduate degrees who want jobs as creatives in big agencies are frequently disappointed.

The University of Texas reports only five of 56 advertising majors who graduated in May 1992 are working as creatives, though 53% of the class specialized in creative disciplines.

Walter Lubars, chairman of the School of Mass Communication & Public Relations at Boston University, agrees today's job market isn't easy, but contends, "Good kids always get good jobs."

Bruce Vanden Bergh, chairman of Michigan State University's Department of Advertising, recommends Atlanta's Portfolio Center as a "boot camp" for aspiring creatives ready to launch a job search blitz once they've finished their undergraduate work.

The Portfolio Center has one purpose, says Gemma Gatti, the 15-year-old school's president and founder: to help the student put together a portfolio that will produce job offers.

The slick, student-produced catalog says the Portfolio Center "starts where everyone else stops," attracting 300 "up and coming copywriters, art directors, designers, photographers and illustrators who didn't come here to get a job; they came here to get the job."

But not everyone approves of innovative educational systems.

Betsy Ann Plank, owner of Betsy Ann Plank Public Relations in Chicago, wrote a minority report as a member of the task force that examined integrated marketing communications for two years. She says advertising and PR are often at cross purposes. The marketing aspect of PR "by no means represents the full spectrum of the practice." Issues management, financial public relations, crisis management, employee communications and media relations are among aspects of PR not usually taught in the time-limited IMC programs, she says.

"Advertising today is in some trouble. It needs to shore itself up," she says. "But to try to subsume public relations is not realistic."

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