With no idea what she wanted to study, When Carla Craig (’07) began her college career, she had no idea what she wanted to study. So purposefully took courses in various disciplines, explaining, “I found that I really enjoyed my communication classes, and I was really drawn to the field. I also loved that communication was a major that didn't require me to further my education in order to establish a respectable career path, and also that it left me with many options for different types of careers.”
Since graduating from Messiah with a B.A. in communication (public relations and advertising concentration) and minor in psychology, Craig has succeeded in establishing a successful career, working as Communication Manager for the Autism Services, Education, Resources, and Training Collaborative, ASERT. “ASERT is a partnership of medical centers, centers of autism research and services, universities and other providers of services involved in the treatment and care of individuals of all ages with autism and their families, and is funded by the Bureau of Autism Services, PA Department of Public Welfare,” she said. Craig, whose position is housed at Penn State College of Medicine in Hershey, Pa., noted, “I love that I am contributing to the greater good by working for an organization that makes a real difference in the lives of people with autism in Pennsylvania.” Inspired by her brother, Calvin, who has autism and an intellectual disability, Craig has spent the entirety of her career thus far in the disability services field. “One of my primary responsibilities is managing ASERT's statewide resource website www.PAautism.org, so I spend a lot of time at my computer creating, editing, and updating content on the website,” she said. She also enjoys traveling to various Pennsylvania destinations for presentations, conferences, and trainings. Because ASERT is a statewide collaboration, Craig uses online communication and conference calls to interface with coworkers. “Technology is great for things like video conference calls, go-to-meeting presentations, and email, but I think it makes it a bit more challenging to keep everyone ‘in the loop’ on all of the nuances of what ASERT is doing when we are all in different physical locations,” she added. While at Messiah, Craig interned at a marketing and public relations agency, as well as The Arc of Dauphin County, a small, non-profit organization. Speaking of The Arc, she explained, “It's an organization that provides services and supports to individuals with intellectual disabilities. I loved every second of this internship, and it cemented in my mind that non-profit work was something I wanted to pursue.” Fortunately for Craig, a full time communication position opened up at The Arc, and she began her first job. “I was the only communication person on staff, so it was a great opportunity to do a little bit of everything and grow my skills in a lot of different areas,” she said. A member of Lambda Pi Eta (Communication Honor Society) and former communication department work study student, Craig acknowledged, “Messiah gave me lots of great tools that prepared me for my career: An excellent foundation of knowledge in communication theory and practice, real-world experience through my internships and PR Campaign class, a network of supportive colleagues in the area that I can draw on for advice and expertise. And lots of great classes that gave me a taste of different PR specialties.”
She encourages current students to attend networking events, contact area professionals, seek internships, and volunteer with local organizations. In her spare time, Craig enjoys running with her Sheltie named Calli, knitting, making jewelry, reading, playing soccer, collecting and playing board games, and singing in her church choir.