In December 2022, Tanner Holland graduated magna cum laude from Western Carolina University with a degree in communication, with a concentration in public relations, and a minor in political science. Holland knew he wanted to go into communications after he interned in the communications office of his local high school system while he was still in high school. 

“Ever since then, I fell in love with communication as a profession and how integral it can be to an organization’s success, both internally and externally,” he said. 

Currently, Holland is working as the Multimedia Production Specialist for Johnston County Public Schools (JCPS) in North Carolina. He found this job in March of 2022 after receiving a notification from Indeed about the position.

“As soon as I saw it I knew I had to apply, as it would be a dream to work in the same office I did in high school, and be an incredible experience to serve the people who once taught me,” said Holland.

 Holland has maintained a relationship with JCPS since his internship in high school. JCPS liked him so much, they held the position for him until he could officially start in August of 2022.

Furthermore, Holland stated he loves where he works and was already very familiar with the open environment that JCPS holds. He describes JCPS as one large family and that they are all focused on ensuring that over 38,000 JCPS students receive a good education.

“The more administrators, leaders, and managers I meet here, the more I realize that everyone here truly loves what they do and are passionate about seeing kids succeed in life,” said Holland.

After graduating from WCU, Holland had the opportunity to work with the Read with Malcolm Foundation on a video project with JCPS and got to talk to the CEO, Malcolm Mitchell, who is a former Super Bowl Champ from the Patriots. He also submitted some of his work to the Communication Arts Magazine Photography Competition. As Holland works, he challenges himself to implement new ideas and visions into the videos he creates as well as learning new ways to improve in his job. He spends a significant amount of time creating video stories to tag along with press releases and social media posts. The stories showcase teachers receiving awards, events or lessons happening in the district, and state officials visiting schools and interacting with students. Since August, Holland has produced over 40 videos and live streams of Johnston County Board of Education meetings. Holland enjoys the fast-paced environment focused on highlighting the positive happenings in the school system and how the job is different every day. 

Moving forward, some of the most valuable skills Holland has learned during his time at WCU are making and maintaining professional connections despite how uncomfortable it may feel. The number one skill he uses daily is being a good communicator with his colleagues and in turn, being a good listener. Holland states how Professor Donald Connelly used to always say, “half of life is just showing up, and the other half is just listening.” This statement has helped Holland listen to the things going on around him and to ask questions when he feels confused. These actions enable him to offer feedback on things he may not be working on himself, or help solve problems that don’t affect him. 

One thing that has surprised Holland since entering the “real world” of the communication industry is that there is not much time at the end of the day. Holland works from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and doesn’t make it back home until 5:30 p.m. In the evenings, Holland makes time to prepare dinner, take his dog for a walk, and do a load of laundry before 9 p.m. Due to a busy schedule, he learns the importance of time management. 

“It is designed to be repetitive, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it takes getting used to,” he said. “I’m learning how to better take advantage of my weekends, which means getting up early, even on the weekends. I can do more things, be productive, and enjoy life outside of work.”

In the next few years, Holland hopes to grow into a new role or move to another agency where he can continue to be an effective communicator. His ultimate goal is to lead a creative communication team within a government agency and to create better content that serves communities.

“I plan to stick with some form of government work, as I feel it is what I am called to do,” said Holland. “We’re presented with so many unique challenges but have to work within a lot of constraints to ensure we’re doing things legally, ethically, and being aware of how messages and programs impact all kinds of people.”

Furthermore, Holland strongly encourages students to get involved in a communication organization at WCU as he was able to gain many skills as the Communications Director for the Student Government Association and still lists it on his resume. He also encourages students to use their spare time to get good at something, such as photography, video, and reporting. Students can do these things by attending events on campus and shooting photos. They can also visit Last Minute Productions events to shoot videos and work on video editing. 

“These things not only help you master your craft but also help you have portfolio pieces – and believe your professors when they say you’re going to need portfolio pieces soon. Trust me, you will,” he said. 

Lastly, students can reach out to Holland on his LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, and email at