’16 Grad, Thomas Shaw, Tackles Tough Issues as Senior Public Affairs Executive

by Andrea Ortega

Editor’s Note: Since the original draft of this article, Thomas Shaw has moved from BCW Global on to ROKK Solutions, described as a public affairs firm that is at “the nexus of policy, politics, and communications.” There he is a senior account executive working in public affairs and social impact.

shaw on left

Thomas Shaw, a former communication and government and international politics major at George Mason University, can be described as someone who makes the most of every single minute. He is currently a senior account executive in the Public Affairs and Crisis practice at BCW Global, where he also leads digital communications strategy. He manages several accounts and performs duties involving  content creation, social media, media relations and crisis management.  Shaw is no stranger 

to hard work, while at Mason, he held different leadership positions, “Every semester, I was always either working two internships and a job or two jobs and an internship.”

Shaw’s interest in public service began during his internship with the National Peace Corp Association (NPCA). He was one of two on the communication team where he dove into public relations and social media work. If something needed to be done, he would not shy away and took every task with a grain of salt. This led to the opportunity to lead a variety of projects that helped tell the story of Peace Corps and its volunteers, like working to produce the NPCA publication WorldView Magazine and organizing returned Peace Corps volunteers for a day of lobbying on Capitol Hill for enhanced Peace Corpsshaw obama funding.

Mason’s Building Blocks

Shaw points to several experiences at Mason that served as his building blocks of skills. What perhaps had the most impact on him was working at the university’s Student Media office, which he called the “hidden gem of George Mason.” Student media gives students the tools, funding, and everything they need to carry out a project. For Shaw, that project was “Outlier Magazine,” a publication focused on intersectionality within the  LGTBQ community where students expressed their experiences on gender, sexual identity, race, political ideology, spirit and religion, advocacy and pop culture.  Through a 50-person team and Thomas’s leadership, Outlier Magazine was born, and thousands of copies were printed and shipped to 11 different schools.

 Advice to Students

Thomas shared three career-defining classes he uses every day at BCW Global, and they are, “Professor Mims’ COMM 331 course where I was exposed to public relations, social media and journalism. Professor Tomasovic’s business course where I developed a campaign from start to finish and Professor Samoilenko’s  crisis management and character assassination course where I learned everything I know about crisis today.”

shawAs a first-generation high school and college graduate, there are many things that Thomas was not familiar with, such as how to network and prepare professional resume “George Mason provided me with internships on and off-campus, mentoring, classes, and tools that helped me succeed as a student and gave me the confidence I needed before graduation day. Mason is overflowing with opportunity. Not only that, I found my best friend turned family as well, and for that, I’m grateful.”  One piece of valuable advice that Shaw would share with current students, “Build connections. Go on LinkedIn and search for people who hold positions or work at companies where you want to be. Slide into their inbox and introduce yourself and be sincere and gracious that you would like nothing more than to listen to them for 30 minutes about their career journey and current role. This is how you begin and keep going.”

George Mason’s department of communication was recently named to the PRNews Education A-List, a roster ofpr newslist the top 35 educational institutions advancing the careers of PR and communication professionals in the U.S.  Mason communication majors can choose to concentrate in public relations, journalism, media production and criticism, political communication, organizational or interpersonal communication as well as minor in other cross-department subjects. The department provides students with a blend of theory, research, and hands-on experiential learning to prepare them for the wide variety of careers in professional communication.