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Cole Bawek

2016 Graduate | Public Relations for Ashley Furniture

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Careers can evolve in interesting ways, and you never know when an opportunity will arise that ends up leading you down an entirely different path from where you began. For Cole Bawek, 2016 George Washington University graduate, taking a chance on a new direction has seen him build a successful career in public relations with furniture company Ashley Furniture Industries.

After joining the sales team at Ashley Furniture in 2013, Cole began looking for ways to make a more personal contribution to its business and culture. While he was exploring openings across the company, the charitable work being done by its public relations department caught his attention. “When I came to Ashley I was able to be exposed to all of these different careers, and the one that intrigued me the most was public relations,” he says. “They do a lot of work in the local community, and I knew this was the area of the business where I could see myself thrive and grow.”

Cole was offered a position as public relations specialist, where he helped to produce a range of internal and external communications to highlight company news and events. It didn’t take long to realize he had found his niche, both with Ashley and his career, and he decided to pursue a graduate degree to further develop his skills and pursue leadership opportunities in the department.

“I already knew I wanted to advance my career in this field, so I started researching different master’s degrees,” he says. “I found George Washington University and was amazed to find out the Master of Strategic Public Relations was voted as the nation’s top PR education program of the year. If I’m working with an industry leader I wanted to have the industry-leading degree, and I knew the program would help put me in the best possible position to advance.”