What’s challenging/interesting/rewarding about my current job?
- Well, I’m currently an English grad student, which can be extremely challenging, considering the amount of theoretical reading I have to do. Although that doesn’t necessarily relate to Communication, my assistantship sort of does—I help with the administrative side of SLU’s Film Studies Department. Really, the most rewarding thing about my current “job” as a student is that I get to engage with my favorite literature, film, and theories and find meaning in them. My particular interests in English are the Gothic and the horror genre, both of which actually require a lot of interdisciplinary work, which I’m equipped to do thanks to my time at QU as an English and Communication double major and history minor.
- I’m also pleased that I am still able to continue to write for the Herald-Whig and use my journalism skills. Although my focus is on English and my goal is to get my PhD and teach college literature, I still want very much to use those skills and, as cheesy as it sounds, make a difference in the world.
How do I use various communication proficiencies in my work?
- With my assistantship, I use basic communication techniques to work with the director of the Film Studies program as well as various other professors and staff who are involved in the program. (The SLU Film Studies program is actually interdisciplinary, so we work with various programs throughout the university. Examples would be Women’s and Gender Studies, Communication, Political Science, Literatures, Languages, and Cultures, and, of course, English.)
- I feel that, overall, my classes on ethics, human communication and behavior, and intercultural communication are currently the most beneficial to me. What I learned in those classes has helped me build relationships with professors, classmates, and even my subject material, the literature and theory I work with in my field. It’s allowed me to become a more ethical person and writer. I should be getting into a classroom to start teaching Composition next fall, so these classes and the things I learned in them should also help me relate to students and be sensitive to their needs.
- As a freelance journalist, I’ve also obviously been using my journalistic skills that I developed at QU through various classes and also through working for the Falcon for two and a half years.
What surprised me about my career?
- To be quite honest, I’m most surprised that I’m currently in grad school studying English lit. I went into undergrad as a business major and hated it, so I changed my major to English and Communication, thinking I would become a journalist. However, to be frank, I ended up burning out on journalism in a major, major way. I think that happened for a number of reasons. So as not to write a 5,000 word essay right here, I’ll just say that I’m a perfectionist and writing and rewriting and editing and re-editing every.single.thing. that I ever published in the Falcon or posted on QU Media’s website, I think, just wore me down a little too much. I think also that, considering the larger political and societal climate in our country and world, I wanted to write about something more than parking signs on campus, for example. (This is not to say that student media shouldn’t be writing these kinds of stories. I’m aware that they are, in fact, very important.).
- One thing that I still liked to do was write about the humanities, pop culture, things that could possibly change the way the university works—I’m thinking about a particular op-ed I wrote about the humanities crisis.
- Although I burned out on journalism for a while, that doesn’t mean I’m ever going to just drop it. I think journalism can change the world if used in the right way.
- As I mentioned in response to an earlier question, I still freelance for the Herald-Whig and that’s fun because I get to interview different musical artists and tell their stories or I get to interview people who are putting on events to support cancer research or artists/artisans or Quincy history or any number of things.
- Going forward—I know this is a huge and maybe impossible dream, but I don’t care—I would, either in addition to being a professor or in place of being a professor, love to write (at least) one op-ed for the New York Times or the Washington Post or to be featured in the New Yorker once.
- I kind of got off-base here, but I guess what has surprised me the most thus far from undergrad to grad school (I’m saying this since I only really have an academic career right now) is that I fell out of love with journalism and then back into love with journalism and that my biggest aspiration now is to find a way to join my English studies, communication skills, and writing (academic, journalistic, and creative) to forge a career path that will help me find my voice and make it heard.
Here’s my number one piece of advice for Communication undergrads:
- I think my biggest piece of advice is to be open to any kind of career. Don’t feel pigeonholed, like you have to be a newspaper writer or TV news reporter or anchor or like you have to do something specifically designated as a communication job.
- I spent about 10 months working at the Historical Society of Quincy and Adams County as an events coordinator. HSQAC has very few employees and, to top that off, our executive director was away working for the military while I was part of the organization.
- To start off, there is nothing about the title “events coordinator” that made me think, oh, yes, this is the perfect job for me as a com graduate. In fact, I was quite fearful of accepting the job because I had no idea how to plan an event, how to operate in an administrative position. I had never done such a thing before. And to make things even more interesting, I took on other responsibilities since our director was away.
- Throughout my time at the Historical Society, I planned several events, gave tours of our John Wood Mansion, did lots of research, wrote a couple of scripts for our different seasonal tours, basically did our PR, ran our social media sites, and wrote or helped write grants (we got the grant I wrote!) among other things.
- You know what? My job as the events coordinator was not nearly as hard as I thought it was going to be. My time at QU did, indeed, prepare me for that job or really any other job I wanted (unless maybe it was in math or science or something…nothing could prepare me for that.). As I’m sure you could guess, even though the research method was a little different at the society, I already knew how to do research and I knew how to write and write well. Thanks to classes like Nora Baldner’s social media class, I was actually able to run the social media sites pretty decently. And thanks to my many class presentations through my years at QU in various classes and my experience as an intern at the Historical Society several years ago, I was prepared to give tours.
- Just to reiterate the point, I think it’s important to remain open-minded and explore all different kinds of job opportunities. You don’t have to pursue a “traditional” communication career. You can find a perfectly fulfilling job or career in the most unexpected places. Also, if you’re someone who is really invested in the well-being of a community, I suggest getting involved in non-profit work if you can. It was a blessing for me to have the opportunity to work for such a small and close-knit non-profit.
Class year: 2017
Previous jobs since graduation: Events Coordinator at HSQAC August 2017 through June 2018; Freelance journalist (which I’ve been doing for over three years now) for the Herald-Whig