Maeve Reilly, Director of Communications for the Beckman Institute on campus, spoke this week for the Engl 199: Careers in the Humanities lecture series about what it means to have a career in communications. As a Director of Communications, Reilly characterizes herself as a writer, editor, proofreader.
and event coordinator. We learned that working in Communications for the Beckman Institute can involve creating annual reports, putting together Synergy newsletters, composing news releases on published research, writing stories and producing videos on recent research, generating content for the Beckman website, posting updates to social media, planning the biennial Beckman open house, and organizing events. In other words, working in communications involves producing digital and print written and multi-media material for different audiences. In particular, Reilly’s work enables her to share the innovative and fascinating research of renowned faculty with the campus and the world.
Don’t assume that you have to have a degree in Communication to work in the field of communications! Reilly herself has a BA in English and an MA in Irish Drama and Literature. English and other humanities majors can excel in careers in communications, marketing, advertising, and many other fields because of the range of widely sought skills they possess.
Just this week at Beckman institute, researchers figured out ways to (1) remove salt from seawater, (2) get a prosthetic hand to communicate the sensation of touch to brain, and (3) make distracting things less distracting. Next week, there will be a whole different set of mind-blowing research to tell the world about–and people will know about it because the Communications Office at Beckman Institute finds ways to introduce the world to the the great work being done over there.
Every business or organization needs to tell its story, in a number of ways and on different platforms. That realm of endeavor often goes by the name “communications”–and humanities majors tend to be good at it. Learn more on Wednesday, Nov. 18, 5 – 6 pm in EB 119, when Maeve Reilly, Director of Communications for the Beckman Institute wlll tell us about how she does it and the kinds of skills it entails.
Why do thieves rob banks? Because that’s where the money is. Why hold the Arts and Culture Career Fair in Chicago? Because that’s where the art and culture is.
Big corporations and organizations that recruit large numbers of students at events like the Business Career Fair and All-Campus Career Fair can afford to pull staff members away from their regular tasks and send them down to Champaign-Urbana for a day of talking to students.
Arts and culture organizations don’t usually work like that. They have shows to put on, musicians and artist to represent, galleries to staff, donors to cultivate, events to plan, workshops and performances to organize, not enough people to do it all, and shoestring budgets to pay for it. But they need employees, too: dedicated, arts- and culture-centered people who want to make a living working with and supporting those who perform, create, teach, and inspire.
Therefore, we’ll bring you to them, at this joint venture with UIC. There’s even transportation available (see details at the bottom of the graphic).
Eager to work in the arts, but not sure how to make the case for yourself to an employer? Michele Plante of the College of Fine and Applied Arts will lead a workshop on resumes and elevator pitches on Monday, November 30, 4 – 5pm, in 149 English Building. In time for Winter Break, you’ll get tips on creating and polishing a perfect first impression, so that you’re ready to go on February 5.
The good news: you don’t need a business degree to run your own business successfully. In fact, as we learned yesterday, Tony Pomonis (English ’02), former owner and manager of the local chain of Merry-Ann’s Diners, failed out of the business school before reviving his college career with courses at Parkland and re-enrolling at UIUC. Not only is a business degree unnecessary for small-business success, argues Pomonis–a humanities degree equips you more directly with the skills that lead to success: curiosity, a willingness to take risks, the ability to interact with people and learn from them, first-rate communication and problem-solving skills.
The bad news: Pomonis used the phrase “I worked my a** off” with alarming regularity in the hour that he spoke about his experiences. He recounted months of trading 12-hour shifts with his business partner, years of working without a vacation day. Hard work for Pomonis hasn’t just meant flipping pancakes with as much speed and finesse as the line cooks he hires (though that is key!), it has also involved
- actively seeking out mentors and advice
- taking responsibility for everything that goes wrong (and living with the emotional toll)
- memorizing balance sheets so as to impress investors
- curtailing his personal life to the demands of the job.
The bottom line: You can do it.
But: You might not want to. Small-business success comes at the cost of family life. Pomonis frankly owned up to the trade-offs: he made a lot more money running Merry-Ann’s than he does in his current position with LAS advancement at the University of Illinois, but his new job gives him time and energy to be with family. In his view, there is no contest: “I am infinitely richer” he says, for being able to spend his evenings and weekends at home with his wife and children, without the constant stress of a 24-hour business requiring his attention.
Pomonis maintains a stake in the business, however, and continues to cook at one of his diners the three busiest weekends of the year–one of which is coming up. You’ll find him on Sunday, Nov. 15, at the Merry-Ann’s in downtown Champaign from 8 to 2.