We talked to Heather Gernez, Publicity Manager at the University of Illinois Press, about her experience of working at a press and the challenges she faced before starting her career as Publicity Manager. We also asked her for some suggestions for our undergraduates who want to pursue a career in the field Heather is now. This is what she said:
What is your current job? What challenges did you face to get there?
I’m currently the publicity manager at the University of Illinois Press. My primary responsibilities include sending books out to reviewers, setting up interviews and events for authors, and managing the press’s social media accounts.
I first started working for the press as student worker in the marketing department in my junior year of college. I had been working at Barnes and Noble as a bookseller since high school and knew I wanted to pursue a career in publishing. After college, I continued working at Barnes and Noble, and also began working at the UIUC library in Collection Management Services as an academic hourly. I applied to so many jobs in publishing during this time, mainly editorial positions, which is what I thought I wanted to pursue, but never had any luck. Looking back now, I think if I had been applying to jobs in publicity I would have been a lot more successful based on my previous experience. The work I did for my predecessor during my time as a student worker at UIP was definitely my favorite, but somehow I never made the connection that I should pursue publicity work! I did actually interview for an assistant acquisition editor position at the press, but didn’t end up getting it. A fact I am grateful for now, as I know it’s not the right type of work for me.
Recently we had the chance to talk to some staff and interns of ATLAS about internships. The conversation provided us with valuable information about internship opportunities at ATLAS, application procedure, the possibility of continuing internships for more than one semester, and the prospect of transition from unpaid internships to paid positions.
How do you invite internship applications? Do you advertise them or do you accept applications throughout the year?
We invite applications year round, as we constantly have new positions coming in, and have started interns at mid-semester in the past. We also do specific calls for applications if we have a position that needs filled and we don’t have applicants that fit that position.
Recently we interviewed Steve Haruch, a writer, journalist and independent filmmaker based in Nashville, TN. He graduated with a B.A. from UIUC in 1996 (English/Rhetoric double major), and went on to earn an M.F.A. in creative writing from the University of Washington in 2000. After a series of teaching, copywriting and other odd jobs, he landed at the Nashville Scene, where he worked as a staff editor for seven years. Since then, he has written for The New York Times, The Atlantic, NPR’s Code Switch and The Guardian, among other outlets. He edited People Only Die of Love in Movies: Film Writing by Jim Ridley (Vanderbilt University Press, 2018) and is currently producing a documentary film about the history of college radio. He is particularly interested in talking with students from minority backgrounds. In the interview, Haruch talked about freelancing, a career option that offers freedom of work.
What is your current job? What do you like about it?
I’m a freelancer, so my current job is really a series of jobs, mostly involving writing in some way. These are strung together in a manner that resembles regular work but is more open-ended and irregular.
Do you love teaching? Are you interested in teaching English abroad? There are plenty of opportunities in East and Southeast Asia, and the Middle East.
Every year China, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the UAE and some other countries in Asia and the Middle East, recruit a number of English teachers with a preference given to native speakers of English. Searching the keyword “English” in Handshake will bring up any number of these opportunities.Many offer good packages in terms of remuneration, health coverage, and accommodation. With a bachelor’s degree in English, anyone who is a native of an English speaking country can apply for these positions.
Is Teaching English the Right Path for You?
The best way to find out if you enjoy teaching second language learners, before you renew your passport and invest in a plane ticket, is to give it a try — which can also help you get experience that will help you land a position. Champaign-Urbana offers many opportunities to get some experience of working with non-native speakers of English.
- The Intensive English Institute. Each semester the Intensive English Institute hires a number of undergraduate students for internships, and these positions are paid. You can also volunteer to be convopartners of international students at the institute, which will require you to spend one hour each week with ESL students. This will give you the opportunity to exchange culture and experience the world from another perspective.
- Illinois International Hospitality Committee. You can also volunteer for English classes through the University of Illinois International Hospitality Committee.
- Project READ, Parkland College. Volunteering at Parkland College can give you exposure to adult language learning. Project READ, a not-for-profit literacy service in Parkland College, provides free tutoring to adult learners seeking to improve their reading, writing, and/or English as a Second Language skills. Volunteers are needed throughout the Parkland College district. All Project READ tutors attend 12 hours of formal training to earn certification in tutoring adults. Tutor Certification Training is offered on a monthly basis at various locations. For more information about finding a tutor or to become a volunteer tutor, call 217/353-2662.
Formal Certification in TESL?
Some programs for teaching English abroad require certification in teaching English as a second language. This credential can be obtained from the Department of Linguistics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
The Department of Linguistics offers a Certificate in TESL for undergraduate students. Undergraduate students may pursue the Certificate in TESL as a stand-alone certificate, through a Minor in ESL, or Teacher Education Minor in ESL. For the certificate, undergrads need to take six courses three of which are compulsory and the rest are elective. Those pursuing the Certificate in TESL via a Minor in ESL must declare a Minor in ESL at the beginning of course work for the minor.