Putting Your Skills into Practice: Spring 2016 Community Service Opportunities for English, CW, and ToE Students

CLL_graphicThe English Undergraduate Advising Office is excited to announce a new partnership with the U of I School of Social Work’s Community Learning Lab (CLL) for Spring 2016.

The Community Learning Lab is looking for 10-15 English, Creative Writing, or Teaching of English students to get involved in community projects for the Spring semester. If a lot of students are interested in working with CLL, they can offer even more opportunities in future semesters. Some projects are open to 2 or 3 students, so you have the option to collaborate with a friend of classmate if you’d like.  Each project will involve no more than 25 hours of work during a single semester.

To get involved, send an email ssw-cll@illinois.edu, explaining that you are an English department major interested in CLL opportunities.  You will receive a list of available projects and a link for signing up for whichever project interests you most.

This partnership will give English, Creative Writing, and Teaching of English students the opportunity to acquire valuable professional experience and to practice real-world job skills by doing community service projects for organizations in Champaign-Urbana. By offering invaluable assistance to organizations that need their help, English students will develop connections to the local community and expand their college experience beyond the borders of campus.

To learn more about this collaboration and what it means for our students, I recently talked with Katie Shumway from the Community Learning Lab.


Can you tell me a little about the Community Learning Lab? What are its goals? How does it help connect the University to the Champaign-Urbana community?

The whole point of CLL is to create a mutually beneficial relationship between the campus and the community. Through our program, community partners (which can include non-profit agencies, fire departments, police departments, schools, and even some for-profit agencies) submit project requests to our online database. We examine those requests for projects and match them with courses on campus whose curriculum is in line with the needs of the project. We’ve seen that manifest in a lot of Continue reading

Alumni Profile: Katie O’Brian, Children’s Librarian

Katie O'BrianFor the latest in my series of alumni career profiles, I talked with Katie O’Brian, who graduated from U of I in 2011 with a double major in English and Creative Writing and a minor in Spanish. Katie currently works as a children’s librarian at a public library in Colorado. Here’s what she had to say about life after graduation:

VO:  What did you do after you graduated from U of I?

Katie:  When I graduated, I was pretty sure I wanted to go into libraries. I had been volunteering at the Champaign Public Library and really liked it, so I decided to take some time off to try working in a library. You need a Master’s degree to be a librarian, so I wanted to be sure I really liked it before I committed to grad school. I took a year off from school and worked as a circulation clerk in a public library. It was a lot of fun.

VO:  And after that you decided to go to grad school?

Katie:  Yeah. I applied to the master’s program in Library and Information Science (GSLIS) at U of I the fall after I graduated from undergrad. So really only after 4 months of working in the library, but I had also been volunteering for maybe 6 months before that.

VO:  Can you tell me a little about what you do now?

Katie:  I’m a children’s librarian at a public library in Colorado. That means that I work the reference desk in the children’s department at my library. I do programs for children, including storytime and various other programs. Most recently, I organized a Star Wars Party for all ages (so basically 0-12), which was a lot of fun. We have a small staffing model, so I also do things that librarians wouldn’t necessarily do in a larger library system. For instance, I do a little bit of marketing in that I make posters for my department’s programs. I also am responsible for maintaining half the children’s collection (that’s books, CDs, movies, magazines, etc.).

VO:  Wow! That sounds great. So does your day-to-day schedule tend to vary quite a bit? Continue reading

Alumni Profile: Dan Klen, Assistant Scientific Editor for the Illinois State Geological Survey

Klen_Bio Photo 1As part of my alumni profiles series, I recently talked with UIUC alumnus Dan Klen, who graduated in 2012 with majors in English and Creative Writing and a minor in Business. Dan shared information about his work as an Assistant Scientific Editor for the Illinois State Geological Survey at the University of Illinois and offered some advice to current students who may be interested in careers in editing or publishing.

VO: Can you tell me a little about what you do?

Dan: I’m an assistant scientific editor for the Illinois State Geological Survey at the University of Illinois. My job includes what is probably the obvious part to most people, which is editing. What most people think an editor does is read manuscripts and edit for style, form, and clarity. But there’s also a lot of other things that go with being an editor – a lot of managing and coordinating of authors to meet deadlines and to remind them of their goals. A lot of my time is actually spent just coordinating with people for particular projects. Usually in planning for a project, I’ll sit down with the principal investigator (PI) and figure out what our writing deliverables are—usually it’s reports if it’s a government-funded project. I’ll develop schedules with authors for turning in their individual contributions; then I’ll edit those contributions and put them all together into a final topical report or project report that the PI reviews. That’s just one example, but my point is that there’s editing and formatting that goes with my job, but also a lot of coordinating with contributing authors. As far as types of documents, we produce final project reports, academic papers, website content, monthly reports, and press releases. I’ve also done some work on public outreach materials, such as walking guides to parks in Chicago, so it’s a little bit all over the board.

Continue reading

How to Prepare for the Chicago Arts and Culture Career Fair

Michele Plante, Coordinator of Career Services for the College of Fine and Applied Arts at U of I, spoke with students in Engl 199: Internship Seminar this week about how to Michele Planteprepare for the upcoming Chicago Arts and Culture Career Fair on February 5, 2016 from 12 to 2pm. Here are some of the tips she had to offer:

What should you wear?

Different career fairs follow different practices, so it’s generally a good idea to know your audience when you’re deciding what to wear to such an event. While you’d want to bring out your nicest black suit to attend the Business Career Fair on campus, you’ll want to leave it at home when you go to the Arts and Culture Career Fair. Women attending the Arts and Culture Career Fair should wear a blouse and nice skirt or a dress (that goes at least to your knees); comfortable, professionally appropriate shoes (flats or dressy boots); and possibly a memorable, colorful accessory, like a scarf. Men in attendance should wear a jacket and nice pants, but a tie isn’t necessary.

What should you bring?

You’ll want to bring 2-3 résumés for every organization you’re interested in talking with. Your U of I student ID is also required.

What kinds of questions should you ask employers at the career fair? Continue reading