English BA –> University Admission Counselor

There are a lot of great college and university jobs that don’t involve being a professor. We recently interviewed alumnus Keena Griffin to learn about how he got into the field of higher ed admissions. Keena works as an admissions counselor for Concordia University Chicago. He says,

I started my career after graduation by working for the Illinois College Advising Corps (ICAC), which was a partner organization with the University of Illinois system designed to help underserved high school students navigate the college admission process to choose the right school for them.  The jump to becoming an Admission Counselor was a natural step from there.  With ICAC, I loved seeing the excitement of high school students who realized that college was not only possible for them, but that they had multiple options to choose from.  Now I have the opportunity on the collegiate side to work with incoming students and help make the admission process manageable.

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Entrepreneurship and…English Majors? Oh, YES.

One of the newest additions to our Alumni Mentoring Network is Timothy Tonella, CEO of Matchstar Venture Search. Tim writes,

I’ve been directly involved in the placement of over 420 technology VPs and C-level executives into venture backed companies across the company….I frequently coach CEOs and presidents on strategies and tactics for finding their next opportunity, positioning themselves (and their personal brand), and how to connect independently (through a private job search) with potential hiring managers – in this case, board members investing in technology companies. I’m also a venture partner in a venture capital fund (www.theexplorergroup.com),”

 

Tim shared how he got his start using English skills to succeed in realms not usually associated with English majors: 

The IEEE branch at U of I (at least back in 1986) was the largest student engineering organization in the nation.  I wanted have something significant on my resume as an interviewing senior and found a small clause in IEEE bi-laws that allowed non-engineering students to become an “affiliate member.”  Truth be told, my college roommate – who is now a big time Silicon Valley CEO – was President of IEEE at the time and helped me identify that exclusion.  As an affiliate member, I could technically run for office.  So I gave a speech – a pitch – to 400 engineering students about what I could do for them as the no. 2 guy (treasurer) of IEEE and beat out 10 engineering students to basically run the largest collegiate engineering branch in the country . . . as an English major!  Funny thing is that no one ever knew I wasn’t an engineering student.”

Entrepreneurship is a huge opportunity – not just for engineering students – but any kid with the drive, ambition, and the creative spirit to build something significant.  Here’s a fun video from about 7 years ago.  I found Google’s no. 1 engineer (had just won the coveted President’s Award at Google for all his work on gmail apps), and we started a company on the side together.  This video was part of a 4-segment highlight show (Tesla was also feature next to us) that ran directly after “60 Minutes” across 20 million cable subscribers:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3cbi_Rm5SRE….You don’t have to be a top engineer or 4.0 business student to do some exciting things in the business world.

creative mind is the MOST valuable thing a student can possess, and that’s something you often see with English majors.

For English/CW majors interested in exploring entrepreneurship, there are a couple of upcoming campus opportunities to know about.

  • Entrepreneurship Forum
    Tuesday, April 25 and Wednesday, April 26, Illini Union
    Join the Offices of the Provost and Vice Chancellor for Research for the annual Entrepreneurship Forum. There will be workshops on the new Siebel Center for Design; entrepreneurial resources available on campus and funding; and awarding of the $20,000 Illinois Innovation Prize. All students welcome. Register today for this fantastic event!
    Contact: Stephanie Larson

And, of course, we encourage you to join the alumni mentoring network so you can contact Tim and other English/CW alumni currently working in business to learn more about how to use your amazing communication and problem-solving skills in the business world.

Alumni Profile: Seth Fein, ’02, festival producer and online publisher

Seth Fein’s literary career began with (a) his creative writing professor’s refusal to write him a recommendation for grad school and (b) the alternative that stood ready to hand, being an “analogue troll” for buzz magazine (back when it still existed in print form).

If the word “career” conveys for you a beige cubicle in an office park somewhere, an hour talking to Fein is a welcome corrective. His career is one he created for himself, based on the things he loves doing: booking bands, writing, being a part of the local community. In 2005, he created the Pygmalion music festival, which has since grown to be a literary, tech, craft. and food festival as well, with more than 60 sponsors.

“Pygmalion is the main thing I do,” Fein says, but it is hardly the only thing he does. As Co-President and CEO of the Nicodemus Agency, he also promotes bands, consults, and offers design and photography services. He also runs Smile Politely, an online magazine started in 2007 to fill a gap in the Champaign-Urbana cultural scene.

Fein’s message to students? Spend your twenties doing what you love–or at least, figuring out what that is. Fein shredded the motivational-poster version of that sentiment and spoke frankly about the realities:start-up costs (working multiple paying jobs to support the not-yet-paying gigs), the inevitable cosethfeinmpromises (turning down well-heeled advertisers in order to build a coherent brand), the trade-offs (living with the limitations of the local community while working to make it better).

The bottom line? As Fein put it, “just start writing your own sh*t.”

 

Is Law School in Your Future?

hammer-802301_1920If you’re thinking about law school, there are a lot of resources available to help you decide whether or not to apply.  The Department of English Alumni Mentoring Network has, at last count, 19 potential mentors working in law and eager to talk to students about that career path. The University of Illinois Pre-Law Advising Services has many resources to help you with the decision to apply and the application process. Check out the events below.

There’s also a Pre-Law Compass page with a new video series, free LSAT preparation tips and resources, suggestions on how to write a personal statement, and detailed data about where Illinois students attend law school (along with successful applicant profiles). Students who are designated pre-law are automatically granted access to our Compass page, and other students can easily add themselves by following these simple steps.   http://prelaw.illinois.edu/compass

 

Interacting with Law School Admissions: Interviews, Visits, & Law Fairs. September 7, 5-6 pm in 514 Illini Union Bookstore Building.

Law school applicants will have several opportunities throughout the application cycle to engage with law school admissions professionals. Whether it is through an interview, at a law fair, or during a law school visit, these interactions can make or break a candidate’s application. What should applicants wear, say, and do during these interactions? What impresses an admissions dean–and what leaves a terrible impression? Learn from a veteran law school dean, Ms. Ann Perry, Associate Dean for Admissions at the University of Chicago Law School, all about how to maximize admission and aid through successful interactions with admissions professionals. No registration necessary.

 

Practice LSAT. September 9, 8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Register online for additional details.

This proctored practice LSAT provides the opportunity to take an actual Law School Admission Test in a real classroom environment. Whether students are prepping for the September 24 LSAT or have never taken a practice LSAT before and just want to get a baseline score, this is a great opportunity. This exam will be set up much like the real LSAT: Please bring pencils, personal items, and a snack in a clear plastic baggie.  Location and follow up details will be sent to all registrants within a week of the exam. Click here to register.

 

Pre-Law 101. September 12, 4-5 pm in 514 Illini Union Bookstore Building.

This workshop is designed for incoming students who are new to pre-law or are interested in learning more about it. This workshop covers: What it means to be pre-law at Illinois, course selection, majors, and extracurriculars, building a pre-law resume, and what law schools are really looking for. We will outline a four year plan to maximize your undergraduate experiences in order to make a great law school candidate. We’ll also take any questions about law school and legal careers. Please click here to register to ensure enough seating and materials for everyone. Each Pre-Law 101 session is the same. Incoming students attend a Pre-Law 101 session prior to setting up an individual pre-law advising appointment.

 

Perfecting Your Personal Statement & Resume for Law School. September 19, 4-5 pm in 514 Illini Union Bookstore Building.

The personal statement is one of the most difficult yet powerful elements of the law school application. This workshop will cover: What the personal statement is, how to prepare for writing it, and some tips and suggestions for making it reflect an applicant’s strengths. We will also discuss how the personal statement and resume can complement each other to create a stronger law school application. Please click here to register so that we can ensure enough seating and materials for everyone.

 

SAVE THE DATE for the Law School Fair! October 4, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. in the Illini Union A,B,C, Rooms.

It’s the biggest pre-law event of the year! Over 100 law school representatives will visit campus to meet prospective students and share information about their law schools, scholarships, and people. Meet admissions professionals, learn about law schools, get some freebies and application fee waivers! Dress code is business casual. All students, alumni, and community members interested in law school are welcome! This event is free and open to the public. For additional details visit http://prelaw.illinois.edu/law-school-fair