Jobs for Those with People Skills

First Job: Human Resources

Consider the following list of qualifications:hr-jobThis is an entry-level position in human resources, a field for which English and creative writing are always “related majors.”

Human resources is the work of recruiting potential employees, hiring them, getting them started in their jobs, and then resolving problems that arise. If you’ve helped a friend get hired at your work, if you’ve trained a new employee, if you’ve helped someone in trouble keep their job–you’ve already done work in this area.

Alumnus Theo Long, the Associate Director of Talent Management (“a fancy way of saying human resources”) for the U of I Office of Advancemtheodore_longent was in the English department yesterday to talk about his own experience. It was a field he stumbled into, but the point where it became a career path, rather than simply a way to pay the bills, was the point where he realized he could make a difference in the lives of other people. Having seen on-the-job conflicts be mismanaged (“some managers just love to fire people”), he sought out a managerial role where he could help resolve conflicts supportively and constructively.

There are a lot of entry-level roles in HR that do NOT require a graduate degree, particularly recruiting new employees. For those who want to advance in the field without committing to a graduate program, the Society of Human Resource Managers (SHRM) offers a certification program, which involves self-study, an exam, and a fee.

Theo also noted that an entry-level HR job can be a point of entry into an organization or an industry in which you may ultimately pursue other career paths: project management, communications, public relations.

Second Job: Advancement/Development/Fundraising

Higher education, not-for-profit organizations, philanthropy, social justice and political activism…all these kinds of organizations require donations to stay afloat. The work of of obtaining and managing those donations goes by many names.  Theo Long’s HR job falls within the University of Illinois’s Office of Advancement which works with donors. Theo offered insight into the kinds of skills that are key for jobs in this area: not just the ability to ask people for money (though that is important) but also–a strong commitment to the mission of the organization that you’re raising money for, excellent listening skills, and curiosity. He also noted that advancement takes a lot of different forms: there is need for event planners, project managers, and researchers. A background in sales, customer service, organizing events for your RSO, and helping with fundraising in any capacity can make you eligible for an entry level job in this area. Theo also noted that the University of Illinois Foundation regularly seeks student employees to call alumni and seek donations. It’s not work that everyone takes to, but for anyone thinking about a career in the non-profit realm, it’s valuable experience.

Theo is a member of the Alumni Mentoring program, so feel free to contact him using your Alumni Mentoring Directory (and if you haven’t yet signed up for the Alumni Mentoring program, please set up an appointment with Kirstin Wilcox by emailing or calling 333-4346).


Guest Post: Finding Success at Summer Publishing Programs

A few days ago, we published a post on the phenomenon of summer publishing programs, with links to a number of the most prominent of them and to online discussions about whether or not they are worth the steep price tag.  

One of our alumni kindly agreed to share her experience in a guest post. Her bottom line? Yes, they’re worth it–if you’re committed to making the most of the experience. 

Continue reading

Alumni Profile: Beth Cohon, video editor for Teak

To learn about her career in video editing and her other experiences after graduation, I recently talked with U of I English alumna Beth Cohon. Be sure to check out the sample of her work, linked below! 39d3231

VO: When did you graduate from UIUC?

Beth:  I graduated in 2011, after my third year.

VO:  What was your reason for graduating early?

Beth:  I had a lot of AP credits before starting college. Then going into my junior year, I just realized that if I took something like 5 English courses each semester that I’d be able to graduate that year. However, looking back I sort of wish I had stayed all 4 years, because my last year was so fun. College is fun. I did take the next year to do a one-year MA, though, so I still got in my 4 years of school I guess.

VO:  What was your MA in?

Beth:  I got my MA in film studies, at King’s College London. In the UK most Masters courses are just one year full-time.

VO:  What do you do now?

Beth:  Now I work as a video editor at Teak, an agency/production company in San Francisco.

VO:  How long have you worked there? Continue reading

The Literature-History-Art Geek’s Guide to Wasting Time Online Before Spring Semester Starts.

[Just added!] A blogger who makes composite police sketches based on descriptions of literary characters.

Plan a 1947 roadtrip organized around the dining and lodging options available to African-American travellers.

Find the JMW Turner painting that precisely depicts your current mood.

Visit a school in Afghanistan.

Let your inner steampunk loose in the digital archives.

Design an eighteenth-century wig (N.B. this one got a lot of social media love recently and when I checked just now the link seemed to be broken; if it doesn’t work, try it later.)

Explore Pelagie’s house.

Think you know your Bible? Read the book of Isaiah as you’ve never read it before.  

Dig to the center of the earth.

Measure the universe.

Use your mad cursor-arrow gaming skillz to explore an early 20th century NYC mansion.