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.


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

Which Career-Planning Course Should I Take?

AnneOdom(2)We didn’t put it on the bucket list, but you should still do it: take a course to help your career planning. The Department of English offers three, all of which have the same number, English 199. (Yes, it’s confusing–we’re working on that….).

For Fall 2016, here’s a quick guide to help you figure out which course you should take, complete with the numbers that will help you enroll in it.

ENGL 199 – CP2: Career Planning for Humanities Majors

  • Wednesdays, 5pm – 6:30pm. EB 131
  • Oct. 19 – Dec. 7 (second eight weeks)
  • One credit
  • Who should take it: Students at ANY stage of their studies in a word-centered “impractical” major like English or CW. Whether you’re a new student with no career plans or a graduating senior needing to find a job fast, this course will help move you towards your goals. You will learn to network, write an effective resume and cover letter, present yourself to potential employers, interview, and research potential careers,
  • How to register: use CRN 50105

ENGL 199 – MMM: Career and Internship Fair Prep

  • ONLINE Aug. 22 – Oct.14 (first eight weeks)
  • One Credit
  • Who should take it: Students at ANY stage of their studies who want to explore career possibilities and connect to potential employers by attending career fairs. This course is specifically designed to prep you for the LAS Internship Fair, which will take place Oct. 19, the week after the course has ended, but the skills you learn will be applicable to any career or internship fair, including the Illini Career and Internship Fair, the Business Career Fair, or the Arts and Culture Career Fair. You will learn to tailor your resume, research career fair opportunities, construct an effective elevator pitch, network, and use the career fair to advance your own goals.
  • How to register: use CRN 65563

ENGL 199 – INT: Internship Seminar

  • Thursdays, 3:30pm – 4:30pm. EB 131
  • Oct. 20 – Dec. 1 (second eight weeks)
  • One credit
  • Who should take it: Students who have located a fall semester internship for which they wish to receive academic credit. This course will help you weave your internship experience into your overall career path and help you speak and write effectively about the skills you have gained through your internship.
  • How to register: When you have lined up a fall semester internship, contact Kirstin Wilcox, Director of Internships, and she will make sure you are cleared to enroll in the course.