By Erica Pulling, WorkStory Ambassador at Western University & Rachael Courtemanche
Rachael Courtemanche is the Communications Coordinator at the London Economic Development Corporation (LEDC). LEDC is the lead economic development agency for the city of London, Canada. Rachael’s role focuses on content creation for the LEDC and local small-to-medium businesses to help tell their stories, as well as implementing communications, marketing, and social media strategies.
With a strong desire to help others, Rachael completed the Social Service Worker (SSW) program at Fanshawe College (2011-13). During the program, however, she realized the hands-on, high stress environment an SSW can face was not the right fit for her. Rachael was up for a challenge, but felt this wasn’t the kind she was looking for. It wasn’t until Rachael took a step back and re-evaluated exactly what she wanted to study and what she felt she could excel at that she realized what her calling was: writing.
At the time, Western University was one of the only nearby educational institutions that offered degrees in Creative Writing. With a love for living in London, it was a clear choice for Rachael. From 2013 until graduation in 2016, she studied English Language and Literature and Creative Writing at Western. While at first Rachael didn’t know exactly where the program would take her career-wise, she knew pursuing her passion for writing was worthwhile.
During her time at Western, Rachael took part in the work-study program where she worked as a Copywriter for the Faculty of Science. In this role, she interviewed faculty, alumni, and current students and created articles about their research and initiatives. With no science background, it was a true test for Rachael to take complex, scientific information, and boil it down to what mattered most: why what they were doing is so important.
It was this opportunity that opened her eyes to the field of Communications and Marketing, which to her was the perfect fit for leveraging her writing talents and helping others better share their stories. It’s where she found her voice and discovered how it could be used to help others.
Following her work-study role, Rachael began her current role as Communications Coordinator at the LEDC during the summer of 2015. The role was a summer student position and Rachael had one final year of school left, so she knew her job search wasn’t over yet. However, the skills gained from her work and educational experiences proved valuable to the corporation, and they wanted to keep her on the team. Rachael continued her role in a part-time capacity during the school year which evolved into full-time upon graduation.
Just over two years later, Rachael continues leveraging her writing, editing, communications, and creative skills every day at the LEDC. A typical day for Rachael starts with a media scan for interesting stories about local businesses in London to share and promote. She also spends her mornings focusing on any big, on-going projects or high priority items. Her day changes often, which keeps things interesting and keeps Rachael on her toes.
One of Rachael’s favourite parts of the job is that she has learned so much about London, the businesses here, and can help many different companies share their stories within and beyond London. It has reignited her love for the city in which she lives and makes her appreciate the innovations grown right here in London.
Rachael’s advice for current students is to start thinking about what you want to do as soon as you can! Once you know, you can start gaining relevant experience in the field you are interested in pursuing, which will help you find a job after graduation. Whether it be through work or volunteer experience, Rachael recommends getting involved through school programs and faculties.
“Seek volunteer, work-study, or committee experiences that will build your resume and give you hands-on skills you may not gain in your program. And of course, study what you love and love what you study – and let that approach spill over into your career choices too” said Rachael.