Thinking On Her Feet: Jackie Perez’s Story

Photo by David Lopez

Photo by David Lopez

As far back as she can remember, Jackie Perez has loved sports. She grew up playing basketball, volleyball and baseball, and when she was just five years old, she started to dance. While they’re good for keeping fit and teaching teamwork, the thing that’s kept Jackie coming back to athletics all these years is their unpredictability.

“The thing I’ve always loved most about sports is that they teach you to adapt and think on your feet,” she says. Things can change in a moment, and you need to be ready to roll with the punches.

That passion for sports meant that when Jackie came to the University of Guelph-Humber to take media studies, she had her eyes set on a career in sports media. A few years later, now a host for a RogersTV show and the in-game host for the Toronto Argonauts, Jackie uses what she learned from sports and her time at UofGH, staying on her toes as she makes live news.

Jackie started at UofGH in 2004 and quickly got involved with student media. When she wasn’t in class or helping produce the student newspaper, she found time to become an orientation leader and helped first-year students transition to university life. When she graduated in 2008, Jackie was hired by UofGH as a recruitment officer and travelled across Ontario telling the university’s story to high school students. After that, she worked for the Mississauga News, and a few years later, Jackie saw an opportunity to take another step towards combining her love of sports and media and applied to be an Argonauts cheerleader.

“Since I got that job, I haven’t looked back,” she says. Year after year as a cheerleader, Jackie took on more responsibility. After a successful first season, Jackie was made a squad captain, after that, she stepped up to run their social media accounts.

 “It was taking the foundations I learned at UofGH and using them to build the cheerleaders’ brand,” she says. “At UofGH I developed an eye for taking pictures, learned how to write a caption and to think about what to post to attract people and build a community. Because of my media education, I knew how to produce a video, shoot and edit it. I hadn’t done it before for the Argos, but I love to take on a challenge.”

Around that time, Jackie also started to host a Rogers TV show called InSauga Live, spending more time producing broadcast work. When she had spent more time in front of the camera, Jackie was given the chance to step up to the role of In-Game Host. Now, on game days Jackie interviews fans and keeps the audience energized between plays.

While she’s happy to be in the sports media role she’s always wanted, Jackie says one of the most gratifying parts of the job doesn’t happen inside the stadium or in front of the camera. When the game isn’t on, Jackie volunteers with the Argonauts’ Huddle Up Bullying Prevention Program, going into Toronto schools to talk about the importance of self-esteem and the effects of bullying.

“It’s one of the reasons I joined the Argos. I like to get involved with the community and give back,” she says. “There’s a lot of talk now about bullying, but kids don’t always know how to act, so it’s nice to have a chance to help and inspire them.”

         “There’s a lot of talk now about bullying, but kids don’t
             always know how to act, so it’s nice to have a chance to
             help and inspire them.”

One of the parts of Huddle Up she’s proudest of is their program talking with girls about bullying and teasing. While people often think of a bully as someone big and tough who might steal lunch money, Jackie says that for girls, especially in grades 6-8, it takes a different shape.

“Girls are more prone to social bullying, where they’ll tease, spread rumors or exclude someone else,” she says. “When you’re 11 or 12, you’re still trying to figure out who you are and it’s important to show girls that they can be a different way.”

Whether she’s in the classroom, the TV studio or at the stadium, Jackie is using the skills she’s developed from her media education and a lifetime of sports to adapt to new situations and give back to the community.

“I get an opportunity to be a role model,” she says. “I get a chance to change the conversation.”

 

With permission of the University of Guelph-Humber.  Learn more about Media Studies at UofGH

Media Maven, Aicha Cisse

By Abigayle Walker, WorkStory Ambassador at University of Ottawa

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Aicha Cisse is the Web Editor of MSN Canada, in charge of the Entertainment and Sports pages. Aicha is also responsible for the marketing of the Microsoft online store on MSN. She decides which Microsoft electronics or merchandise the site will promote and how it will be promoted. She likens her job to that of an Editor of an online magazine.

On a regular day, Aicha prioritizes any advertising campaigns that are running on the site. She works directly with advertisers on campaigns in order to generate a certain amount of clicks. If a campaign isn’t running, she focusses on keeping the site up to date with content, especially for the Entertainment and Sports pages. She sorts through the latest news stories from content providers like TMZ, Vanity Fair, and Vogue feeds and decides which source and content to feature on the site.

At Concordia University, Aicha originally majored in Biology. She soon discovered that the sciences were not the best fit for her; so she decided to seek assistance from her university’s career centre. The councillor gave Aicha a personality test, which revealed that she was well-suited to a career in Communications.  With this information in hand, Aicha transferred into the Communications program at Concordia University. After her program change, she found her passion for media and journalism. Beginning to work in newsrooms, Aicha learned that her niches were magazines and television.

Aicha started out as a writer for a start-up magazine, in the entertainment and lifestyle section. There she was able to build her portfolio and gain experience in the field. Due to the harsh competitive market, the magazine folded after the publication’s first issue. Being the go-getter that she is, Aicha pushed forward and found an internship at the CTV as a reporter for E-talk. Since this internship was unpaid, she searched online for work and stumbled across a positing for a Community Manager at Yahoo Canada.  Her responsibilities for this job were to moderate, screen spam comments, and to report abusive language that she found on the Yahoo Answer website. She developed an interest in further responsibilities whilst she was learning from her senior management team at Yahoo.  As people eventually left the company, Aicha was able to apply for an opening as a News Editor. From here, she gained a deeper interest in online news, social media, and  new technology.  She eventually got laid off from Yahoo, but through her strong networking abilities and experience in the flied, Aicha was soon hired at her position at Microsoft.

Aicha stresses that the industry she is in is extremely competitive. Her advice?  Work hard and hustle.  Be persistent. Develop impeccable writing and communication skills.  And above all else, know how to sell yourself! 

Dynamix Fitness: Lisa’s WorkStory

By Abigayle Walker, WorkStory Ambassador at University of Ottawa

Lisa Bergart owns her own personal training company called Dynamix Fitness. Her business provides professional in-home training for customers in the greater Toronto region. Saving busy customers a trek to their local gym, Lisa brings the experience to them. With customized workout plans that are tailored to each client’s fitness level and goals, Lisa is dedicated to helping her clients attain the results they desire. Lisa says that there is nothing better than seeing her clients reach their fitness goals and be who they have always wanted to be. Having over a decade of experience in the health and wellness industry, Lisa says she loves her job!

Typically, Lisa starts her day at the bright and early time of 6 AM in order  to meet her first clients. After her morning sessions, Lisa responds to email leads and client text messages. She also takes this time to post to the company website and social media pages. Throughout the rest of the day, she drives around the city and holds training sessions. Lisa says that each day is completely difference and depends on her clients’ schedules.

Lisa received her undergraduate degree at York University in Health and Social Science. She says her degree had provided her with a strong foundation in the health profession. In addition to her undergraduate education, Lisa also received a diploma at The Canadian School of Natural Nutrition, becoming a registered holistic nutritionist. She also went on to attain her certification as a post-rehabilitation specialist. This allows her to offer conditioning programs for over 30 medical conditions. In addition, she is also certified as a post and pre natal exercise specialist. On top of all this, Lisa took Seneca College’s Social Media program, which helped enhance her marketing and promotion skills.

Why start her own business?  Lisa had worked at several different gyms across Toronto; the last one being a private training studio. There, she gained the knowledge to create safe and effective customized training, which she needed to start her own business. Lisa was given extra motivation when two of the gymnastic teams she had been coaching received bronze medals overseas, at the Maccabiah Games in the summer of 2013. In addition to being this thrilled by this, it gave her that much more confidence in her ability to train people to reach their fitness goals. 

Lisa says that the success of her business is due to her strong social media presence, as well as her strong community connections through and events with various organizations.  Lisa’s business was featured at the Toronto Women's Expo, Feel Good Women's Expo, Cancer Recovery Foundation of Canada, and The Thornhill, Vaughan, and Aurora Festivals. Although her success has been on an upward incline, Lisa says one of the biggest challenges with owning her own business is staying up-to-date with all the current health and fitness trends.

Lisa’s advice for other young entrepreneurs who want to start their own businesses? Create a business plan and have monthly goals that excite you. Specifically for those in the health and fitness field, Lisa stresses the importance of staying current with health and fitness trends on social media. Her closing words?  Follow your passions and priorities!

No “Usual Days” for this Publicist: Meghan’s story

By Abigayle Walker, WorkStory Ambassador at University of Ottawa

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   Meghan holding a baby python while hosting a press junket for a show called Python Hunters.      

Meghan holding a baby python while hosting a press junket for a show called Python Hunters.

 

Meghan Hardy works as a publicist at Proper Television, one of Canada’s largest production companies.  Proper Television is responsible for producing numerous television series including Master Chef Canada, Storage Wars Canada, Four Weddings Canada, and Canada’s Worst Driver, to name a few.

For Meghan, no day is a usual day. Every day is different, which is exactly why she says she loves her job. The majority of her days are spent on the sets themselves –taking the press on set visits, facilitating media interviews, overseeing photo shoots, doing media training with the stars and ensuring that shows she is working on are receiving the most and best publicity possible.  When she isn’t on set, Meghan is in the office creating communication and social media plans, writing cast biographies, setting up photo shoots, and pitching interviews to the media. She explains that even though every day is fun, the job can also be also stressful and challenging. It forces her to think quickly on her feet, but she says that it makes her job that much more interesting.  She says she is constantly learning. 

Not only does Meghan love what she does, she also loves the people with whom she works, describing them as “some of the most creative and brilliant people in the entertainment industry”.  Meghan says she looks forward to work every day with people she loves being around.

As awesome as Meghan’s job is, it did not come to her without years of hard work.  Meghan began with an undergraduate degree in Media Studies/Public Relations and a Diploma in Public Relations from University of Guelph-Humber.  After graduating, she accepted an internship at Rogers Media with the publicity team under their television umbrella which includes City, OMNI Television, OLN, and FX Canada. Eventually, Rogers hired her as a public relations coordinator. From there, Meaghan was able to move into her current position at Proper. Meghan says that it was the combination of her 10 years of experience in the entertainment industry, networking, and creating good working relationships that helped land her current role at Proper Television. 

Although Meghan says she learned a lot of fundamentals from her post-secondary education, it was her experience that taught her much of what she knows about public relations. Her advice to others is to network, intern, and volunteer as much as possible!  She also advises those entering the communication industry to try to get a taste of several different sectors (government, entertainment, corporate, non-profit) before deciding which one seems the best fit.

Marketing Communications Specialist: “Very Chaotic…In a Good way!”

By Michelle Doyle, WorkStory Ambassador at Western University

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Susan Mutterback is Marketing Communications Specialist at StarTech.com, a manufacturer of products for IT professionals. The company extends beyond the headquarters in London, Ontario to 14 countries worldwide!

As a Marketing Communications Specialist, Susan handles social media, public relations and general marketing communication such as ads and catalogues. This is a new role and is “very chaotic…in a good way!”  Because it is new, Susan’s responsibilities were built from the ground up which she finds an exciting challenge. Her favourite part of the job?   Susan emphasized her admiration for the people she works with…she really enjoys the collaboration and brainstorming processes that occur day-to-day at the office. 

Susan’s work journey began at the University of Guelph where she studied Psychology in her first year.  She didn’t really have a solid idea of what she wanted to do, just a vague interest in the field. After that year, she knew it wasn’t a perfect fit for her and decided to take a year off to figure things out.  She moved back home and took courses at the University of Windsor to keep her average up. The following year, Susan transferred to Western University and started thinking about public relations and marketing.  She graduated from Western in political science and sociology and then applied to Western’s public relations program. Of all her formal education, Susan found public relations the most interesting area of study. The final four months of the program involved an internship position. Susan particularly enjoyed this and found it extremely valuable in helping her gain real-world experience in the field.

After the internship, Susan had completed her education, but had received no job offers. She moved back home and worked at an unpaid internship for about 9 months. During this time, she remained persistent and applied to job after job, not receiving any replies. Finally, Susan was thrilled to receive a call from StarTech.com!  She moved right back to London, joined the company, and hasn’t looked back since.

Susan started out in a marketing role that was mainly sales focused. She enjoyed it, but was particularly interested in getting a position in her field.  When the Marketing Communications Specialist job opened up, she applied!

Susan has nothing but positive comments about working for StarTech.com, and is thrilled to be at such a wonderful company and working with such collaborative and supportive coworkers.   When asked what advice she’d give to those entering the job market,  Susan’s first words were “It’s hard”.  Then she highlighted the importance of taking jobs that aren’t necessarily in your specific desired field for the experience you will get from working.  She emphasized the “foot in the door” approach, the importance of starting off somewhere, and getting your name out there.  Lastly, she noted that unpaid internships can be good experiences. Susan was thankful for hers and believes that students entering the job field should not underestimate them.


Twists and Turns to a Dream Job: Sabrina’s Story

By Michelle Doyle, WorkStory Ambassador at Western University

If I told you that Sabrina Silveira is the Alumni Coordinator in the Advancement & Alumni Relations office at Humber College would you have the faintest idea what that means?   

As Sabrina told me “I know many people don’t know what alumni means, nor would they know what the role of an Alumni Coordinator would entail. It’s not an insult…it’s one of the many reasons I have a job!  For those who are unfamiliar with what ‘alumni’ is, it’s just a fancy Latin word for graduate.  In short, I act as the middleman that connects Humber back to our grads.” 

Sabrina’s role varies from day-to-day.  She describes her daily tasks as a set of on-going projects “from graphic design, social media management, copy writing and editing, to event planning and relationship building”.  Sabrina is always “kept on her toes and is able to tap into her creativity” with such a varying, multifaceted job. This is also the reason she cannot pinpoint a favourite part of her job.

Sabrina can, however, identify an essential part of her job - her manager, whose continual support has gotten her to where she is today.  She emphasizes the importance of having a superior “who truly cares for you, looks out for you and appreciates all that you do”.  She adds that most of us are working for the majority of our lives and would all have mental breakdowns without a strong support system around us. Sabrina feels that without this healthy, supportive relationship that she has with her manager, she wouldn’t be able to do all the things that she loves working on today. So, however “strange” it may seem to have a manager be one of the primary individuals you lean on for support, those relationships may be the most important ones, not only for your career, but for your happiness.

So how did Sabrina get here – to the job of her dreams?  Well, her journey started at the University of Guelph-Humber, where she studied media and communications.  In her final year of the program, she landed a position with a student travel agency in Toronto as her internship requirement for her program. Sabrina   isn’t exaggerating when she says “this is where I really began my career” as after only a month into the internship, she was offered a full-time position as a Production Designer!  “In this role I focused largely on designing collateral for the company, as well as writing blogs, monitoring social media, and - one of my favourite projects - designing our destination staff uniforms!”  Needless to say, Sabrina really enjoyed working at this agency and felt that she was really excelling at her career.

However, a year and a half into the new job, she was “faced with one of life’s upsets”. This influenced her decision to get a new job. She wanted to work close to home which made job hunting even more of a challenge than it already was. Sabrina describes the job search process as “possibly the worst thing a new graduate can go through”.  She explains that she felt worthless and felt that everything she had worked for was all for nothing in the eyes of potential employers.  She wasn’t even getting callbacks for jobs for which she was sure she was over-qualified.  After over a hundred job applications, Sabrina finally heard back from one.  It was nothing fancy, but it was a paid position related to her field.


“Whether you believe it or not, there will always be one specific experience in your life (if not more!)  that will change your perspective completely. This job was it for me. To say accepting this position was the worst thing I could have done is an understatement. I will tell this story again and again until I lose my voice, because I know there are others out there that may be in the same situation I was in, and I only wish I can provide some hope and encouragement to them.”  Her first week on the job consisted of coffee runs and cleaning up the lunchroom after people ate - all without the presence of her mysterious manager. To make matters worse, she caught a cold after the first few days but - although feeling horrible- she forced herself to come to work.  But that’s not all. Her HR manager actually phoned her explaining how she was disrupting her colleagues by coughing and sneezing. They feared she was contagious, making her feel alienated and as if she “should have been quarantined”.  This dreadful first week was followed by months of crying alone in the car during lunch breaks and feeling “completely disregarded as a human being”.  So why did she go through this? Well, she didn’t want to quit. She felt that she owed it to herself to push through it. In fact, it wasn’t until her parents begged her to quit that she really took a step back and analyzed her life.

On a Tuesday morning last year, Sabrina received an email from her past manager, blaming her for something she had nothing to do with. His words made her choke up until she couldn’t even breathe. She scheduled an emergency meeting with her HR manager who said there was nothing she could do for Sabrina and that the way she was being treated was her own problem.  Sabrina quit right then and there.  I know, I know. Good for her!!

After that experience, Sabrina started seeing life very differently. “I started to realize that there are two types of people in this world – the type of person who will respect you and the type of person who never will. We’re only on this earth for a finite period of time – why sacrifice your life and mental health working for people who – no matter what – only look down on you? I value my life too much to ever let that happen again.”

This time around on the job search, Sabrina was smart about where she applied. She nailed down the positions that she knew she would be happy in, rather than applying everywhere. Of course, still no replies.   So, she reached out to her professors, deans, old managers, her mentors (“which is probably the best piece of advice I can give anyone”, she says). She explains that she finally didn’t feel alone and had a lot of support from these individuals.  Luckily, a position had opened up in her old department -  a position that mimicked exactly what she wanted in a career.  “It was fate! My previous manager called me in for an interview and here I am today.  I’ve never been happier” 

If you’re gong to take anything away from Sabrina’s story, it’s that you should listen to yourself and make sure you are doing what makes you happy.

Also, keep in contact with your mentors!

Laughing at His Nightmare: Shane Burcaw’s Story

By Annette Dawm, WorkStory Ambassador

Shane Burcaw is the President of his own non-profit organization called Laughing At My Nightmare, Inc. He is also an inspiration to everyone he comes in contact with, whether it’s in person or online. When Shane was two, he was diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy Type II, which is a form of Muscular Dystrophy. Together with his cousin Sarah and the other employees at Laughing At My Nightmare, Inc. Shane helps other families who are impacted by the disease, while raising funds that go towards research—and making people laugh:

“I started this company about three years ago with my cousin Sarah, and now that we have both graduated from university, we work full-time with several other employees to change the world every day! Our mission is to help families affected by muscular dystrophy get the items they need to live comfortable, healthy, productive lives. We also work to teach people about the benefits of humor and positivity.” To date, Laughing At My Nightmare Inc. has raised over $17,000 for Muscular Dystrophy research!

Shane is a graduate of Moravian College in Bethlehem, PA and he grew up in Bethlehem as well, but through his social media presence, he is reaching people all around the world:

“In 2011, I started a blog about living with Spinal Muscular Atrophy. I live with the knowledge that my muscles are wasting away as I get older, and some day my disease will cut my life short. However, I’ve learned that approaching my problems with a sense of humor makes them much easier to deal with. To my utter amazement, my blog took off, and pretty soon I had hundreds of thousands of followers tuning in to my stories! Along the way, I decided to write a memoir, which just recently came out. You can purchase an autographed copy via laughingatmynightmare.com

Although it may be difficult to get around at times, Shane says what he loves the most about his job is traveling and meeting new people:

“One of the biggest things I do for my job is traveling to give speeches to schools and businesses. We have developed an awesome presentation that makes the audience laugh and think about their lives from a new perspective. I love interacting with people, getting to know their stories. Plus, I get to see the world in the process, which I also love!”

In 2013, Shane was featured in a documentary series called “My Last Days”. The documentary was created by the people at SoulPancake, a media company (and YouTube Channel) which was founded by actor, Rainn Wilson. The video, which was directed by Justin Baldoni, is worth watching in its entirety. It follows Shane and his close family and friends as he shows us what his “nightmare” consists of. However, through it all, they laugh together as well as at each other and carry on about their days in a positive light. For Burcaw, “The SoulPancake experience was life changing.” He says that “they brought my story to the world in such a beautiful way.” You can watch the video here. Also in 2013, Shane won an Emmy award for a documentary he co-produced called “Happiness Is Always an Option”!

Shane Burcaw lives every day like it is his last, not because it could be, but because it is a good way to live (and work) in order to achieve his goals. Here are Shane’s words of encouragement for anyone who may need them:

“Expect the unexpected. So many times throughout life, things have turned out in a way that has completely blown my mind. Anything is possible if you just go for it. But nothing is possible if you give up because you’re expecting to fail or not reach your biggest dreams.”

To learn more about Shane and to make a donation to his non-profit organization, or to buy an autographed copy of his hilarious book, Laughing at My Nightmare, please visit,

www.laughingatmynightmare.com . You can also read his blog, where it all began on Tumblr and follow him on Twitter.

Reigniting an Old Passion: Gareth, CHRW, & the Argonauts

By Karli Steen, WorkStory Ambassador

In high school, Toronto Argonauts reporter Gareth Bush had always seen himself as a Canine Police Officer. However, in mid-pursuit of his Criminology degree at Western University, his passion for the world of sports media was reignited. Gareth attributes the re-ignition to his time spent volunteering with the campus radio station CHRW: "My time at CHRW Radio completely changed my life.  They gave me so much freedom to explore the sports broadcasting world.  I started hosting my own sports show, colour commentated the football games, and covered many mainstream sports events for the station.  It's the reason why I'm where I am."

After the rediscovery of his passion and the completion of his undergrad, Gareth went for his Masters in Journalism, which helped him attain his position as Digital Media & Communications Assistant with the Argonauts. While Gareth has always known that his passion has been within Journalism and the world of sports, he also has a passion for music.  He admits that both passions have been closely intertwined, as his music gigs helped pay for his education.

A day on the job has never a dull moment, and when asked what his job entailed, Gareth had this to say: "Every day is different.  If it's during a regular day of practice I'm with the team.  Putting together videos, interviewing players, filming lots of stuff.  Also running the social media accounts and our website.  If it's a game day I'm writing the recap, making/printing all the stat sheets, and a bunch of other little jobs."

Although Journalism isn't among the highest paying of jobs, Gareth says that the experience is priceless: "You meet new and exciting people with new stories to tell every day.  In my case being a sports-focused journalist, you get to see some of the most exciting and historic sporting events take place worldwide.  Plus you get paid to watch the game and tell the world about it.  It's great."

His current position with the Argonauts is the beginning of a long and rewarding adventure, and Gareth says he's on the right track.  He's where he wants to be, covering pro games and athletes every day.  And, like every newcomer to a career, he looks forward to climbing the ladder.

For those interested in joining the field, Gareth shared these words of wisdom: "Get as much experience as you possibly can.  Whatever it is you want to do, just stick your feet in as many doors as possible.  Volunteer like crazy.  Sports journalism relies very heavily on young and aspiring interns to do a lot of the dirty work.  Take on as much as you can.  When I started, I was hosting my own show, reporting, producing, colour commentating, writing, etc.  All for free. But it got me tons of experience and built up a heck of a portfolio.  Also, shake every hand you can find in the business.  Word of mouth is strong in journalism.  The more contacts you make, the better your odds are of getting in."

Catch Gareth in action at
www.argonauts.ca
Listen to his other passion here: www.youtube.com/gareth9

Look for the open doors!

By Rachel Gardner

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Hashtags, Twitter handles, video editing and Facebook posts are a part of my daily job at the Council of Ontario Universities (COU). My path to this career was not straightforward, but I am certainly glad to have ended up where I am today.

COU is a membership organization for the 20 provincially-assisted universities, advocating for policy issues such as research, accessibility, jobs, and graduate studies. As the Communications and Public Affairs Officer with COU in Toronto, I wear multiple hats, doing everything from updating social media to managing the organization’s website and editing news releases, reports and government statements. It is a rare occasion indeed to find some spare time in the day!

The journey to get here has been not been without its twists and turns – I graduated from Mount Allison University in 2012 with an honours bachelor of arts in international relations, and a double minor in economics and environmental studies. I was interested in everything, but especially loved writing, editing and journalism. I had spent two years on staff at my student paper, The Argosy, first as the political beat writer and then as the news editor, and loved the thrill of chasing a story. By the time of my graduation, I had accepted an offer into the master of journalism program at Carleton University.

The summer after the first year of my master’s program, I took an internship with the Council of Ontario Universities, using my journalism skills and knowledge of the CP Style Guide in a role as a communications intern. Though I had originally intended to spend my summer in a newsroom, I had difficulty landing a paid journalism internship and decided to learn more about what a career in communications would be like. My employers gave me a number of projects to spearhead, including the launch of a student career site, creating short videos and managing the organization’s social media. At the end of the summer, they offered me a full-time job with the organization. Despite it being a tough decision, I decided to put my schooling on pause and have now been happily with the organization for just over one year. No regrets!

If I could give one piece of advice to students searching for their own career path, it is to be open to new opportunities. Get involved in student clubs and extra-curriculars to explore the areas where you are most passionate and find the greatest challenge. See where your talents best fit with those of others. Be open to trying something new, and don’t limit yourself.

There are lots of possibilities out there – look for the open doors!

I am a Writer

I am a Writer. Always have been and always will be, but I also dream of finding a career in publishing. I am currently working as a Publicity Intern at Random House of Canada and I LOVE it. I love tagging along on author excursions, I enjoy ordering and mailing out books, and I enjoy taking part in events. Thanks to this internship I’ve had a chance to see what different departments do and I finally know what department I want to pursue: Online Marketing. I love the idea of working and connecting with people on a daily basis. I love the idea of spending my days making online marketing plans for great books and getting a wonderful book noticed. It also helps that I’m quite in love with blogging, tweeting, and social media.   

 

But where am I now and how did I get “here” -- to a place on the brink of my future, on the path to getting my dream job. Well, I guess it started with getting a three-year B.A in English from York University. After which I wasn’t sure what to do. I was working at a local pizza place and was lucky enough to get full-time hours there in order to save a little money. While serving piping hot pizza, I also worked on my writing, and hunted tirelessly for a job. I quickly learned that an English degree and NO experience would NOT get me a job in publishing. I still applied for jobs and wasn’t surprised when I didn’t receive any callbacks. I then spoke with my parents and we decided it might be a good idea to go back to school and get my publishing certificate. I found Chang’s School of Continuing Education and applied to for their publishing program. In order to qualify, you must already have a B.A from a recognized University. The great thing about this program is that you can complete the courses online or in class and you have up to six years to complete it. 

 

Another great thing about the Chang School program is that as a student you receive emails of upcoming internships and positions available. Most of which are from the top publishing houses in Toronto. One thing I realized from these emails was that all of them required the applicant to be enrolled in a publishing certificate. YOU NEED A PUBLISHING DEGREE OR CERTIFICATE TO GET INTO PUBLISHING. I also realized that I (obviously) wasn’t the only person to receive these emails. Every single student in my program receives them and most apply for them: publishing is a very competitive industry. 

 

About a week after enrolling in my first class I got a call from a children’s educational book publishing company asking me to come in for an interview. After two separate hour-long interviews I was hired as an editor and put my schooling on the back-burner. I stayed on as editor for about nine months before realizing that editing wasn’t something I wanted to pursue. So back to the pizza place I went, and back to school as well. 

 

I applied to Random House a few times before I got a callback. I went for two interviews for their Winter internship and was heartbroken when I didn’t get it. BUT when it came time for them to conduct interviews for the Spring, I applied and (obviously) got the internship and I lived happily ever after....

 

Okay, so my story hasn’t ended. In fact, it’s just getting started but I have learned some amazing things during my internship that will (hopefully) help me land a job. Firstly, publishing is a very small industry, everybody knows everybody, so it’s important to get yourself out there, to get to know people, to attend events, and to work your butt off so that people remember you! Having a blog, a twitter account, and an online presence has really helped. Thanks to my blog I was contacted by one of the online marketing coordinators at Random House and asked if I wanted to review books for them! I truly believe that having that on my resume and already having a connection with someone on their team really helped get the internship there. 

 

Secondly, it’s up to you to ask questions. It’s up to you to show interest and to make the MOST of your 12 weeks! I’ve kept a little internship journal on my blog that you can check out if you’re interested in learning more about what a publicity internship at Random House is like:  http://mypenmyvoice.com/bursting-the-bubble/.

 

You’ll notice that I’m nearly finished my internship and pretty soon I’ll get to start a new chapter in my life. Hopefully this chapter ends with the job of my dreams but even if it doesn’t I still have my writing. I still have my blog, and I can still contribute to other blogs, and that’s perfectly fine by me. 

 

Vanessa Grillone