Alumni Share Knowledge at Festival of Careers in Writing

Students explored how writing skills translate into a variety of careers at a daylong festival with returning Beloit College alumni working in journalism, editing, translating, marketing, communications, and more.

On Saturday, February 17, the English Department and Worldbuilding Career Channel hosted the Festival of Careers in Writing in the Moore Lounge. The day included discussions among alumni with careers in the fields of writing, including journalism, editing, grant writing, marketing, and communication. It served as an opportunity for students to network and receive advice on their career paths.

The keynote speaker was Kirk Williamson, a Production Manager at Chicago Reader. Throughout his speech, he talked about the non-linear pathway he took to get to where he was. Williamson recounted a time when he quit his current job at the time in the late 2000’s and on the train ride home stopped at the office of Gab Magazine. He left the office unsure but ended up with the job he wanted.

Williamson concluded his speech with, “Don’t expect any of this to be a linear thing. Go out into the world, apply yourself, stay true to who you know yourself very well to be, stick to your passions, stick to your principles, stick to your own path, and to hell with the law.”

The other speakers shared this sentiment. Angel Idowu’16, an Arts Correspondent for Chicago’s PBS Station, who was part of the Journalism Panel, talked about having a good foundation by gaining experiences from freelancing, internships, fellowships, and more. “It doesn’t always have to be linear in the sense that it is long term just looking at them all as little pebbles that you are collecting.”

Lynn Vollbrecht’06, a Marketing Coach at Optum said, “Take everything as a learning experience if you don’t feel valued or compensated… If you don’t feel valued or appreciated, move on to the next thing. A thing I have learned is my career is mine.”

Networking was the main goal of the whole event. There were breaks in between each segment to allow for students to talk to the alumni present. They were also able to talk over dinner to continue previous conversations and start up new ones.

Jonathan Hopkins’01, an Assistant Director of Foundation Relations at Beloit College, and Kaitlin Stainbrook’11, a Senior Marketing Writer at UW-Milwaukee, both discussed how networking was an important tool to implement. Gaining those personal relationships with foundations and people you are working closely with.

Freelancing and getting your foot in the door was a point Kelsey Rettke’15, Editor of the Daily Chronicle, encouraged. She discussed pitching things to different newspapers and magazines and letting them know what you are interested in, allowing the publication to reach out if they have an extra story.

Career Works’ Emily Sager put on a resume writing workshop in between panels. The goal was to help students translate their own writing and experience into an appealing resume and elevator pitch. Students were then encouraged to practice networking and use the skills they had just acquired when walking to the alumni. Students were also encouraged to stop by the Career Works office, on the first floor of Pearsons, or shoot them an email if they have any questions or want to continue building their resume.

Building resilience to ridicule or “tough skin” was another common theme amongst panelists. Rettke said, “It’s a lot of pitching to a bunch of nos.” Stainbrook once had the entire state of Minnesota mad at her for not including their state in an article about birding when it was just an editing mishap.

Student clubs were also given the floor to pitch their club to those in attendance as well as answer any questions. The collaborative writing clubs on campus represented were the Aardvark Authors, the Round Table, the Beloit Fiction Journal, and the Worldbuilding Collective.


(This article originally appeared in the Beloit College Round Table.)

By: Vanessa Skildum'27
February 28, 2024

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