RealJobs: Patricia McLaughlin Carey

I graduated from Boston College in 1982 in what everyone said was the worst economy since the Great Depression. Sound familiar? I remember wondering whether I would ever get a real job and who in the world would hire me.

The good news is that I’ve built a rewarding professional life on the foundation of my B.C. education–and you will, too. And yes, in case you’re wondering, I started out with one of those allegedly impractical liberal arts degrees. Mine was in French and Italian.

I’m the vice president for college relations at Connecticut College, a small, excellent liberal arts college in New London, Conn. My job is divided between overseeing the college’s internal and external communications and being one of the seven senior administrators who work with the president to manage the college’s operations and plan for the future.

A typical day for me oscillates between hands-on projects and big-picture strategy. This morning, I helped finalize photo and caption choices for a Web page redesign. Later, I prepared a presentation for trustees that will show how the redesign fits into our broad marketing strategy. After that, I worked on talking points for communicating about the budget. In between, I posted to my Twitter feed, checked out comments on the college’s Facebook page and fielded scores of e-mail on everything from licensing our logo to helping a student find a summer internship.

At the most basic level, my job is to tell stories—to stitch words and images into narratives that inform, educate and inspire. Connecticut College is celebrating its Centennial this year, and I’m co-chairing the committee to plan the year-long celebration. This college was originally all-women, founded because other colleges and universities wouldn’t admit women. It became co-educational in 1969, around the same time B.C. began admitting women to the College of Arts and Sciences.  One of our Centennial goals is to raise awareness of the college’s founding story and how it shapes the college of today. Here’s how we told that story in a two-minute video.

For a career in communications, hone your storytelling skills. Think about the underlying narrative of your classes and analyze how that story takes shape for you through lectures, presentations, readings and class discussion. Think, too, about how you tell your personal story—how you talk about your experiences, accomplishments and ambitions—in a job interview or a cover letter.

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