Two CJ graduates find careers within UW-Eau Claire’s Integrated Marketing and Communications

Ben Shinners and Casie Kampf, two recent graduates of the CJ department have found a home in the UW-Eau Claire Integrated Marketing and Communications department as full-time marketing specialists. Shinners graduated in December of 2014, while Kampf followed in December of 2015. Although the two took different routes to where they are today, they both credit the CJ Department and its efforts for getting them where they are today.

Casie Kampf

First of all, could you explain your job title and what exactly you do in your position?

Ben and I have the exact same job titles, Marketing Specialists. We are specifically on the website redesign project for the university, which means our main focus is writing new content for whatever department we are working on during a six week period. We come up with the clever one-liners, the cheesy introductions and most importantly, we write the content to help explain what a department does, what they offer and what a prospective student could get out of the program. Right now the website is full of jargon and information that’s unnecessary for the prospective student, our job is to take all of that out and make it new and fresh.

What do you like most about working in IMC and your individual positions? What do you like about being able to stay in Eau Claire?

I love UW-Eau Claire and the city of Eau Claire. I remember scrolling through HigherEdJobs.com and seeing UWEC had a job posting in a department I was incredibly interested in being a part of.

Casie Kampf and Ben Shinners pose for a photo inside of their offices located on the second floor of the Old Library.
Casie Kampf and Ben Shinners pose for a photo inside of their offices located on the second floor of the Old Library.

Now I’m here and I really love it. Nothing is more satisfying than seeing your work on display for hundreds of browsers to see. Eau Claire is my comfort zone, so staying here was definitely a plus. I love exploring the city as a young professional, instead of as a student.

What classes and professors in the CJ department would you say prepared you for your new positions the most?

Evan Perrault and Maureen Schriner, easily. These two have pushed me since the day I met them. Evan was my professor for CJ 373 – Public Relations Writing and CJ 374 – Campaign Planning, and I wish he taught more of the upper level classes so I could have continued to have him as my professor. He taught me the most valuable skills during my time in the CJ department and I owe him a lot of my success. Maureen was my adviser as well as my professor in CJ 260 – Intro to PR (which is now Intro to Integrated Strategic Communication) and CJ 491 – Special Topics, where I was introduced to the Integrated Marketing and Communications team. She has always been a reference for me, someone to chat through confusing moments and a constant supporter of any dream I wanted to chase. Without Dr. Perrault or Dr. Schriner, I would not be where I am today and I wouldn’t have the aspirations that I have now.

What was the transition like after graduating and going through the hiring process with IMC?

My transition was really weird. I interviewed for the position in IMC during my final semester and I began working (training) here on November 30th which was a little less than a month before my graduation. So needless to say, my last few weeks of classes were pretty stressful, but worth it in the end. Now that I’m fully graduated, the transition has gone well. It’s been pretty strange still being on campus while a good number of my friends are still in classes and participating in great organizations. However, this is a great stepping stone for me, so a few weird moments can’t bring me down.

What tips and tricks or words of advice do you have for current CJ students as they begin to search for jobs whether inside or outside of the university?

Don’t be afraid to apply for jobs you think you may not qualify for. No matter what, you’ll get great experience writing a cover letter, asking for references and editing your resume. Who knows, maybe you’ll get the interview and then the job. The CJ department is preparing you to be great if you let it. Lean on your professors and soak in everything they teach you. Find connections everywhere you go, too. I would not have this job if I didn’t have the connections I have around campus. Lastly, don’t get down if you don’t get the job you were really gunning for. There are loads of opportunities for you in this world. If you asked me in August if I thought I’d still be in the Midwest working, I would have laughed in your face. Yet, here I am in a job where I learn something new every day. You’ll be surprised what cards you’ll be dealt.

Ben Shinners

What do you like most about working in IMC and your individual position? What do you like about being able to stay in Eau Claire?

I have the freedom to write in a casual tone that makes writing composition a lot of fun. The work environment is fairly casual with everyone knowing when it is time to goof around and when to put it in hard work.

Eau Claire is a city on the rise with a lot of growth in culture, especially music. I also like to be active and Eau Claire has great bike paths and is incredibly close to nature.

What classes and professors in the CJ department would you say prepared you for your new positions the most?

Maureen Schriner and Terry Chmielewski prepared me quite a bit. Schriner really opened my eyes to what modern public relations and marketing techniques are and how/when use them.

Chmielewski gave me a solid foundation in public relations writing along with other skills public relations/marketing professionals use every day.

The class that left biggest impression on me was CJ 222 taught by Jan Larson. This course was incredibly difficult and time consuming. But I can safely say it vastly improved my writing and gave me the thick skin you need as a writer. If you can’t take criticism of your work you will never improve as a writer.

What was the transition like after graduating and going through the hiring process with IMC?

It was relatively stress free because I already had strong roots outside of the University. After graduation I transitioned to a part time marketing job at a local food cooperative. There I learned digital marketing techniques and most importantly I learned how to write attractive copy. You only have a few words to truly engage your audience so make them count!

The hiring process went well and I was fairly confident due to my previous work experience at the co-op and being an alum. Most importantly I researched the job position. Being able to use language and specific terms that the IMC used already gave me a leg up. When you apply for a job make sure you know everything about the company and the position front and back.

What tips and tricks or words of advice do you have for current CJ students as they begin to search for jobs whether inside or outside of the University?

Look for a position you can see yourself in. Don’t waste time applying to places that pay well but you will hate being.That could cause you to burn out and miss out on a potentially successful career.

-WRITE! And then write some more! Find your voice and once you do, be true to it.

-Develop a thick skin when it comes to having your work edited.

-Be passionate about what you do. You have a long, successful career ahead of you and fill it doing something you love.

 

These two students took what they learned from the CJ department and put it to great use in the real world. Feel free to share your post graduate opportunities with us in the comments below!

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