May 3, 2016
By Mike Killeen for the CSB/SJU Magazine
Adam Tucker graduated from Saint John's University in 2014. In his four years at SJU, Tucker — who was raised in Omaha, Nebraska — got to wear many hats.
We're not talking about baseball hats, stocking caps or even football helmets (not even his beloved Denver Broncos or Nebraska Cornhuskers).
For eight semesters, he worked in the Office of Marketing and Communications as a student media relations assistant/writer.
He also worked four years at The Record, the award-winning student newspaper of the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John's University.
Balancing jobs in student news and institutional public relations with a full course load might seem daunting, but it worked out just fine for Tucker. And he wasn't alone.
In fact, the last three editors-in-chief of The Record have also taken student jobs in marketing and communications. Tucker was editor-in-chief for three semesters in 2012-14, Beth Leipholtz in 2014-15 and now Jake Schultz in 2015-16. In addition, 2013 CSB graduate Jill Yanish served as managing editor in 2012-13.
"In your career, you have to play a lot of roles," Tucker says. "Being employed as a student while in college lets you begin to try out that multi-role experience in a relatively safe learning environment.
"It is one of the best things you can do for your collegiate career, and the career that comes after," Tucker says.
Student employment is an important part of the overall experience at the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John's University. During the 2014-15 academic year:
The experience pays off for students both financially and experientially. Surveys of student workers indicate that the top five skills gained while working on campus include communication, time-management, professionalism, teamwork and responsibility, according to Angie Mareck, director of student employment at CSB and SJU.
"I would encourage any student to take a work award if they are offered one, but to try and find a student job that somehow correlates with what they want to do as a career. Making those connections and learning skills as a student employee is beneficial when it comes to the real world," Leipholtz says.
Beth Leipholtz '15
Becoming a member of the Fourth Estate was all Beth Leipholtz ever wanted to do.
However, getting sober in college and starting a blog to write about it was never part of that plan.
"Going into the media had been my intention since the ninth grade, so the blog didn't make me come to that conclusion (of going into the media)," says Leipholtz, who graduated from the College of Saint Benedict in 2015 with a degree in communication after serving as editor-in-chief of The Record her senior year.
"However, I do think (the blog) helped to propel me in the right direction because of the connections I made and the places I wrote for," says Leipholtz, who started a job in November at the Echo Press in Alexandria, Minnesota, as a reporter and social media manager. "I am lucky enough to have a job in journalism today, which has been my passion. Yet, I am able to continue freelancing and running my blog in my spare time. I get the best of both worlds."
Her blog tackles her own battle with sobriety while attending college. Her work was picked up by many outlets, including the Huffington Post and Cosmopolitan magazine.
"I started doing (the blog) for myself, as a way of coping, and it just kind of took off," she says. "There is a very active online sober community, and crossing paths with them kind of propelled my work forward.
"Before I knew it, I was freelancing and writing for the Huffington Post, which I wasn't about to argue with," she says. "It all kind of fell into my lap, but I love doing it. It can be difficult to get your foot in the door with freelance work, and my being sober kind of made me stand out and helped me open the door so I could tackle other topics.
"Professionally, I think just having Huffington Post on my resume was huge. It's a well-known publication and tends to stand out to people, so that helped me get my foot in the door to a lot of positions."
Like her current job in Alexandria. Writing about her sobriety pushed her out of her comfort zone, and "nothing has ever forced me to be as honest as examining myself and my sobriety," Leipholtz says. "I think telling my story has been a good thing in terms of after-college life," Leipholtz says. "I actually talked about it at the interview for the job I currently have, and I don't regret that. I honestly think it was part of why I got the job. It made me real and showed who I really was."
Jake Schultz '16
During the summer of 2015, members of the Marketing and Communications office staff were trying to select someone to conduct a video interview with Saint John's University President Michael Hemesath, who had just been appointed to his second three-year term.
Anderson Cooper? Not available. Oprah Winfrey? Too expensive.
Then, the staff turned to a student employee who was sitting in the room.
Jake Schultz had worked as a student employee in the office since January 2015, and on this July day was asked to interview the president. As any good student journalist would do, Schultz - who was about to become the editor-in-chief of The Record newspaper - eagerly accepted.
Schultz, however, is an English major. That isn't unique on the staff of the paper, where communication and English majors work alongside chemistry and biology majors.
"My favorite part of CSB/SJU is that they allow me to do a bit of everything. That's exactly what the liberal arts is all about, and I've been very lucky to do so much," Schultz says. "While most of my work has been involved in my major or my love of the media, I still believe that my time in college has been indicative of what the liberal arts are about. I haven't needed to specialize in only newspapers or stick with my English major and only work with literature. I've gone cross-discipline and I've had plenty of hands-on experience doing a variety of activities I enjoy," Schultz says.
That background has also helped him as editor-in-chief of The Record. Since the experience level at the paper varies from semester to semester, he is more of a teacher than a gruff editor. He has to be "ready for everything."
"Some people need my help much more than others, so it's important to use everything I do as learning moments for myself and the other writers and editors," Schultz says. "I'm a firm believer that the best way to get better is to teach, and because we don't have a journalism program, a lot of that teaching comes down to myself or other editors.
"Teaching others what a good story is versus a bad story makes me think a bit more about how I can get better. I've also been able to see a different side of newspapers. As editor-in-chief, I have to look at more than just the stories or layout; I am working on the business side and social media and the general direction of the newspaper," Schultz says.
Adam Tucker '14
Not having done something before is no excuse for not trying to do it now.
Just ask Adam Tucker.
Tucker came to Saint John's University in the fall of 2010 and wanted to write for The Record, the award-winning student newspaper of the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John's University. He got on the staff of the paper right away, but it wasn't in the position he originally sought.
"I started right away as a news editor in an amusing mix-up with a staff vacancy," Tucker says. "I came into the newsroom in the fall of my freshman year, assuming I was 'applying' to be a reporter - I even brought my resume. I had attended one meeting for reporters up to this point.
"As it turned out, it was an interview to be one of the on-staff news editors, a position which I held until I was asked to join the executive board," he says.
Tucker had a four-year run at The Record, ultimately becoming editor-in-chief of the paper for his final three semesters. He also worked four years for the schools' Office of Marketing and Communications. He found the combination of reporting breaking, relevant news while also wearing the hat of a student media relations assistant unique.
"It forced me to be both accountable and honest to each role," Tucker says. "I had to learn to be focused on being the most valuable in whatever role I was operating. I had to be a 'wearer of different hats.' It wasn't really a challenge that ever truly became a problem.
"Self-control is a marketable skill, and one that this perspective and experience between the two roles taught me. And it was also a symbiotic relationship - the student job gave me both stories and contacts for the newspaper, and the public relations office benefitted from being able to leverage our story ideas, and often, our student writers and contacts."
Tucker, who now works in corporate communications for General Electric in San Francisco, encourages students to take a student employment position at CSB and SJU, calling it a "rare window of opportunity."
"Student employment deepens your connection to your school, affords you resume-boosting professional experiences before graduation and makes you more responsible for your time management," Tucker says.
Jill Yanish '13
Having the right supervisor as a student employee at the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John's University can make all the difference in the world.
Jill Yanish spent her first three years as a student at CSB preparing to become a journalist. Then, during the first part of her senior year...
"I had a career-switch crisis and no longer thought that journalism was the right fit for me," says Yanish, a 2013 graduate.
That's where Glenda Isaacs Burgeson stepped in. Burgeson was Yanish's student supervisor in the schools' Office of Marketing and Communications, and sat down to have a talk with her.
"Glenda had been vocally weary of my sudden career-path change," Yanish says. "One day, she sat me down in her office and we had a very long conversation.
"I told her I was anxious about the journalism career outlook and job opportunities. She told me to follow my dreams and it will all work out," Yanish says. "I'm very thankful for the confidence she has instilled in me and that I had such a great role model."
Yanish is happy she stayed in her career choice. In September 2015 she started a new job as an associate digital editor at Mpls. St. Paul Magazine. She manages the magazine's social media accounts, creates and executes digital strategy, gathers and reports web and social analytics, coordinates e-newsletters and writes online blogs.
Prior to her job at the magazine, Yanish was an associate editor at PBS, working on one of its flagship digital programs called Next Avenue.
Yanish says her three-year student work experience with the Office of Marketing and Communications and her three years with The Record have helped her in her career.
"From working at The Record, I gained the knowledge and the experience of reporting, writing and journalistic integrity. And from working on public relations in the OMC office, I learned about branding and marketing," Yanish says.
"While these worlds are different, these skill sets have prepared me for my career and made me more well-rounded," Yanish says. "The student employment program really adds to the wholesome experience you get at a liberal arts college."
Update: Megan Flynn '17 was named The Record's Editor-in-Chief for the 2016-2017 school year. Flynn carries on the tradition of marketing and communications student workers holding the post — as she is a student writer in the office — just like the four editors before her.