Every Career Has a Story

August 28, 2014

Because a seemingly endless amount of information—aka the Internet—is literally at our fingertips whenever we want it, finding out more about something can often happen without ever looking away from our computer screens. Want to know more about a certain career? Just Google it. Read, read, and read some more. We could spend hours, days, even weeks doing this. While the information we uncover would undoubtedly be interesting and useful, nothing beats the in-person, real-life experience of talking to someone in your field of interest.

A Career Services event I attended in May is a testament to this fact. “Careers in Words,” was the first in a series of eight professional panels designed "to inspire students in a wide range of careers.” The series takes place anually in May. Other panels in 2014 focused on careers in corporate training programs, social services and non-profits, technical environmental fields, beer, fashion and business and art.

“Careers in Words” featured three panelists: Kim Gregory, senior staff writer at The Ventura County Star; Erik Davis, senior director of marketing & communications at Pacifica Graduate Institute; and Cognella Publishing Acquisitions Manager Rose Tawy. All three brought different perspectivs to the event and were willing to share their experiences and advice. Topics covered ranged from the best ways to prepare for working in the panelists’ fields to the rise of social media to whether or not having a personal blog is beneficial to getting hired.

I was blown away by the wealth of information they imparted and by the variety of questions audience members asked. Of particular interest were Gregory’s comments on what journalism means to her. "It may not be a great way to make a living, but it’s a great way to make a life,” she said, explaining that journalists “experience a great amount of depth.” She shared her feelings of thrill in not knowing what she was going to do each day, telling the audience how she had held a baby anteater at the Santa Barbara Zoo the day before. “It’s awesome,” and “I still love it,” she proclaimed. But Gregory’s praise didn’t stop there: “I can’t say enough for any career in writing. It enhances life like nothing else.” Photo of a woman on a bench by Darco

What Gregory said reminded me of something we discussed in my Creative Nonfiction English seminar last spring. Professor Kay Young had us read some of American author and journalist Gay Talese’s work, and we talked about how he strove to make his pieces “timeless rather than timely.” Echoing Talese’s approach to writing, Gregory said that “there are universal themes in every good story.”

Writing, like all ways of communicating with words, helps us get in touch with ourselves and with others. Words allow us to talk about issues that matter and enable us to share the stories and moments that make life worth living. Whether through a conversation with a friend, a book, or a tweet, communicating with others is essential to grasping the richness of life that Gregory and Talese both speak about.

About the author

Monica Illes graduated in spring 2014 with high honors in English and a minor in professional writing. While at UCSB, she was an L&S honors student and first-year student mentor, a CLAS writing tutor, and a member of the UCSB Running Club and Yeehaw!, UCSB's Country Dancing Club.