Alumni in the Field

Ashley Bursey
STU Degree: BA '08
Major: Journalism and French
Job Title: Manager, Communications with the Office of the Ontario Ombudsman
Location: Toronto, ON

What are the duties and responsibilities of your work?
I manage a communications team at the Office of the Ontario Ombudsman in Toronto, Ontario. My office takes complaints about the Ontario provincial government and broader public sector organizations, like municipalities, universities, and school boards. My team is responsible for all public-facing material—from press releases to reports to our website to our digital channels. We're essentially an all-hands-on-deck marketing, PR, communications, and media relations team. Our office is unique in that we're very open to testing and trying new tools for public engagement, including digital tools like live chats, in-house videos, or webcasting, and we're very collaborative. I'm very lucky to work with a smart, savvy team from different backgrounds, like PR, journalism, and marketing.

How can students prepare themselves at STU to work in your field? (eg. volunteer work, internships, extra-curricular activities, specific courses)
During my time at STU, I did everything I could to work as a journalist, and ended up with cool summer jobs at a local radio station, an alt-weekly, and as a video journalist. I also wrote a pop culture column for the Telegraph-Journal, and stories for local newspapers. As a STU student, I was able to work very closely with the CBC during one-week internships, as well as pick the brains of my profs about everything from writing the perfect lede to composing the perfect interview shot, and I took advantage of that as much as I could.  During my time at STU, I also volunteered with Best Buddies and Frontier College, and found this to be hugely fulfilling.

I would suggest  students use every opportunity to learn, be it in the classroom or on their own time. If there's something you don't know, figure it out. Companies truly value people with the initiative and ability to fill their own knowledge gaps. Students would do well to dabble in everything, from digital analytics to social media to coding to writing briefs to taking free web courses about marketing. You'll get an incredible education and unparalleled learning opportunities at STU, but there simply isn't enough time in a day to take every single course, so supplement it with your own personal education and be prepared to know a bit of everything when you finally apply for your first job.

How has STU and your liberal arts education helped you in your career?
I meet people every day who attended universities where classes numbered in the hundreds, and the student population was tens of thousands. I consider myself extremely lucky to have attended a university where every single prof probably still knows my name and could remember specific projects I worked on. I think this hands-on, intimate approach to learning is invaluable, and the unique programs offered at STU are above and beyond, especially the opportunity to work and learn at the CBC and with some of the 'best in the biz' as I double-majored in journalism and French. Not only did I feel comfortable sharing my opinion and joining considered, intelligent debates about the work, I also felt like my education stretched me in non-traditional ways. It encouraged me to 'learn outside the box' and approach problems with a critical and analytical eye. It developed me as a leader and  it gave me opportunities to make my voice heard. I'm extremely proud to be a Tommie, and happy to use and flex the skills I developed at STU in my everyday work.

Brittany Arsenault
STU Degree: BA ‘13
Major: Communications
Job Title: Advertising Associate, Source Atlantic Ltd.
Location: Saint John, NB

What are the duties and responsibilities of your work?
At Source Atlantic I’m responsible for creating and executing marketing and advertising collateral. With 16 branches throughout Atlantic Canada, I organize corporate and branch branding, advertising, community support programs, event planning, project management, case studies, signage and other outward-facing marketing activities.

How can students prepare themselves to work in your field? (eg. volunteer work, internships, extra-curricular activities, specific courses)
Learn to love being busy, take on as much as you can, become a specialist in being extremely organized, and have the ability to prioritize everything.  Learn to write, and write well. In this field you need to juggle a lot. Employers love to see a well-rounded candidate—I was actively involved in athletics, student council, coaching, volunteering and had paid internships in the field each summer.  Meet as many people as you can and learn from their experiences.

How has STU and your liberal arts education helped you in your career?
STU gave me the flexibility to really shape my education.  There were so many opportunities to explore different options and experience different courses.  Don’t restrict yourself to the requirements, move outside of your comfort zone and learn something new.  STU class sizes often give you the room to share your opinion, so make sure you do.  At STU you learn how to think critically and be fast on your feet—you have no idea how beneficial that can be!  

Hannah Davies
STU Degree: BA' 13
Major: Communications and Psychology
Job Title: Marketing Officer, URec Recreation Services at UNB
Location: Fredericton, NB

What are the duties and responsibilities of your work?
I’m responsible for creating and implementing the overall marketing plan and strategy for URec, as well as the specific marketing tactics for each of the departments within URec—Fitness and Wellness, Recreation Sport, and Membership Services. This includes writing and editing the marketing communications content, managing the production of marketing materials, organizing contests and promotions, and running our social media accounts. Additionally, I am tasked with developing and managing sponsor relations. 

How can students prepare themselves at STU to work in your field? (eg. volunteer work, internships, extra-curricular activities, specific courses)
Students who are looking to work in marketing should take classes in Communications. A variety of electives can also be helpful. For example, classes in psychology may give you insight into how people think or process information, and in philosophy you may learn different ways to think and problem solve. I’d also recommend students begin or continue learning a second language, as bilingualism is a strong asset.

Outside of the classroom, students should embrace all the STU community has to offer. There are so many opportunities at your fingertips! Taking part in clubs, societies, and athletics allows you to work on leadership, collaboration, and social skills. My time captaining the rugby team, organizing events as part of the Student Athletic council, and volunteering with Best Buddies are some of my fondest memories. These experiential opportunities allowed me to find my passions and taught me skills that are not necessarily learned in the classroom. I was able to discover what I wanted to do professionally by having the opportunity to combine my passion and hobbies with my education.

How has STU and your liberal arts education helped you in your career?
Attending a small university allowed me to develop strong relationships with professors, coaches, and mentors that cared about my success. Their support pushed me to raise my personal and academic goals, which led me to pursue a Master’s degree in Scotland.

During my time at STU, I became a critical thinker and an effective, confident communicator. These skills benefited me as a grad student, and continue to benefit me as a young professional. Because liberal arts skills are so transferable, the education I received transcends job titles or categories. It allows me to be versatile in an ever-changing job market.

Jason Cassidy
STU Degree: BA '11
Major: Journalism and Political Science
Job Title: Senior Manager, Digital and Creative Marketing for Cara Operations
Location: Toronto, ON

What are the duties and responsibilities of your work?
I manage the digital marketing strategy for Canada's largest full-service restaurant company, Cara Operations. We own brands like Harvey's, Swiss Chalet, Montana's, Milestones, East Side Mario's and more. I oversee an in-house digital content team and manage the creation and publishing of all social media, email, website, display and search ads for the more than 600 restaurants.

How can students prepare themselves at STU to work in your field? (eg. volunteer work, internships, extra-curricular activities, specific courses)
The most successful people I know have excellent grades, are actively involved in extra-curricular activities and constantly prioritize working experience through internships and volunteering. I was on the Dean's List each year, played varsity hockey, and had an internship each summer. If you can manage that type of schedule while you're in university, the working world isn't all that daunting and you'll be set up for success. 

How has STU and your liberal arts education helped you in your career?
My degree from St. Thomas made me a well-rounded person that could transition into a variety of roles. I received a double major in journalism and political science, yet never actually went into journalism or politics—and that's okay. I've also never taken a formal marketing course and now work in marketing. The small classes at St. Thomas gave me the attention I needed, empowered me to think for myself, and conditioned me to be a leader. 

Nicola MacLeod
STU Degree: BA '14
Major: Journalism and Interdisciplinary Studies
Job Title: Marketing Coordinator with Remsoft
Location: Fredericton, NB

What are the duties and responsibilities of your work?
As the sole marketing person for a global software company with 200 clients worldwide, I'm responsible for promoting Remsoft, its values, and its products to the world. Much of this involves maintaining existing relationships, identifying new opportunities, supporting our dynamic team, and equipping them with the tools they need to do their jobs. I'm also responsible for the company's digital strategy, which is becoming more and more important in the global marketplace. I get to position Remsoft as a thought leader within the natural resources sector, which is a lot of fun! 
 
How can students prepare themselves at STU to work in your field? (eg. volunteer work, internships, extra-curricular activities, specific courses)
Get involved and do it early! Networking is one of the most important elements of working in entrepreneurship and community development. If there's an event you want to attend, GO! Be a self-starter. Introduce yourself to people and take in every opportunity that may interest you. Whether it’s on or off campus, seek out an organization that lines up with where you see yourself and find out about internships and volunteer opportunities. This shows passion, ambition and provides the opportunity to apply what you've been learning in your classes.
 
 
How has STU and your liberal arts education helped you in your career?
I've experienced first hand the value of having an arts degree in the business world. As someone who often works collaboratively with other individuals and organizations, I’ve seen how individuals with an arts education bring different ideas and perspectives from those with a business or engineering degree. It takes all types to properly bring strategic initiatives to life, but I’ve personally felt valued when often being the only arts degree around the table.

Thea Johnson
STU Degree: BA' 14
Major: Communications
Job Title: National Marketing Specialist at A.P. Reid Insurance Stores
Location: Halifax, NS

What are the duties and responsibilities of your work?
I hold the title of the National Marketing Specialist at A.P. Reid Insurance Stores. I manage the marketing for several brands under the A.P. Reid umbrella of companies, including ZipSure.ca, MyGroup Auto and Home Insurance, and Agile Underwriting Solutions. In this position, I play a leading role in the management and maintenance of the companies’ digital profiles. I am also responsible for planning and executing inbound and outbound marketing activities, and the analysis of marketing data, which encompasses campaign results, web traffic and conversion rates. Additionally, I provide support to the business development team in their prospecting efforts with the creation of marketing materials.

How can students prepare themselves at STU to work in your field? (eg. volunteer work, internships, extra-curricular activities, specific courses)
 Leading up to my first paid role, I participated in an internship as part of the communications program at STU. I also had the opportunity to develop skills in a yearlong volunteer role with a local non-profit (New Brunswick Community Harvest Gardens). My time in these roles, helped me to develop not only my skills, but my confidence. My advice for students wanting to work in this field is to find opportunities like the ones I had to practice your skills, whether it be in an internship or volunteer role. Take advantage of all the resources available to you as a STU student, both on and off campus, and supplement your courses with additional education online if you can. By gaining additional experience, and education, you set yourself apart from other candidates.

How has STU and your liberal arts education helped you in your career?
The small class sizes at STU meant I was able to develop connections with professors–established leaders in their fields. This has helped me tremendously. STU helped me to develop my communication and critical thinking skills. Through my education at STU, I’ve mastered the ability to excel under tight deadlines, multi-task, and adapt to situations quickly. These skills help me every single day in my role. I can say without a doubt that the skills I developed during my liberal arts education at STU provided a firm base for me to succeed in this field.