Student stories

History grad lands a job at the Sail and Life Training Society

Meghan Kort

1. What program did you pursue at UVic and when did you graduate?

I did my MA in History under the supervision of Dr. Sara Beam. My thesis was titled “The Girls Who Spoke for God: Vocation and Discernment in Seventeenth-Century France”

I defended in August 2016 and graduated that fall

2. What skills and knowledge did you develop through your program?

I honed the research, writing, and critical thinking skills I had gained in my undergrad. The main benefit I gained from doing a MA was experience working on a sustained independent research project. I was responsible for developing insightful research questions, outlining a research strategy, connecting with archives to gather sources, analyzing materials, and writing a convincing narrative based on the results. At each stage of this process I had to manage my time and set realistic goals. Now when I approach a large scale project at work, I know I have the experience to break it down into components and I am confident that I will be able to complete it successfully. 

3. What was your favourite part of your time at UVic?

I loved the interdisciplinary collaboration facilitated at UVic, I worked with profs from the French department and the Art History department along with those in my own History department over the course of my research. The Early Modern Research Collective, a group of scholars in my field from across the humanities welcomed me into their meetings and really modeled the importance and power of interdisciplinary work. 

4. Did you take part in any hands-on learning programs or opportunities like co-op, internships, practica or field schools?

No, I was enrolled in co-op but didn’t end up doing a work term, since it didn’t quite fit my goals.

5. How did Career Services help you make the move from student to graduate?

Michelle was incredible and a huge part of the reason I got the job I wanted. I was working as a receptionist on campus at the time (November 2017) and I was really enjoying the communications aspects of the job (social media, event promotion, etc.) So I booked an appointment with Michelle hoping to get some general help figuring out how to get into a communications career. By the time our appointment came around, I actually had found a job posting that I wanted—Communications Coordinator for a local charity, SALTS (Sail and Life Training Society). Michelle helped me figure out how to align my experience and skills with the job description. At that point, my main problem was that I still felt like a student, so the tone I used in my resume reflected my uncertainty and inexperience. Michelle convinced me that I am a communications professional and should be confident in the experience I have. So she helped me turn my resume from a summer student resume into a serious communications resume. She offered to make time in her busy schedule to meet for a mock interview if SALTS asked for an interview. When I got the interview request, I was thrilled and Michelle made sure I was prepared by staying late one day after a long day of work and running through questions. To be honest, my mock interview with Michelle was way harder than my actual interview with SALTS. She was so thorough and made sure I spoke to every point of the job description.

Having done two degrees in humanities, I think I had internalized a lot of the comments and criticism about bad job prospects for humanities grads compared to those in the sciences and technology. Michelle didn’t let me believe those lies for a second. From the moment I walked into her office, she declared the value of writing, research, and communication so confidently that I had no choice but to believe that my skills really are relevant and in demand. Humanities students need more of that positivity.

6. What would you want UVic students to know about Career Services?

I had been graduated for a whole year by the time I walked into Michelle’s office. It’s never too late to seek career help. If you are a UVic alum you have access to UVic’s career support FOR FREE. This sort of coaching could cost a lot in the public market. Also Michelle was prepared to help at whatever level I needed, she was ready to do a general coaching and planning session with me, but quickly jumped to resume reviewing and interview prep when the process ended up going faster than I expected.

7. What's next? What are you up to now and what impact do you hope to make through your career?

Since the start of 2018, I have been working as the Communication Coordinator for SALTS (Sail and Life Training Society). This incredible organization has a heart for youth mentorship through sail training on traditional tall ships. The organization is over 40 years old and has an amazing legacy here in Victoria. I constantly hear from people that their sailing trip(s) with SALTS changed their life, gave them confidence, and introduced them to the beauty of genuine community.  In light of that positivity, my job is pretty delightful. I promote the sailing programs, manage social media, plan public relations events, curate web content, and support the day-to-day running of the organization. I’ve already had the opportunity to learn a lot, including attending social media seminars and marketing workshops. It turns out I didn’t need a degree in marketing or communications to get a communications job, my employer saw the value in my writing and critical thinking skills and has supported my efforts to keep learning more specialized job skills. 

I hope that my work at SALTS will help the organization maintain and grow our connections with current and potential supporters. I want our social media channels to feel like a community so that parents feel confident sending their children to our sailing programs, donors can trust that their funds are being spent wisely, and past participants can continue to look back fondly at their SALTS experience. Social media doesn’t need to be a negative space, as a communications professional, I see it as a tool for sharing beauty, affirming individuality, and celebrating together. I think it’s important that the people managing social media and online spaces have open minds and the ability to consider an issue from multiple perspectives, this is exactly what a history degree is all about. 

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