Interview with Trent Alumni Affairs Communications Coordinator: Donald Fraser

Hi Public texts comrades!

As we move into the second reading week of the year (it’s February already?!) those of us that are in the MRP or Internship stream of the program need to start thinking about what we intend to do after graduation, especially if our career aspirations are outside the realm of academia. In order to give you all some inspiration for your upcoming job hunt, I spoke to Trent Alumni Affairs communications coordinator Donald Fraser about how public texts work in the professional world.

What are your responsibilities as communications coordinator?

“I’m in the process of creating a new platform for alumni communications. This will include a magazine style site with fresh daily content – made up of news, events, archival material, a blog, and a podcast. The site will also include access to alumni services, such as transcripts and library services. I make sure to guide alumni to these resources through social media. Outside of Trent, I operate a writing and communications consulting business, where I help people communicate effectively through social media and create communications plans for traditional communications as well as digital media.”

How did you find the communications position? What was your academic journey to get here?

“I stumbled into communications through writing for a non-profit organization around the time of the digital revolution. It’s really a natural extension for the writer to move into the digital realm. I was a student in Trent’s English Literature department, and as a writer, I understand how communication needs a narrative hook to it. It’s a feature of storytelling that we learn from the oral tradition. Online communications becomes much more effective when we use elements of traditional storytelling in our digital media.”

What have you learned about the public by working with social media?

“Although you’re a storyteller online, it’s a two way dialogue. The only way effective communication is going to happen is if you listen and are collaborative with your audience. Social media is like going to a party, if you’re only talking about yourself, no one is going to talk to you. The ones who succeed are the ones who have learned the art of conversation and listening. We are not abandoning the story by listening to our audiences; we stay with the same themes and characters – and the same goals – but at the same time allow others to add to this narrative. Be open to communication, listen, respond, and make sure others are heard. Be a person you would enjoy having a conversation with.”

What advice can you offer to Public Texts students who are looking to find jobs in the professional world rather than academia?

“Make sure to be yourself. Authenticity is key. Learn the tools that are up to date right now, which means delving into the metrics of what you’re doing to stay current. Find out who your audiences are: why they’re listening to you, who’s not listening, and who else is talking about similar issues. Make sure you’re tweeting to and about the movers and shakers in your field – use them as a means to piggyback messaging. There’s a lot out there and it’s changing all the time. Learn when best to use social media – mid-afternoon, for example, when people are starting to get tired at work and are turning to their Facebook and Twitter accounts – and time your social media to publish accordingly. Follow the trends of what is happening and realize there are going to be different demographics in your audiences. Be careful about what you’re messaging.   For instance, don’t be that person that complains constantly on social media – it’s a sure-fire way to lose the respect of your peers. Lastly, volunteer! Practice your craft and build your experience.”

Keep your eyes peeled for the new Trent alumni site – in the meantime, you can follow them on Facebook (Trent University Alumni Association) and Twitter @TrentAlumni. Also, don’t forget to check back in to the Public Texts blog for more career information and ideas.

About dontpanictrent

DON'T PANIC: A Trent Graduate Student Blog

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