This week, the WRD Alumni Spotlight features Allison Guntz. Allison graduated in 2015 with Bachelor’s degrees in Communication and Media and WRD. At DePaul, she worked as a tutor for the Office of Multicultural Student Success’s Study Jams program and was involved in University Ministry and the Office of Mission and Values. She is currently participating in a year of service program, through which she works for a food pantry in Chicago.
What have you been doing professionally since you earned your degree?
I graduated in June, and in August I began work for a year of service program in Chicago called Amate House. The program matches participants with jobs at non-profits around the city. This means that by day I am the pantry assistant at Lakeview Pantry, and by night I participate in Amate’s various personal and professional development activities.
What is a typical day “on the job” for you?
My days are probably split half and half between working at my desk and being up and active. I take care of administrative tasks like responding to calls or emails and managing volunteers. I also work a few hours a week in the development office writing grants. The other half of my job includes driving a van to pick up food donations, hauling and sorting it in the pantry, and serving clients directly during food distribution hours. I love the variety, and how tangible the results are: at the end of the day, I know all my different tasks led to this box of food I’m handing a client.
How did your education from DePaul influence what you’re doing now?
The most important thing is that my time at DePaul helped me cultivate an interest in service. If I hadn’t taken service learning classes or lived in the Vincent and Louise House, I never would have considered participating in Amate, which means I wouldn’t have gotten the chance to work at Lakeview Pantry.
I think that my WRD education might not have directly influenced what I am doing, but it has influenced how I approach the writing that I do. Specifically, I recognize now that it doesn’t have to be art. I write monthly reports, not poetry. That’s okay. Writing is a tool that I use, and it doesn’t have to be the craft that defines me. I believe that I would be less satisfied with my writing opportunities at work if I hadn’t had those discussions about what writing is in my Capstone class.
What were the most helpful courses you took in WRD?
As I mentioned, Capstone had a big impact in how I think about writing, but also in considering what my liberal arts education has prepared me to do. Style for Writers got me thinking about how the minute choices change the readability of a piece (which I put to good use just last week when I was editing for my supervisor). Finally, Genre and Discourse taught me to analyze pieces in order to imitate the important elements, which has been invaluable as I learn the different genres of my new workplace.
What advice would you give to a WRD student who would one day like to work in job like yours?
I’d tell anyone to find someone in the industry you’re interested in and ask questions. (The Career Center’s ASK Mentor program is great for this.) Don’t worry too much about whether you’ll get to write – pretty much every job out there involves some sort of writing.
If you’re interested in doing a year of service or working in a service-oriented non-profit, definitely start volunteering if you haven’t already. Figure out the causes that you’re passionate about – caring about what you do makes work far more enjoyable. I spend a lot of time doing data entry, which is super boring, but it helps to keep this food pantry running. That’s incredible.