Lauren Foley was the first person in her family to embark on a four-year degree. So when she left North Dakota for the U in 2017, “it was hard to ask my family for advice because they didn’t have the experience,” she says. “I really had to lean on CLA and my peers to understand what was going on, what to expect, and how to navigate it.”
Her First Year Experience course helped. Although she already knew that she wanted to work in publishing and editing, the RATE process pushed her to reflect on what she was learning and how it could translate into a career. “The core competencies offer a really unique and concise way to talk about the skills you’re getting,” she says, “especially when you move on to interviews later. They help you build a language for them.”
She joined Backpack, a student-run brand communications agency within CLA, which serves clients inside and outside the College with story-telling and public relations campaigns. Foley stayed with it through her senior year, and by then she was the agency’s editorial director.
Foley also joined the Minnesota Youth Story Squad, working with eighth-graders at Northeast Middle School in Minneapolis on their storytelling skills, helping “curate a space” in digital and social media “where their stories are not only being heard but being told,” she says. It was a clarifying time, as she debated whether to continue toward publishing or shift toward education.
“I care a lot about storytelling and how language connects people,” she says. “Classroom teaching goes about it in a different way and turned my head for a while.” Ultimately, she came back to publishing, but says it was important to swim in other waters for a while: “Now I can say for sure this is it.”
Foley was supported by a National Merit Scholarship and several CLA scholarships, including the Bentson-Niblick, Waller, Edelstein, and Stroud Scholarships. Needing to make ends meet, she says, could have precluded more valuable work. “My scholarships gave me that room to be able to choose career experiences like working at Backpack,” she says, “where, even if I was making money, the focus could be more on building career skills than having to fully support myself.”
After graduating this spring, Foley went to work as a full-time editorial intern with Lerner Publishing in Minneapolis, developing books for the school and library market. The liberal arts, she says, gave her “a clearer way to connect across diverse subjects.… It kept me from getting too narrow in my pursuits and only focusing on that one thing. There are so many doors that are open.”
Read about other alumni for whom the Career Readiness Initiative ensured the liberal arts advantage and turned learning into lifelong success.