Cailin RileyMay 18, 2021
Originally from the St. Louis, MO area, Cailin has studied and worked throughout the Midwest. After graduating from Truman State, she attended graduate school at the University of Georgia to study public relations. (Go Dawgs!) Soon after, she returned to her home state to work for the media relations department at Mizzou. Now, she lives and works in Manhattan, KS for K-State University Libraries, where she enjoys working in a castle-like library, managing social media, and writing press releases. In her free time, she likes to mountain bike, read thrillers and horseback ride. She is also working on a book!
What year did you graduate and what was your concentration?
What extra-/co-curricular activities did you do?
Really, I put a lot of time into Tau Lambda Sigma, a service sorority.
Did you go to grad school? If so, where? Was it immediately after you left Truman or did you wait? Why?
Yes. I went to the University of Georgia to study public relations right after graduating Truman. I was excited to continue my education and with no other job lined up, I decided it was good timing to continue my studies.
What was your first job after graduation?
My first full time job was Convergence Media Manager at the University of Missouri-Columbia. My job was a mix of media relations, social media management, and multimedia creation, including videos and managing a weekly audio segment.
What work do you do/What are you doing now?
Now, I am the main writer/editor for K-State Libraries. My job mainly consists of writing press releases and announcements regarding Libraries news, creating and managing social media content, and writing/editing blog, website, and magazine content. I absolutely love working for the Libraries and a big part of my job is building connections with students, community members, and other academic libraries.
How has your Liberal Arts/COMM education helped you?
As most people in the communications & marketing field know, most jobs in this field require you to be a jack of all trades, or wear many hats. My liberal arts education and especially my studies in Truman’s COMM program, taught me a variety of skills and encouraged me to think critically about developing a solid ‘wheel house’ of abilities. Flexibility is key in this field–you have to be open to things turning on a dime and you have to come to the table with options. Having a diverse set of skills not only makes you more successful, but it also makes you a strong job candidate within the field!
Which class did you dislike at the time you took it, but now you’re grateful you took it?
Oh, Public Speaking, 100%. I hated it at the time, since I was fairly shy. Yet, as an adult in a leadership position, I’ve had many situations where I’ve been required to give a presentation to a large group. Taking that class was a good start to building that self confidence. Best tip I learned that still holds true to this day: Don’t be afraid to take long pauses to take a breath. It might sound long to you, but it won’t to the audience, trust me.
What was your greatest accomplishment at Truman?
While COMM was my road to the future, I also majored in English, for the love of it. I had the opportunity of presenting an American literature project at the National Conference of Undergraduate Research in 2015. It showed me that it is possible to tie in research with your passions.
Why is Truman a good place for a student to study?
The faculty at Truman really care about students and their futures. A Truman education gives you a strong start–you really learn a variety of skills that will serve you later in your career. Going into the workforce after college can be a bit scary, but I’ve found it less daunting because I am prepared.
What would you say a COMM student should absolutely do while at Truman?
Find your community, whether it’s a Greek organization or a volunteer organization, etc. You will make friends in your program, but Kirksville is a great place to get involved and learn more about contributing to a community.
What advice would you give someone who wants to go into the same line of work as you?
Develop a thick skin and learn to take your ego out of the equation. I’m the type of person who puts my soul into my writing and when a piece comes back bleeding red, it feels like somebody has called your baby ugly. I’ve since learned that you have to pass over your personal pride to make something the best it can be. Similarly, you’re going to make mistakes. You’re going to post a meme that somebody will complain about. That’s just how this field works–you can’t please everybody and you’ll always be learning. Chalk it up to experience and move ahead.
What do you miss most about campus/Kirksville?
Not so much a specific place, but the feeling of a very tight community that supports students. Campus, to me, always felt like a very safe space to run around, explore, and get involved. Kirksville has a lot of hidden gems for people to explore; I really miss Thousand Hills and the Adair County animal shelter, which I volunteered at a lot.
What tag line would you create for the COMM department at Truman?
“The possibilities are endless.”
I don’t think people realize how many fields/directions a degree in COMM can offer! (Editor’s note: We agree. Thanks for helping us explain what the options look like!)
If you could come back to Truman and teach a class for a semester, what would be its title and what would it be about?
Dank memes 101: Navigating the new social terrain. The class would go over navigating and identifying social media trends, how to go about doing so, and weighing the pros and cons of participating in these trends. Would also go over what to do when you make a mistake on social media or you try to participate in a trend and it backfires.
What did we not ask that you think is important for people to know?
You get out what you put in! Don’t be afraid to ask questions and find creative ways to implement your passions into class projects. Also, there’s going to be a LOT of group work.
If you would like to learn more of Cailin’s story, you can follow her on Twitter, Instagram, or LinkedIn.