Julie (Staszko) Gilmor

Julie (Staszko) Gilmor

June 29, 2021

Julie (Staszko) Gilmor (2021)

Julie Gilmor was a 2017 Truman graduate.  3 days after graduation, she started my first job.  A year later, she married her high school sweetheart who (fun fact!) was Truman’s 2016 Finance Student of the Year (bulldog love!).  Julie resides in Parkville, MO (basically KC) where her and her husband just bought a house for their two corgis.  In her freetime, Julie enjoys triathlon training, book clubs, and cooking.

What year did you graduate and what was your concentration?

I graduated in 2017 with a Public Communication concentration.  I have a minor in Photography.

Julie (fr. center) and the rest of the graduating class of the Nu chapter of ΛΠΗ (2017).

What extra-/co-curricular activities did you do?

Like most Truman students, my calendar was always full and every week was different!  I am a proud Sigma Kappa alumna, where I served as a Membership and Social Chair.  Greek Life also had a private organization, Order of Omega, which recognizes individuals “who have exemplified high standards in the areas of scholarship, leadership, involvement within their respective organization and within the Greek community, campus, and local community.” I served as a member and Vice President of Lambda Pi Eta, the Communication Honor Fraternity.  I also enjoyed my time as the Publicity Director of Detours Magazine.

What was your first job after graduation?

My first job after graduation was as an Opportunity Coordinator with Girl Scouts.  I largely helped launch their new registration website.  I was promoted to a Brand Strategist where I wrote blogs, acted as a content manager for social media and helped plan and take photos of council events.

What work do you do/What are you doing now?

I am a Marketing Manager for Swell Spark, an entertainment company that owns and operates Blade & Timber Axe Throwing and Breakout/Get Out escape rooms nation-wide.  I am currently working on creating a brand book / voice guide for our newest entertainment concept, Sinkers Lounge.  I champion our brands’ social media, content calendar, digital and in-store promotions/events, SEO, and advertising work.  I just had the opportunity to work with Sporting Kansas City, our MLS team, to create an escape room for them! It’s an incredibly fun job!

How has your Liberal Arts/COMM education helped you?

I found in talking with friends at other colleges, that a Truman degree was rigorous and holds weight when applying for jobs.  I was encouraged by professors, fellow students and advisors to have my hands in lots of baskets, so to speak.  Taking a variety of general classes early on helped me find my photography minor, and allowed me to funnel into the public communication concentration.  It gave me the opportunity to explore a vast number of careers; I could go into a communication research career, journalism or broadcasting avenue, land in a marketing/PR world or beyond.  Upper-level communication courses taught me how to apply foundational knowledge into a simulated “work-life” “adulting” career.  It was invaluable.

Julie and her corgis (2021).

Which class did you dislike at the time you took it, but now you’re grateful you took it?

Organizational Communication!  This class covers theory, psychology, and application for how companies, businesses and organizations structure themselves and communicate.  It’s common to hear recent grads complain that they found it hard to directly apply their degree once they actually started working.  I found this class to be a practical “4-1-1” of how the company you work for communicates.  It also helped steer me away from companies that didn’t fit my ideal job structure.

I was also a debate kid in high school, and trust me, public speaking is SO IMPORTANT.  You need to know how to pitch ideas to your boss, clients and co-workers.  It will help you gain confidence you need when defending your work!

What was your greatest accomplishment at Truman?

Getting my internship with Parris Communications!  Kansas City is a relatively small market for PR/Marketing/Advertising.  Parris Communications is one of just a handful of PR firms in the area, and they only accepted one intern per summer.  I was getting ready to take my last final for the semester when I received the email that I was selected and there was no better feeling in the world!  When all of your hard work pays off, that feeling is priceless.

Why is Truman a good place for a student to study?

The professors, class sizes, competitive peers around you…. Truman has an atmosphere like no other!  Your professors truly become your friends.  Get to know them and use their life experiences as a launch point.  They are the best of the best.  The class sizes helped make courses feel less intimidating and more intimate. I had the opportunity to ask any question I wanted during class, set up meetings when I was needing help, and got to know my classmates well enough to form study groups.  Truman students are the most dedicated students I know. I often found myself inspired by my classmates that always went for the gold.

Julie after graduation with Drs. Yaquinto (L) and Self (R) (2017).

What would you say a COMM student should absolutely do while at Truman?

Get a commuter pass if you live off campus (LOL. I don’t miss the hill to Barnett)!

In all seriousness, get involved.  This is your time to have FUN in a way that is so unique to undergrad life.  Find your network of like-minded people to keep you on track.

Julie training for a triathalon (2020).

What advice would you give someone who wants to go into the same line of work as you?

Never be afraid to branch out and add minors that interest you!   Looking back, adding a photography minor is one of the best things I did for myself.  It taught me an extremely valuable skill that landed me jobs.  Learning the Adobe suite and being able to market myself as a photographer gave me a leg-up against other young applicants.  Find a niche that not a lot of other students are committed to and go for it. I promise you won’t regret it!

What do you miss most about campus/Kirksville?

Being able to walk to my friend’s dorms or houses within minutes.  Pre-cooked dining hall food.  Mid-day naps.  It’s the last bit of freedom and less responsibility before full-blown “adulting” that I miss the most!

What tag line would you create for the COMM department at Truman?

“Where creativity meets function.”

Communication majors are dreamers, creative souls and fun people!  Communication takes that raw creative passion and applies it to real-world careers.

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?

Julie at graduation (2017).

Content Creation – as a marketing manager, this was the biggest learning curve I had as I entered a manager-level role.  I’d love to teach a class encouraging students to pick a company and run their content strategy (social, emails, ads) and how to turn it into a campaign.  Honestly, I want to take that class!  Side-note: I would love any excuse to go back to Kirksville, I’d guest lecture anytime!

What did we not ask that you think is important for people to know?

Time flies, you blink and all of the sudden a semester of courses is over.  Some courses you take will define most of your career so take them seriously because it might be the only time in your life you have to fully invest in learning these skills and theories!

If you would like to learn more of Julie’s story, or you want to learn more about the Department of Communication, contact us!