Interview with Jen Steiner
GC Graduation Year
Why or how did you choose your field? Were there specific experiences that influenced you?
I’ve been interested in communications, and writing in general, for as long as I can remember. Being involved in things like our school newspaper and yearbook in high school helped motivate me to choose communication as my major in college. While at Goshen College, I had the opportunity to be on the staff of The Record, as well as to participate in mPress (daily newspaper) at two of the Mennonite Church USA conventions.
What’s exciting about your job or field?
The most exciting part of my job is sharing people’s stories and finding ways to make personal connections between people. There is nothing more rewarding than hearing that a story I wrote caused someone to think about something in a new way, or to connect with a person from another culture or worldview. Our human experiences are so similar, but we allow the details and nuances that make us different get in the way of seeing our connectedness to another person. If my work can help one person connect to another person or be inspired by their story, that’s what gives me energy.
What has been a challenge in your career journey?
Looking for a job right out of college was overwhelming. What kind of job do I look for? Do I take a job just to have a job? Or hold out for a “dream” job? In the end, I’m glad I took an entry level administrative position that opened the door for the communications job I was looking for.
Looking back, would you do anything differently?
I may have taken more design and web classes. I took the basic classes that were a requirement for my major, but having more background knowledge would have helped in my current position, rather than having to figure things out as I go.
How did your liberal arts education assist you in your journey?
Going on SST to the Dominican Republic was a big part of my college experience. Even though it was only for three months, having the chance to live in another country and be immersed in their culture really opens up your worldview and is an asset in many kinds of work. I currently work for Mennonite Central Committee, which works in around 60 countries, so having a broader worldview and some international experience is valuable. In addition, SST helped build self-confidence and independence that I don’t know would have been built otherwise.
Did anyone offer you some memorable advice that you’d like to pass on? Or…what advice would you give to a young person just starting out?
I was unsure whether to accept the job that I was offered after college, because it wasn’t my “dream” job and wasn’t directly working in communications. But I liked MCC and believed in their mission, so I accepted the position. After working in an administrative assistant role for about seven months, the communications position within our office opened up, and I was able to move into my current position. It goes to show that even though your first job may not be your dream job, it can open doors to better opportunities in the future. I would encourage current students and recent graduates to go after jobs in organizations that you believe in, where you feel good about contributing to their mission.