Warning: I am knowingly and willingly burying the lede here. It’s my blog and I’ll adopt a more narrative structure if I want to. If Buzzfeed has turned you into an “I need the news now!” person, jump to the bold section a few paragraphs in but know that you’re breaking my long-form loving heart as you do.
It was 10 years ago this year that I came to a crossroads in my career and started down the path that most of you know me from. I was a few years out of my undergrad days but I’d meandered a bit, working in media and communications but always only with one foot in the track. I went back to school in 2004-05 with a half-baked plan to go into teachers’ college – convinced I might enjoy that career more than a career in comms – but Ottawa U didn’t want me and I didn’t have a plan B.
So I jumped in with both feet and a career in comms I forged; one I have enjoyed and continue to enjoy immensely (rest assured, despite this dramatic build up, I am not leaving my day job in comms any time soon). But the idea of teaching never entirely left my head. I’ve been lucky to find many different ways to scratch that particular itch: coaching minor hockey in my 20s; leading workshops and training sessions for clients in my time at nonlinear and for colleagues at events run by IABC and ALI, to name just a few.
A little more than three and a half years ago I also hooked up with Algonquin College’s Centre for Continuing and Online Learning, where I’ve been lucky enough to teach online courses in social media and digital analytics as well as get some experience on the administrative side of the education world as a program coordinator.
But through it all, I’ve never had the chance to lecture and teach a class in a physical classroom, on a campus, with students I get to see face-to-face and work with directly.
I’m pleased to inform you all that this summer I’ll be teaching the Communications and Social Marketing course in the Communications Studies program at Carleton University.
This is obviously a big honour for me and I owe it all to Josh Greenberg, the Director of the School of Journalism and Communication, as well as a confluence of events that made them need to reach outside their usual circles to find an instructor. As someone with only an undergrad degree, I’m not necessarily expecting this to turn into a regular gig but fortunately Josh knows me and my career well enough to know that I can draw on relevant experience in social marketing and change management theory in a way that will make the course informative for the students.
It’s also a big honour because Carleton is my alma mater. While I graduated with a degree from the other side of the program (journalism), there was always crossover between journalism and communication students and faculty and I hold the Communications Studies program in very high regard. It truly is flattering to be asked to stand shoulder to shoulder with some of the amazing professors at the school, even if only for a short time.
Lastly, the appointment takes on a special significance given the recent passing of my father in law. Joe Scanlon is a former director of the school and in listening to many of the kind reflections of former colleagues and students over the past few weeks, it’s clear that while his name is forever linked with the journalism program, he was a keen and passionate advocate for the communications program too. The summer 2015 term is the first term in which he won’t be listed as an emeritus professor at the school and while I won’t claim to ever be able to fill his shoes, it feels like something more than serendipity that I have a chance to honour his legacy by teaching in the program he championed so enthusiastically so soon after his passing.
It’s not the beginning of a new chapter in my life – I remain quite content both in my career in comms and my day job at ACFO – but it does feel like the fulfilment of a goal I’d almost given up on. I’ll likely never be Professor Joseph Boughner but it’s pretty sweet that I’ll get to be Joe Boughner, Contract Instructor in the School of Journalism and Communication, even for a summer.
Thanks Carleton. The education of your students is your task eternal and it’s pretty flattering to be asked to contribute to that legacy.