Jessica Clark is the Bowness Community Association’s communications coordinator. Although she started out her academic career in science and aspired to be a physiotherapist, she realized that her passion was communications and giving back to her community.
I’ve always enjoyed writing and storytelling. In Grade 3, I would write short stories on an old typewriter I found in the attic. I would read the stories out loud for my classmates, and I enjoyed that they always asked for more chapters or sequels. I also used to write and perform in plays.
My undergraduate degree is in English Literature and Fine Arts. I took some creative non-fiction and essay classes in Victoria and started to interview people for their stories. When I graduated, I came back to Calgary and enrolled in the [now-defunct] post-degree journalism course at [Mount Royal University]. It introduced me to graphic design, photography and social media. I really enjoyed telling stories through these new mediums. I knew that if I wanted to be a working journalist I’d have to move somewhere very remote, so I explored my options in communications.
I was kind of all over the place. When I started, Mount Royal was a college and I was enrolled in a Bachelor of Science program. I wanted to be a physiotherapist because I always had an interest in physiology and how the body worked. I took some creative writing courses to boost my GPA and for interest. I met Richard Harrison and got into poetry and personal essays. I decided to stick with my strengths and switched majors to English Literature and creative writing. Richard wrote a letter of recommendation for me to [the University of Victoria] because their Fine Arts writing program was highly esteemed. I graduated, came back to Calgary and realized I’d need either a ‘trade’ or a master’s program for experience and to be employable. So, I enrolled in the post degree certificate.
I’ve always loved Mount Royal. It was between MRU and SAIT. I applied for both. I got a call from Terry Field at MRU and he told me what I could expect from the program and why I should take it. I was convinced. I also was drawn to the fact that it was only a year instead of SAIT’s which was two years.
I also had the opportunity to attend the India field school the first year it ran. Journalism, Public Relations and Information Design students went over with Social Work students to spend time at an Ashram, and for some classes at Mount Royal’s partner university, Lovely Professional University. This was my first taste of working with social workers, and now that I’m in the non-profit sector I continue to work alongside them.
[When] I had the opportunity to assume the communications coordinator position, over time I expanded the role’s responsibilities into a communications manager role. I also worked part-time assisting with communications at the Women’s Centre for about a year. And now I support the Bowness Community Association with their communications part time. I’m still also full time at HSCA. So, I’m busy. But I love what I do and who I work with so it doesn’t feel like work most of the time.
I love that there is a creative aspect to [my work] in terms of writing and [website design] and collateral. I love social media, so it’s also cool to go to events like Social West, The Post, Social School Workshops or Social Media Breakfasts to network and discuss strategy.
I’d say be open to a nonlinear path, and if you have time to do ‘side hustles,’ be open to that as well. I still do photoshoots for friends and family as well, or write for community papers. Anything that will keep your portfolio expanding and current is a good idea.
As told to Kaeliegh Allan. This interview has been edited and condensed.
This article is part of a series of profiles on industry professionals through the Calgary Journal. To see more like this, visit the On the Job page.
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