As I write this, it’s April 15, 2020. At 2 PM today in the Letterman lobby, an event was set to take place: The National Student Employment Week Award Ceremony. I would have attended with the student I nominated, Bruno Reinert, and I would have seen the look on his face when they announced that, not only is he the best student employee at Ball State, but also the best student employee in the state of Indiana.
Instead, I’m writing this because I want you to know why I nominated Bruno and why I think he deserved to win these awards. I’m also writing this because I hope that bragging about him on the internets (instead of in the Letterman lobby) might end up helping him get a great job that he loves doing.
Bruno as Navigator
I’m a professor of English, but I’m also a supervisor of a few student employees. They work as Content Marketing Interns for the College of Sciences and Humanities’ “Compass Initiative,” which serves the humanities departments at Ball State. Bruno has worked for CSH since August 2019.
If you follow the English or history departments on social media, read their blog posts or have gotten an alumni e-newsletter, if you’ve gone to (or just heard about) events like the Student History Conference or Stars to Steer By, or seen their posters around campus, then you’v e see their handiwork.
Actually, I had three interns this semester (Bruno, Ben Sapet, and Sally Knoop), also known as Navigators. Their job was to help humanities departments navigate through the murky waters of marketing and communications. They all did an amazing job, and I don’t want to diminish Ben and Sally’s accomplishments. Check out their LinkedIn profiles. They are amazing, too!
A few months ago, I got an email encouraging me to nominate a student for National Student Employment Week. And instead of writing my standard letter of recommendation, I was prompted to evaluate my nominee against eight core competencies put forth by the National Association of College and Employers (NACE):
- Digital Technology
- Critical Thinking
- Professionalism/Work Ethic
- Intercultural Fluency
- Career Management
I’d like to share a few of the things I wrote.
Bruno is a marketing major with an English major’s heart.
His training in marketing has helped my team learn how to make better data-informed decisions. He’s created spreadsheets for our weekly social media and blog audits that help us visualize our growth and set SMART goals. He remembers to gather this data without being reminded, spots the problems that arise, and he offers lots of ideas about how solve those problems.
A few months ago, he took it upon himself to re-design the English blog with a new theme in order to fix some of the usability problems we were having. I was so grateful, I didn’t even know how to thank him.
Let me tell you about how Bruno once politely called me on my lack of intercultural understanding.
Bruno was born in Chile and has also lived in Brazil and Mexico. He speaks English fluently now, but he’s never forgotten what it was like to live between cultures and not feel included.
A few months ago, we received a submission for our blog from a student that I felt was not well written enough to be published. Bruno patiently insisted that I wasn’t being quite fair to this student, who was trying to articulate her experience of being a second-language learner and how that inspired her to become an English teacher.
He and one of his team members worked with this student on the submission, and it eventually became one of our highest performing posts of the term.
I shudder to think how I almost rejected it.
Steve Jobs famously said:
“Technology alone is not enough. It’s technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields the results that make our hearts sing.”
I find it quite remarkable that an undergraduate student created a well-rounded education for himself by seeking out training from within the humanities. As he prepares himself to enter the job market, his resume and other application materials demonstrate that he’s synthesized both technical and humanistic knowledge in a way that will make him an absolutely ideal job candidate.
Most students seek out existing leadership opportunities, whereas Bruno has created one, working alongside me to build infrastructure where none previously existed.
We talk a lot in higher education about “silos.” What I’ve learned from Bruno is that the crisis in the humanities can’t be solved if I only listen to those in my own silo.
Bruno has done a great deal of important work at Ball State to “save the humanities” by helping me to work across units on campus. His particular kind of leadership is unique and exists outside the typical leadership roles one might find on a student’s resume.
By working with me, outside MCOB, he’s probably taken himself out of contention for opportunities and leadership positions there, and because he’s not an English major, I can’t recommend him for awards in my own department.
Thus, when I saw the Student Employee award notification, I knew I wanted to nominate him. It’s the only way I can think of to recognize him for all the leadership he’s undertaken.
Teamwork and Collaboration
Bruno is a great relationship builder and ruffled-feather smoother.
He understands that maintaining a blog or website isn’t just about knowing how to work inside WordPress. It’s about knowing how to work with people so that technology can achieve its ideal purpose of building a digital community–which can often lead to IRL community.
Bruno is natural at both the technical and human aspects of strategic communication.