Mark Carter (BA 2011, MA 2012)
Can you tell me a bit about your position with the Sudbury Film Festival?
Since September 2012, I’ve worked with the Cinéfest Sudbury International Film Festival, one of the 5 major film festivals in Canada, as Marketing & Partnerships Coordinator. About 75% of my work was grant writing, but I also put in a lot of hours organizing events and arranging guests for the film festival in September and a comedy festival in April. I got to pick up Cheech and Chong from the airport. I also got involved with a lot of community arts groups in Sudbury, and helped put together a presentation asking for increased municipal arts spending from City Council.
How long did it take you to find that job after graduating? What do you think made you a good candidate?
I was really lucky, I interviewed for the job about a week after submitting my thesis (I didn't even know if I’d passed yet), went to Boston for a week's vacation, and came back to learn I was moving to Sudbury. I didn’t really know it at the time, but I've since learned exactly how important grant writing is to any not-for-profit, charity, and arts organization (hint: it's really, really important, and somewhere there is an arts group that really needs your help).
You're returning to Waterloo. Can you say a bit about your new position?
While I totally loved my job at Cinéfest, I’m a southern Ontario kind of guy at heart–with the help of a lot of luck and a bit of fortuitous networking, I was recently offered a permanent position as Development Coordinator at THEMUSEUM in Kitchener. While I’m sticking around in Sudbury for a few more weeks in anticipation of the upcoming 25th Anniversary Festival (September 14th-22nd–can I plug it?), I do know that my new job will also have its roots firmly planted in NFP management and finances;and, of course, grant writing.
At Waterloo we always see co-op students on their way to interviews. What is the effect of having been surrounded by that culture when you actually start interviewing?
I was actually a co-op dropout when I decided I wanted to do an M.A., I got impatient and didn't want to spend an extra year finishing my first degree. That said, I was already used to interviewing for part-time and summer jobs; whether it was writing for web sites, tutoring at Centennial College in Scarborough for the summer, or putting up drywall. To be honest and I think a lot of students in the English department might agree; the co-op culture at Waterloo always seemed a little out of reach, like it was just another perk for engineers-to-be. I definitely know other English grads who made the co-op system work for them, but I waited to acclimate myself to the professional world after school was done. To be honest, I still don&'t think I’m there–I’ve only worked with arts and culture groups, which are kind of their own world.
I'm intrigued by the interview uniform; people here seem to have. Does that matter as much in the positions you have interviewed for, do you think?
I think I’ve managed to get away with a lot, interviewing primarily in the arts and culture sector. Jeans, a flannel shirt, and a beard can be as much of a uniform as a suit and tie for someone in my position. I’ve also interviewed for writing gigs with startups and found the same thing–I’ve definitely been interviewed by a few executives in shorts and t-shirts. At the same time, I’ve had my share of meetings with corporate and government funders, so I haven’t totally forgotten how to tie a half-Windsor.
What's the first thing you'll do once you're back?
This profile was originally published on August 2013.