Jillian Shkolnick is an Assistant Director at GUCI.
When I talk about my job, I usually get one of two responses. For anyone that has no history or affiliation with a summer camp, they tend to be confused and ask what I do when camp isn’t in session. For anyone that attended a summer camp or has children that did, the response is usually along the lines of “You’re living the dream.” I couldn’t agree more.
I grew up attending GUCI as a camper, then Avodahnik (GUCI’s CIT-equivalent program), counselor and unit head. Working at camp as a counselor and unit head was the best way to spend my college summers and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. However, I always assumed I could never actually have a career at camp and graduated with a dual degree in PR/Advertising and Communication.
A week after I finished finals, I started at a communications marketing agency (where, might I add, I referenced my camp experience during my interview process). I thought I had hit the jackpot – a great company, great colleagues, incredible clients, endless growth opportunities and the promise of travel. It was and is a great company, and I learned so much on top of getting to work with people, brands and companies that I admire.
In May of 2018, I attended GUCI’s Women’s Work Weekend, where we come together and help prepare camp for summer (it’s an amazing weekend – you can register for this year’s event here). I was there with my mom and she offhandedly mentioned to Rachel Waldorf, GUCI’s associate director, that GUCI should tap me for communications help. I laughed and reiterated that working for camp is always the dream job, but probably never going to happen.
After a personally challenging summer, I began seriously considering a change. One very influential person in my life suggested reaching out to camp, so I sent a note to GUCI’s leadership team. Fast forward a few months and there was a job posting for a new assistant director role at GUCI, with a focus on marketing and communication. When I received an offer following the interview process, I told Jeremy Klotz, GUCI’s director, that “I wanted in.”
All this to say, it’s one year in and I couldn’t be happier. Here are some takeaways:
- GUCI is more than just a summer camp. It is a place that impacts people for the rest of their lives.
- You can do what you studied or what you know AND find a job you are passionate about and that is fulfilling. While not everyone can work at camp, there are options available.
- As much as I wish I had started working for camp straight out of college, I am grateful for the experiences I had and relationships I made as they are essential to the work I am doing now.
- Trading business-casual for jeans and leggings sounds appealing, but there are days I miss the other half of my wardrobe.
- Letting go of corporate email lingo is not easy. I still regularly begin casual emails with “Per our discussion…”
Making both a career and lifestyle change has made me into a better version of myself. I am happier than ever, and constantly refer to my life as living in “lala land” (zero ties to the movie – unpopular opinion, I thought it was meh). That’s not to say there aren’t still challenges (there will always be) and I do miss my network in Chicago. But as I reflect on just over a year in Indy, and working on the GUCI full-time team, I know I made the right move.