By Makayla Miller, Sincerely, Southern staff
Thomas Jilk graduated from Georgia Southern in 2017 with a Bachelor of Science degree in multimedia journalism. He is currently a marketing communications assistant at the Illinois Holocaust Museum. Thomas also served as sports editor for The George-Anne, Georgia Southern’s student newspaper, for the entirety of 2017.
As a sports editor, Thomas oversaw a wide range of Georgia Southern sports and engaged in plenty of on-the-ground reporting. He believes this position provided him with amazing opportunities to hone his interviewing and journalistic writing skills. Thomas thinks that students should take advantage of The George-Anne Media Group and all that it has to offer.
“The George-Anne is a perfect launchpad for young journalists to figure out what kind of reporting they enjoy and to enhance their skill set within the realm of Georgia Southern’s campus,” Thomas said.
While a student, Thomas landed a public relations internship after meeting the communications director of the Georgia Historical Society at a communication arts career fair. Using the experience he gained at the GHS, he was able to convince the Illinois Holocaust Museum to hire him. He currently leads their public relations and social media strategy efforts.
Although Thomas works in PR and marketing, he says he has been able to employ some of the skills he learned at The George-Anne and in his journalism classes. Thomas said that two professors in the journalism division had the biggest impact on his writing: Jennifer Kowalewski and Reed Smith.
He said Kowalewski’s first-draft grading system could only be described as realistically harsh but understandable in the long-run.
“While her original grades seem harsh at times, I think they end up helping a lot of students understand what it takes to write a story worthy of publication,” Jilk said.
Thomas views Reed Smith’s approach to journalism and teaching as serious and old-school. He said it forced him to improve his work ethic and learn how to avoid procrastination. Reed Smith’s “Audio for Journalists” class was one of Thomas’ favorites.
“As an NPR-listening geek, learning how to produce a quality audio story was both fascinating and rewarding for me,” Thomas said.
So, what’s next for Thomas in his career? Right now at the Museum, he says he’s learning as much as he can about the media industry, and he wants to continue to do that moving forward. He eventually wants to earn his master’s degree in marketing at the University of Illinois in Chicago so he can further explore the marketing field and decide which niche he enjoys the most.