McDowell to share storytelling expertise in assisting professionals

Kate McDowell
Kate McDowell, Associate Professor

Associate Professor Kate McDowell will present her research on storytelling at two upcoming conferences, the Midwest Association of Colleges and Employers (ACE) Annual Conference, which will be held July 23-25 in Rosemont, Illinois, and the National Storytelling Summit, which will be held July 25-28 in Kansas City, Missouri.

At the Midwest ACE conference, McDowell and Jerome Ng, career and a Gallup-certified strengths coach at Illinois, will conduct the workshop, "'Tell Me About Yourself': Communicating Your Strengths Through Storytelling." They will discuss how professionals can identify their individual strengths and use storytelling concepts to build narratives around those strengths. According to McDowell, research has shown that audience members recall stories better than facts and that story structure enhances memory and improves content recall. Through this workshop, participants will learn how to structure and remember their own stories and become comfortable coaching students/employees on forming and telling their stories.

McDowell will present the interactive workshop, "Storytelling Your Career," at the National Storytelling Summit, where she will teach participants how to use storytelling practices to help communicate their goals and capabilities to potential employers. She developed this workshop in storytelling courses and in collaborations with the College of Business and the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES). After conducting more than thirty interviews, McDowell found "storytelling has emerged as a key tool in career success, especially in major career transitions, when it becomes important to integrate previous accomplishments with new aspirations."

McDowell has been teaching storytelling since 2007, helping graduate professional students explore how their stories can help them succeed. She is also the storytelling consultant to campus-level Office of Advancement at the University of Illinois. Her workshops for nonprofits bring together the tools of storytelling with many areas, including fundraising, career preparation, business, and public service.  Her current research project is Storytelling at Work, and she is writing a book called Storytelling Thinking for Professionals

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