May 23, 2018

Alumni Spotlight: Jordan Kawchuk BA'94 (Communications)

Arts alumni are an accomplished crew. They have great advice for students and fellow graduates, and know that arts degrees teach skills that are sought-after in the professional environment.

For over 20 years, Jordan Kawchuk BA’94 has been telling stories and producing content for media outlets and companies - from TV and radio production to comedy writing, podcasting, and digital platforms. He has worked with clients that include Slack, Discovery Network, NatGeo, CBC, MuchMusic, and various production houses around Canada. He is also a proud father of two daughters, performs amateur stand-up, plays sax, and loves to talk way too much about food. Kawchuk lives in Vancouver. 

What is your favourite University of Calgary memory?

There are so many - I loved my time at UCalgary. Classes with legendary improv teacher Keith Johnstone’s, which made me a better communicator. Walking in CJSW/Vox a shy and scared kid, and leaving with media experience, radio shows, and life-long friends. When broke, buying a plate of rice for a buck at the Japanese grill, covering it with soy sauce and having “lunch.’

What was your favourite campus hang out spot?

The Black Lounge, every Friday. Back then you could smoke inside, and we called it The Black Lung.

If you could give one piece of advice to a student completing the same degree that you did, what would it be?

Get practical experience - anything - to augment the theory. Both are important and complement each other. 

How has your career evolved?

My career has evolved from traditional media (TV news, CBC radio, show running and directing) to more innovating storytelling, like branded podcasts and innovative content marketing. It’s all story at the end of the day, just in a different pantsuit.

What is the best thing about your job?

Learning about and becoming a quick “pro” on topics I had never thought about. Over the years I’ve had to research and produce content on everything - astronauts, rollercoasters, salmon fishing, sex toys, tour bus life, and eating guinea pigs in Ecuador. Oh, and I once made Mariah Carey cry.

How did your arts degree help you get to where you are now/your current career?

It taught me how to really write. How to get ideas across economically and creatively - which I believe forms the basis of any career in or outside the arts. It opened my eyes to so many things outside my narrow pop culture young self.

Do you have advice for students looking to pursue a similar career path?

Don’t guess what they want and water your stuff down. Make your stuff how you would for your best friend or mom. Make ‘em laugh. Don’t be bland. Don’t have an ego. Collaborate. Nothing is precious.