Digital Project Management & Communications

Tag: Career

Jillian Kuhn Warren has made multiple career changes to showcase her strengths and conquer new challenges. Follow her career news and new directions.

I’m Joining Duke Web Services

American Tobacco Campus

Tomorrow starts my last full work week as an employee of the state. Starting in September, I’m moving to the American Tobacco Campus in Durham (shown above) to join the Duke Web Services team as its Project and Client Relations Manager.

Duke Web Services is Duke University‘s internal web design and development group, and it falls under the Office of Information Technology. I’ll be working with a great team on web projects for clients across the university. It’s an exciting opportunity to move into full-time higher education web work!

Although I’m looking forward to my new position, it does bring an end to what has been a wonderful chapter of my life and career. For the past year and a half, I have been incredibly fortunate to work with some of the nicest folks in the state at the N.C. Administrative Office of the Courts. Together, we have done quality work and made great progress on key projects, and it has been my honor to serve the state’s Judicial Branch.

Digital Communications Project Manager

I’ve spent the past 15 months working at the N.C. Administrative Office of the Courts as an Information and Communications Specialist – but no more! That boring, straight-out-of-the-box job title hardly describes what I do for the organization. We just received word that HR has approved my title change: I am now the Digital Communications Project Manager.

Yes, it’s still a bit of a mouthful, but it gives a better picture of my job responsibilities and differentiates me from other Communications Office staff who have vastly different job descriptions. My primary job function is to project manage the redesigns of our websites, although I also do everything from newsletter editing to graphic design to public relations.

It’s nice to finally have a custom job title that really fits!

Early Jobs: How I Got My Start

Early jobs

You can tell a lot about people by the menial jobs they held early in their lives. Everybody has to start somewhere … And, this is where I started.

Jillian catches a softball

Catching a ball during my fastpitch softball career

Softball umpire: As soon as I was eligible (age 15, I believe), I signed up for umpire training for Elk Grove Girls Softball — my first real job other than babysitting! I’d been playing in the league since second grade, including a few years in its fastpitch travel program, so it seems I knew at an early age to pick a job I love! Calling balls and strikes for 8-year-old girls while being terrified of getting beaned with a flying bat wasn’t the easiest job, nor was getting screamed at by their hyper-competitive parents. But, I took my job seriously. I memorized the rulebook, was always on time (even if I had to ride my bicycle to the field in a rainstorm), wore the heavy equipment in the summer heat, and always tried my best. As far as first jobs go, it wasn’t a bad gig.

Movie theater cashier: I have always loved movies, and a friend recommended I apply to become his coworker at Classic Cinemas Elk Grove Theatre. I got the job and started as a cashier, which meant I did a little bit of everything! I manned the ticket sales booth, cleaned and stocked the concession stand, sold popcorn and drinks, tore tickets, swept empty theaters, scrubbed restrooms, and even voiced the recorded “moviefone” message each week. I learned a lot about customer service, integrity, teamwork, supervising and training coworkers, managing intense situations (i.e, an understaffed concession stand at 7pm on a Friday), hitting deadlines, and even manual labor. Plus, I watched many movies and ate free popcorn. I loved it.

Government procurement clerk: As my movie theater days wound down, I scored a great summer position with the Department of Justice: U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Northern District of Illinois. I ended up spending my summers and winter holidays there from 2001-2004. As a member of Office Services, I spent my first summer in the mailroom and supply room. I was the only clerk our manager trusted with hand-documenting the location of important case files in our storage rooms. I also processed FedEx packages, burned court case files to CDs, delivered supplies to attorneys, sat in on press conferences and trials, and did all number of odds and ends. After that, I moved into the Procurement Office, where my responsibilities included single-handedly documenting, reorganizing, and maintaining inventory and telephone records for our office of over 300 employees.

Video Vault DVDs

Video store associate: As a student at the University of Pennsylvania, I got involved with Video Vault, the video rental store run by Penn Student Agencies. As an associate, I was often the sole employee in the store during my shifts. I was responsible for managing rentals, returns, and purchases; serving customers; organizing inventory; and supervising the cash register. Eventually, I was given my own key and the honor of both opening and closing the store. Again, I love movies, so this was another natural fit.

From there, as they say, the rest is history! These may have been relatively simple jobs, but I learned a lot and developed a work ethic that continues to serve me well in my professional career.

What Do I Do at Work?

Columns on a courthouse

The number one question I receive about my “new” (4+ months now) job as an information and communications specialist is: what exactly do you do? Well, let me explain …

First of all, I work for the North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts (NCAOC), which is the administrative arm of the judicial branch of the state government. Here’s a very simplified sketch of it:

North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts chart

Simply put, the NCAOC provides administrative functions – including IT, HR, financial services, legal services, purchasing, and communications – for the entire Judicial Department. There are roughly 7,000 judicial branch employees statewide, including many elected officials.

The Communications Office of the NCAOC falls under the supervision of the NCAOC Director’s Office. We provide communications support to the entire Department – everything from press relations to publications to graphics support. We’re a small team, and I report directly to the Communications Director. My personal responsibilities include:

  • Websites: The NCAOC maintains an employees-only intranet and a public-facing website, both of which are extremely old and outdated. We’ve started the redesign process for the intranet, and I’m project managing the effort – organizing our internal teams, working with our third-party vendor, making decisions about the new site, planning content, and managing the eventual launch. Once the new sites are live, I’ll be the primary administrator. I am also charged with supervising updates to the existing sites for consistency, usability, style, etc. My supervisor calls me “the queen of the web.”
  • Newsletters: I oversee all NCAOC newsletters – doing everything from planning, reviewing, and editing content to setting up HTML and email templates.
  • Judicial Department Newsletter

    One of the N.C. Judicial Department’s email newsletters

  • Press relations: We’re the primary point of contact for the judicial branch, so we work directly with the media. We distribute public information and public records, write press releases, organize media events, and manage crises.
  • Publications: The Communications Office supports a variety of other publications, including our annual report. I do a lot of writing, editing, and styling of articles.
  • Branding: Our office is the guardian of the Judicial Department and NCAOC brands, having developed them and been responsible for maintaining brand standards statewide.
  • Graphics and images: We take photos and create graphics to support Department needs.
  • Personnel: Being a small department, we all pitch in to help with the hiring process. I’ve helped with job descriptions, candidate evaluations, interviewing, and hiring decisions.
  • All sorts of other odds and ends to support and improve communications across the Judicial Department.

That’s the overview of my day-to-day job responsibilities. Got any additional questions?

Career Update

I’ve been at the NCAOC for almost two months now, and the verdict is in… I love my new job and am incredibly happy I made this career change. I’m still doing quite a bit of web work and project management, but it’s all on internal projects. Plus, I’m doing a lot more writing, press, and broad communications work.

I definitely had some anxiety leading up to this transition, but I now know I made the right move!

A Career Crossroads


I’m hanging up my Web Project Manager hat.

Starting next week, I’m moving on to a new chapter of my professional life. I’m taking the brand new position of Communications Specialist for the North Carolina state sealNorth Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts in Raleigh. This position is more in-line with my long-term career goals and passions of writing, marketing, communication, and media — plus, I’ll help manage their web properties. I’m excited to start making a difference by joining the “family business” of judicial system employment.

It’s always a tough choice to leave a good job and make a career leap of faith — but I’m ready to follow my passions and steer my career in their direction. I’ve had a great run as a Web Project Manager, and it’s certainly bittersweet to be leaving it behind. I still plan on keeping up with the latest web trends and dabbling in web work whenever possible, though!

I really can’t speak highly enough of my colleagues and clients at Viget. I actually thought about naming this post, “Why I’m leaving a good career and a good job at a good company with good coworkers who do good work on good projects for good clients” — but that was too long, of course. If you’re interested, I definitely recommend you check out Viget’s careers page.

Wish me luck on my new venture!

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