Loyola University Chicago

School of Communication


On the Homefront

On the Homefront


August 20, 2020 

Claire O’Malley

Degree/Major: Major in Advertising/PR, on Advertising track, Double Majoring in French
Year of Graduation: 2021
Hometown: Milwaukee, WI

It’s been a rough year. How are you and your family doing?

We’re doing better than we expected to. Two of my three siblings are here at home, with my mom who is thankfully able to work from home. My siblings and I have been just trying to pass the time together and not go out too much. My sister is also a college student. We’ve had very different reactions to being home and being away from friends and things. My sister was a freshman this past year, she really missed out on the real freshman experience.

How are you making the most of this summer?

It was complicated at first, because like every other college student, my internships fell through. Thankfully, I have a mom who works in advertising and marketing, and she posted on her Facebook, calling to her past colleagues and co-workers, asking if anything might be available. And I ended up with two amazing internships from it! I feel really lucky because I know a lot of people don’t have that privilege.

How are things in your hometown?

In my area, there have been protests against wearing masks, and against stay-at-home orders. The stay at home orders were cancelled because of our state legislators. My family and friends have been really safe about it though. But it is worrying to me that cases are surging in Wisconsin. More than half of the deaths of Covid-19 have been people of color. It doesn’t seem that bad in my community, but other people are far more vulnerable. There have been new requirements for masks in public places though, which I think is a great step, because I really do not want Wisconsin to become another Florida. My sister works at a country club in Milwaukee with hundreds of people not wearing masks. My twin brother is training to be a Milwaukee firefighter and he’s training in ambulances right now, and he’s possibly exposed to people who are sick right, so that is worrying.

Did you have to leave your study abroad in France as the pandemic progressed?

I took 18 credits of French history, language, religion, lots of things. I was in Nantes, on the west coast. Not many locals speak English which was great. I went with IES Abroad, one of the [study abroad] providers. This past semester, there were six of us from Loyola University Chicago on that trip. I took a class in consumer behavior and consumption and I’m really excited to use that in my advertising classes this coming semester. It was really cool to take a class in my major in another language. Other students were talking about American consumption, and I got to tell them I’m actually from Chicago. Obviously, we’re such a materialistic country, though. We’re so interested in money and power. The professor would ask, how do Americans view sexism in product ads? A lot of the European students held this view of Americans as extremely materialistic, and honestly, they’re not wrong.

Do you think that experience, even abbreviated, will be helpful in your future?

I want to go into international business. I’m taking a class called French for Professions this fall too. I think that will help me learn all the lingo that I’ll need to succeed in a French business environment in the future. I’m going to ask my professor a lot of specific questions about advertising.

Can you tell me about the internships you were able to secure, even though your original plans fell through?

One of them is with my church that I’ve been going to my whole life. They really needed someone to create and develop all of their social media platforms. My pastor, who actually baptized me, said they needed me to beef up everything online. They didn’t want the congregation to get too distant from the church, since they couldn’t hold in-person services. I had to figure out the wants and needs of about 3,000 people who go to this church. I’ve had to use what I’ve learned at Loyola and it has been so rewarding, especially because it’s an organization that I care about.

I’ve been helping develop various web series for the children in the congregation, so that they still get their Sunday school lessons. We have outside speakers that have come in, and I’ve also been using Instagram and Facebook too. For a lot of people, going to church is just a Sunday morning commitment. Your engagement declines throughout the week. So I can’t give them that Sunday morning ritual, but I can find some other way to give them something virtual but sustained. I want to give people an experience that feels equivalent to what they get on Sunday morning. I want to give them that spiritual aspect. I have to find other ways to get people the satisfaction in their faith, when a lot of people aren’t looking for it in other ways.

How about your other internship?

It also includes something really important to me. Milwaukee is known as a really eco-friendly city, people are pretty big hippies here. I’ve been promoting the city’s Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District. They have all these massive initiatives to reduce the amount of runoff into Lake Michigan. We’re installing infrastructure in people’s homes to help minimize leaks in their basements, help reduce water runoff. It helps with the city’s budgets, and it helps Lake Michigan. Every time there’s a massive storm in Milwaukee, millions of gallons of dirty water go from people’s basements into the Lake. By installing free infrastructure to fix this, the city actually saves money in the long run and it keeps the lake cleaner. We install rain barrels in people’s gardens, and they can paint them, and it becomes cute free advertising for the program. People will ask them, what’s that barrel doing in your backyard?

How do you feel about returning to campus this fall?

I’ll be moving into my first apartment in about two weeks actually. All of my classes are online, so it will be 19 credits this semester. I was worried about it being a lot but with some good organization it will be a good way to make the most of this semester. A lot of students like myself are worried about getting our money’s worth out of this semester.

I think many students, myself included, are worried about whether online classes are worth the time and money. I personally have decided that I’m still going to enroll this semester, but I’m going to take more classes than usual, so it feels like a semester well-spent.

Do you think we’ll learn anything from this crisis?

It may be pretty cliché, but I think we’re learning to be grateful for what we have, and to be more present with ourselves. We have such a strong ideology of always grinding, hustling, and it’s so hard to slow down and be at peace with ourselves. We need to stop worrying about our productivity. I think my generation, and the millennial generation, is constantly worrying about their debt. It’s a great lesson to slow down and realize that those things will be there tomorrow, but right now, all I have is my safety and my happiness.

Interview by Genevieve Buthod. Edited and condensed for clarity. 

Past interviews:

   Abby Schnable - St. Louis, Missouri
   Jennifer Wright - Acampo, California
   Coco Sharp - Chicago, Illinois
   Lauren Pirritano - Chicago, Illinois (Alumni Edition)
   Dan Collazo - Chicago, Illlinois
   Morgan Ciocca - Kansas City, Kansas
   Layla Chavez - Indianapolis, Indiana
   Andie Cuevas - Milwaukee, Wisconsin
    Boe Chmil - Chicago, Illinois
   Minh Ha (Millie) Le - Hanoi, Vietnam
   Ava Francesca Battocchio - Duluth, Minnesota
   Alexandra Ditoro - Alabaster, Alabama
   Gabriel Paredes-Reyes - Omaha, Nebraska