Alumna uses career experience to give back to Grinnell students

Mar. 31, 2021 — When Clara Rice ’99 was first hired in 2008 at Jack Rouse Associates, a Cincinnati-based attraction design company, she was a project manager for a combination of a natural history museum and theme park about dinosaurs.

Unfortunately, her dinosaur project “went the way of the dinosaur.” But Rice’s career in the themed entertainment world is still going strong.

Clara Rice '99
    Clara Rice ’99

“To keep myself relevant, I leaned into my writing skills,” she says. “I started a blog for the company, which was something none of our competitors were doing. Granted, I had no formal training in media and communications, but that didn’t matter. Because my professors at Grinnell were so adamant about good writing skills, I had the confidence in knowing that I was a strong writer and could write my way out of any situation. It’s led me to where I am today.”

Rice is now the director of communications for Jack Rouse Associates. She recently participated in the Center for Careers, Life, and Service’s “Day in the Life: Grinnell Alums” series. This series is a collection of blogs, videos, panels, and podcasts that highlight Grinnell alumni careers and lives. In her video, Rice talks about her work in the themed entertainment industry.

A Virginia native, Rice originally learned about Grinnell College through her uncle, Joseph James Walka ’60; aunt, Anne Weiler Walka ’62; and her mom, Mary Anne. Rice visited Grinnell during high school and knew it was the school for her. She applied early decision and got accepted soon after.

When she was a student, the economics and theatre double major could often be found performing with the Grinnell Singers and in theatre shows. “I participated in at least one stage production per season,” she says.

For the past several years, Rice has given back to the College by mentoring students interested in communications and the themed entertainment industry.

“The most meaningful part about mentoring is hearing what happens after our meetings,” Rice says. “I enjoy speaking to my mentees and helping them learn more about the industry and find opportunities for internships and jobs, but what I really love is hearing them share their accomplishments. It makes me happy to see their latest LinkedIn job update or to hear them tell me they got the job. This is because I’m invested, and I want to celebrate with them in their success.”

Rachel Edwards Harvith ’00, director of the CLS Arts, Media, and Communications Career Community, says that Rice is one of her go-to alums.

“I like to tell students how they can use their creativity and skills to create a rewarding career in something they wouldn’t have guessed, and Clara’s career is a wonderful example,” Harvith says. “She started out in theatre management after receiving her MBA at the Yale School of Drama, and now she works in the themed entertainment industry doing communications. I know that if I have a student needing guidance about communications or the industry, I can count on Clara.”

Rice advises current and future Grinnellians to trust in the journey.

“Adapt to the changes you are given, and work hard,” she says. “Say yes to every opportunity, every single one. Even if it is something you have never done before, say yes — you can learn along the way. By saying yes you are opening doors for yourself, and soon you will build yourself up to the point where you can choose where to designate your time.”

—by Leila Payer ’21

For your information:

The Arts, Media, and Communications Career Community is one of the seven CLS Career Communities that provide specialized advising and programming as students focus and connect their values, strengths, and interests to particular post-graduate goals and ambitions.

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