Wanted: Job with meaning

Beth Monahan has done her time in the corporate world, handling internal and external communications for major companies, including Aon Corp., Cigna Corp. and Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co.

But she wants something different now. Laid off for a year, she yearns to use her photography and writing skills for what matters to her. “What I want to do now – now that I’ve had time to gaze at my navel and think it through – is to use my communication skills in a field that matches my beliefs,” she said.

Beth Monahan

“I’ve written about all different things, but they’ve never been tied to my passions as a human being and a person.”

Her dream job would involve working in animal advocacy or in something related to vegetarianism, farming or women’s health. Monahan came close to the perfect job, among the final three candidates, for an organization called “Farm Sanctuary,” a group that tries to educate the public about the downsides of industrial farming. “I was really excited about that job,” Monahan said wistfully. “It was custom-made for me.”

These days, as she looks for a job, Monahan serves on the boards of Philadelphia Animal Care and Control, and also Citizens for a No-Kill Philadelphia. Part of her expertise involves messaging for these groups. She tried to foster rescue animals, “but I’m what you call a foster-failure,” said Monahan, who lives in Philadelphia’s Mt. Airy section. “I get them home and end up falling in love with them. That’s good for those dogs, but it stops the process, because you can’t take in any more dogs.”

Her current crop of four dogs includes two beagles as well as Gracie, a puppy who was found in a house just before it was demolished, and Judy, a German shepherd and former junkyard guard dog who turned out to be too gentle for the job. “I have a soft spot for animals,” Monahan said. 

Among her corporate stints, her first job, for Goodyear, was the most fun. It involved hosting politicians and reporters on blimp rides. “It’s surprisingly slow,” she said. She met George Bush, the father, when he was a vice president, and also actor Dennis Quade. Another fun part of the job? Hanging out at the race track with Nascar drivers showing off their Goodyear tires.

As she advanced in her work, the tasks became more complicated. At both Cigna and Aon, she became responsible for all the communications for two start-up ventures, both involving the integration of various company services and products. At Aon, she developed marketing tools, including a slide library, catalog of services and industry backgrounders that led to a doubling of sales each year the group was in existence.

“Companies get restless,” she said. “They try new things and then they move on. There were a lot of start-ups and changes all the time. That’s what made it interesting as a communicator. There was always something new to talk about.”

In her last five years at Aon, Monahan served as an assistant vice president and editor and publisher of all communications and marketing materials for its 6,300 employee consulting business. She launched a series of microsites on human resource topics in response to the economic downturn, producing content for Aon’s internal blog, plus internal and external websites. She also crafted speeches for senior leaders and executives, capturing the individual voice of each speaker.

While she was proud of her work at Aon, she grew weary of the constant layoffs. “There were layoffs every year and sometimes twice a year,” she said. “You always knew your turn was coming and you lived in constant fear.”

A year ago, it was her turn.

 “I was there for 10 years and there was salary creep and age creep,” she said. “The long-term corporate employee has become a thing of the past. I’m proud I lasted as long as I did.”

Update: As of December 2011, Monahan is doing odd jobs while looking for work. She recently received the following rejection letter from a corporate employer: "We genuinely appreciate you taking the time to apply online. Unfortunately, due to anunusually high volume of applicants for this position, we were not able to review your application before filling the position."

  • Beth Monahan
  • Hometown: Philadelphia.
  • Profession: Communications executive
  • Experience: Writer and photographer who launched websites, devised corporate communications, ghost-wrote speeches, built sales materials and marketing tools and placed stories in the media.
  • Education: University of Missouri, bachelor's degree in journalism. George Mason University, graduate course work.
  • E-mail address: Bmona21@verizon.net
  • Beth Monahan's resume
  • Beth Monahan's Linkedin profile


Read past profiles in the Looking for Work series. The series runs here on Fridays.

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The Inquirer is not endorsing this individual as a job candidate; potential employers should do their own background checks.

Contact staff writer Jane M. Von Bergen at 215-854-2769 or jvonbergen@phillynews.com.