Students like to think the path from college to career is going to be logical and straight. After a pleasantly hectic four years, you will be approached by a friendly CEO who is simply overwhelmed by your qualifications and charm. A job offer follows, and it is time to walk off into the shining rays of the setting sun. But in the real world, it just never happens that way.
Kevin Viol, a 2003 Central graduate, has learned that reality rarely follows fantasy. But life is all the more fulfilling when it moves past childhood dreams.
During his final semester as a Central student, the Wisconsin native participated in Central’s Chicago Semester. He lived and studied in the city while interning with a casting agency. After settling in Chicago following graduation, a friend helped him find a job at Old Town School of Folk Music, a Chicago institution providing community workshops, classes and lessons in the arts. Despite his background in theatre, Viol started as a customer service representative. There, he helps pair community members with classes that match their interests.
“It’s really rewarding because I have the opportunity to get people involved in the arts,” says Viol, who is now a customer service manager. Recently, a 77-year-old man called the school. Despite having no experience with music, he wanted to sign up for piano lessons. “I get the chance to do something good with the community,” Viol says.
When Viol was a student playing Shakespeare’s Fabian and conspiring against Malvolio in “Twelfth Night,” a customer service position seemed farfetched. Would a theatre major even qualify him for that job?
“You just need a natural curiosity,” Viol says. “Organizations are always looking for artistic people who can speak the language.” Because he knew theatre, Old Town School knew Viol could help customers who called with questions about their theatre programming.
Through his job at Old Town School, Viol serves the arts in a way he may not have imagined in college, and it is fulfilling work. Plus, he finds other ways to be directly involved in the arts.
Outside his 9-to-5, Viol is heavily involved with the Chicago theatre and art scene. He is a member of the Shattered Globe Theatre Company, performing two to three shows with the group each year. He is also a photographer, videographer, musician and university lecturer, and he is heavily involved in film.
In 2009, he produced and starred in his first short film, titled At Last, Okemah! The project led to his next endeavor: the film Pause and Breathe. He wrote the screenplay and will take on the roles of director, actor, producer, promoter, camera operator, composer and musician.
In order to handle the responsibilities of each position, Viol has remained a student long past graduation. “I know that I can have an intelligent conversation with anybody on set,” he says. That helps him gain a base of knowledge covering all aspects of his work.
“It’s all about quality control,” he says. “I want to know what is going to make the best final product. I like the investigation that goes into learning how to do that.”