The Union has over fifty full-time employees, each of which has a story. Not a lot of Union staff is featured in content directed towards students, but they are the ones who support, fight for, and work to grant plentiful opportunities to every student on campus. One in particular is the Union’s Associate Director, Steve Meehin.
Despite his long tenure working for UNT, Steve Meehin spent the first 27 years of his life in Long Beach–a town just off the south shore of Long Island.
“It was a really fun place, steps away from the beach, always a lot of kids around, a lot of fun stuff to do,” Meehin said. “It was a tight-knit community, and it was always a kind of badge of honor because it was unlike anything else on Long Island so we were always a little prideful city. Yeah, I miss it a lot, that’s probably one of the things I do miss about being in Texas.”
Every great marketing director gets their start somewhere, and for Meehin that was at Lawrence Beach Club. For two summers, Meehin worked as a “beach boy” carrying the chairs and umbrellas of club guests to the shore for setup. While Meehin was not as coordinated as Mike Love and Brian Wilson, he held the job long enough until he was able to work at the video store.
Meehin always held a passion for television and film, even choosing to study the industry at Saint John’s University. As soon as he was out of college Meehin worked for as a teleprompter operator for a crewing company at MTV studios in Times Square. The studio was where MTV did their news updates, filmed TRL, and broadcasted the New Year’s Eve specials.
“I never really got star struck even though there were a lot of people walking around,” he said. “Being a drummer my whole life and growing up with Nirvana, Dave Grohl was kind of a big deal. We were doing this 24 hours of Foo Fighters special and I was new at the job and gung-ho, so I volunteered for as many hours as I could. I did the first and last shift, and it didn’t make sense for me to go all the way home on the train just to come back in a few hours, so I slept in an empty conference room. All of a sudden, I hear “wake up!” I look up and it’s Dave Grohl standing above me, and I was out of it and didn’t really have a chance to react, but before I had the chance to respond he was already walking away.”
As big an impact working in the television world had on Meehin, his biggest takeaway was realizing the industry wasn’t for him. However, working with a team of people each functioning independently on jobs that collaboratively intersected together, he was able to see firsthand the value of teamwork and communication.
After MTV, Meehin worked for Showtime where he received his first exposure to marketing rebranding a channel. In 2011 when his wife got a job opportunity to move to Texas, the young couple excitedly made their way south.
“We relocated and I actually applied to go to grad school first here, and was working on my GMAT prep when we moved,” he said. “The tv/film opportunities weren’t as plentiful in this area, they were still around I just wasn’t having any luck. Choosing to relocate states in the middle of the recession was not a good idea in hindsight. So, I applied to go to grad school because I figured I needed to reshift my career anyway and decided to enroll in the MBA program here. I wanted to capitalize on the experience I had with the exposure to marketing. Just by luck, a position opened up to do videography for the Union.”
The position played into Meehin’s skills and previous background, and soon he was moved from marketing videographer to an assistant director role. As he continued to grow in the position and the responsibilities increased, Meehin was promoted to associate director.
“My day-to-day responsibilities are project management and communicating with the staff to make sure my full time and student staff have the resources they need to do their job well,” he said. “Also, to give general oversight to our long-term plans and make sure they are in line with university goals and departmental goals. And kind of set the tone for the creative process and what we do, and all the other stuff that goes with leadership and management.”
Due to the nature of creative environments, there are plenty of days where Meehin will plan everything out only to have it shot to hell by 10 am. Between brainstorming sessions and the energy of the creative team, there are many times where an idea will get ran with and everything else for the day has to be reallocated.
“When we did the Walking Dead spoof forever ago it was a funny video we did for our web series where we were trying to educate the campus community about the food court moving out of the Union to a temporary location,” he said. “We were just playing with the idea that a lot of students may have missed the note or tweet about it, so we came up with this idea that people who didn’t get that memo became zombies stranded in the empty abandoned Union because they couldn’t find any food and it just became this Walking Dead parody.”
“We bought some good fake blood and theatrical makeup. That’s always good; going to buy those things and putting it on my report of materials that I have to buy,” he said. “It’s like pens, office supplies, fake blood, wigs–yeah, it’s always a fun time. But we did some kind of guerilla marketing where we wrote the name of the episode in blood on the wall, and did some handprints and made it look really gory and Halloween-y. And then there were construction crews moving in and people moving stuff out of the office that had no idea what we were doing, and just saw this blood on the wall and I think they were terrified. They were signing the cross and things and we had to explain to them that it wasn’t real and for a video we were doing and apologize. That was a weird moment, but one of my favorite ones I think.”
Meehin is consistently placed in unusual situations for his job. Anything from participating in YouTube videos, modeling for Instagram, or constructing hot wheels tracks around his building is all just a part of the job. Despite all that Meehin went through to find the Union job, including moving states in the process, he never expected this to be a permanent change in his career.
“I’ve been here for going on eight years now and I didn’t know when I started that this would be a full-blown career change,” he said. “I really thought I would just work here for a couple years, get my degree, and kind of move on. But it really did turn into a full-blown career change. There’s that old cliché adage, you know, oh if I could go back and do it all differently I’d do this. And in a weird way it’s kind of a chance for me to do college again, but in a much different way. But it’s just fun to be on a college campus again. I really enjoy working with the student staff, giving them these opportunities to shine, and giving them wonderful experiences to take with them when they move onto their future careers and leave us. And I think that has been the most rewarding thing ever, and I never imagined I would have such a rewarding job.”
Meehin is reminded of the student staff and the impact they had on him every time he enters his office. Every piece of artwork was created by a past student employee and serves as reminders of the people who have come into Meehin’s life.
“It’s kind of this weird, hybrid combination of different things and interests,” he said. “I have some formal recognition rewards I’ve received, both from here at the university and professional organizations. But then I also have awards my students have given me, like my very own dundie trophy, some mugs and things like that. Those are the things I love the most in here, just the things I’ve been given as gifts and thank you’s.”
In addition to the student gifts and artwork, Meehin’s office is decorated with pictures of his wife and daughter which serve as his own inspiration and a reminder of why he comes into work every day. “The picture of my wife was the first thing I had on my desk when I started a long time ago,” he said.
Meehin’s office is self-described as quiet, nostalgic, and cozy. Despite the vast amounts of pictures, art, trinkets, and figurines, there is not a single object which Meehin can call his favorite.
“I don’t think I have a favorite thing. I think my favorite thing is just the collection itself. Again, they’re reminders of people who have come and gone. I’m reminded of the impact I had on them, and they had on me.”