Name: Amanda Rinker
College & Majors/Minors: B.A. in English, Writing Concentration from Clarion University of Pennsylvania
Current Location: San Antonio, Texas
Current Form of Employment: Content Manager at OVC Lawyer Marketing
Where do you work and what is your current position?
I currently work at OVC, INC. (aka OVC Lawyer Marketing) which is a website development company based out of Chicago, Illinois. We provide website design, Search Engine Optimization, social media, website content, blogs, and more for attorneys located throughout the U.S. At OVC, I am the Content Manager. I mostly handle the assigning and editing of website content and blogs, but I also help out with the web operations duties of maintaining legal directory listings for our clients, creating and updating mobile websites, updating websites, and the upkeep of Google Places listings. Really, I wear many different hats at OVC but my passion is the content. It is a big responsibility to keeping content and blog schedules on track, as well as handling client turnaround on projects, but my passion for editing makes all of the pressure worth it. I love being able to take something a writer compiled, research the latest SEO techniques to implement, and conform the writing to make a client successful and happy.
I was introduced to the owner of OVC, Greg Wildman, back in 2011 through my first freelance job after college. I worked for (then Online Video Concepts, LLC) here and there for two years, adding content and updates to attorney websites. In 2013, I gained a bigger role with the company, and this year I became its first employee. With the 2014 massive growth of OVC, we hired on three more full time employees and even more contract writers and web developers. OVC, INC. has a bright future and I plan on helping to carry the torch.
Tell us about how you found your first job, and how you found your current job (if different).
My first job was for a multi-faith prayer website (weird, right?). After college, I started dating my now husband of four years so I was determined to find a work-from-home job. He was in the Army and we'd likely be moving around every two to three years. So I cruised Craigslist ads for three months after graduation before I came upon the interesting ad. I sent an email with my short post-graduation resume and received a response from the Chicago-based website. After a Skype interview, I was hired and worked for the website for about a year as a freelance editor eventually managing a team of writers and editing their content for publication and email newsletters. Through this amazing opportunity, I learned HTML, the content management system Joomla, Wordpress, how to publish eBooks, and really just how to be a professional in a virtual setting. I will be forever grateful for this first opportunity I had.
Nowadays, especially when you telecommute to work, employers are looking for writers and editors with a broad range of skills. You can't just be able to write anymore; you have to know some HTML, have worked in the "back end" of websites, know the latest SEO techniques, have experience with social media, and more. Not only do you have to have talent, but you must also be willing to learn how to market yourself. This involves keeping your own online portfolio and making sure it's up to date. For example, my website www.amandarinker.com is not as current as it could be, but now that I have a full time employee position I can afford to let it linger until I need it. However, when I'm in the market for new freelance opportunities, I always make sure to have the most recent articles I've written, live links to social media I've helped manage, etc. Not only should the resume be recent, but having my own hand-built portfolio website also shows my budding web development skills.
What was another writing-related job that was important in your career?
My job after the prayer site was for a digital art magazine/news website. This job taught me the importance of being an asset to a business. For example, I would take calls or push out relevant news stories for our website on nights and weekends. I was the link of broadcasting the latest art, fashion, or book news to our viewers. It was great for learning responsibility and my value as a worker. This editing position also taught me more about interviewing. I would interview innovative creators of art and learn what made them tick, or what their inspirations were. It helped me connect with people even if it was over a computer or on the phone. It can make you stir crazy working in an empty office at home, so this provided some human interaction. Finally, this freelance job gave me more insight on publishing for eReaders like Kindle, Nook and iPad. There are so many different aspects that go into publishing that readers don't think about, such as each eReader must be created in it's own file format. They all don't read the same file and make it look pretty on the screen. That was probably the hardest thing to deal with when publishing the quarterly eMagazine.
I also freelanced for a publisher that released different science-related journals. Specifically, I worked on an academic physics journal. Let me say, it's very interesting to edit around scientific terms and theories that you don't understand. However, I made it work somehow. As a copy editor you pick up inserting that "blank" noun or verb over a term you don't know. Though, I am proud to say that when I see stories about the Large Hadron Collider in the news I jump for joy because I've been editing works about it. Most notably, this job taught me how to work with the Chicago Manual of Style (whereas I was familiar with MLA style in college) and how to use different editing software for journals.
What did you do in college to prepare for your post-grad life?
During my senior year of college, I was involved in the English Department's "BaZaar Magazine," a student publication with articles and reviews written on music, movies, and travel sites. But, my main involvement that shaped my career was my in English Club and Sigma Tau Delta (English Honors Society) from sophomore to senior year. My senior year, I was the President of the English Club and Vice President of our Sigma Tau Delta chapter. Attending STD (yes, it's a great acronym) conferences in different cities, submitting my writing and meeting book authors was the best experience I had in college. I have signed books from Alexandra Fuller, Michael Perry, and Neil Gaiman that I will treasure forever, as well as the memories of hearing them speak about their careers. Not only did these organizations look good on my resume, but they enriched my life and future career with expanding my own writing, learning from others, and gaining relationships with my peers.
The other major thing I did to prepare for post-college life ("real life" as I call it) was nab an internship at a small Pittsburgh publishing house. This helped me get my hands on manuscripts, allowed me to contribute my own book reviews to their blog, and showed me the ins and outs of a real company. Though I did intern tasks like maintain the stockroom, mail out book orders, and get everyone lunch, I learned valuable editing and business skills from the editors and book designers.
What is your advice for students and graduates with an English degree?
One concrete statement that I can give to English students and graduates is what I mentioned before: Be more than just a writer or editor. Know your craft but also know what will make you successful. Market yourself with the abilities you should have in today's digital age. Also, be willing to take less money if you want to get your foot in the door. I started off making $8/hour (now near minimum wage) with my first gig. But, I worked hard and made my way up to $10/hr in only a few months, and so on. Today a lot of people, especially in my generation, think they deserve more right out of college, so that's why they might not be working in the field they enjoy. It takes sacrifice and working over 40 hours a week to get somewhere. I'm not saying you may not be worth a higher salary, but to get somewhere you have to start from the bottom and fight your way to the top.