Name: Melissa Kravitz
College & Majors/Minors: Creative Writing, Concentration in Fiction at Columbia University and Modern Jewish Studies at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America
Current Location: New York, NY
Current Form of Employment: Freelance Writer
Where do you work and what is your current position?
I work at coffee shops. I work for local papers and national websites including Bustle, Brokelyn, Brooklyn Paper, Thrillist, and many more. (See left hand column for examples and links to Melissa's work online.)
Tell us about how you found your first job, and how you found your current job.
By my junior year in college, I was running my own publication, Inside New York. It was a ton of fun but also a huge amount of work. When I graduated, I decided that I wanted to spend more time writing rather than on the management and business side of things. I wrote to editors at publications I liked, bragged about my accomplishments, and begged for assignments. It worked, sometimes. I'm constantly finding new jobs through my network of media professionals and writers, and I've learned to be a bit pushy in offering my writing talents. Have a business card, even if you're not part of a business. It helps.
What was another writing-related job that was important in your career?
Almost all of my writing has been freelance. I worked as a content creator at a well-known web brand and hated it! Everything was about key words and click-bait and offered no room for creativity. I like to express myself through writing and hopefully produce something that helps, if not entertains, other people. SEO is my enemy.
Though my dream career is writing fiction all day, I know that's not financially feasible, but I also know that I can still be creative and write meaningful pieces without compromising my mind or my values.
What did you do in college to prepare for your post-grad life?
As I mentioned earlier, I ran a publication, which had both print and digital content and became my best friend/roommate for approximately 700 days of my life. Between working and sometimes studying, my extracurricular was sleeping occasionally. I also read a ton of books for my writing classes and always challenged myself with sociology and philosophy classes, which I believe contribute to my way of seeing the world and reporting what I see.
What is your advice for students and graduates with an English degree?
Remember why you chose your major! And don't say it was to make a fortune, because you should have transferred to engineering school. You may not know what you're doing after graduation or even a few years out, but you'll figure it out. Plus, you always have books to keep you company. I love reading memoirs by young writers, like And the Heart Says Whatever by Emily Gould, Wild by Cheryl Strayed, and Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling to encourage me that success is possible, even if I don't know what the hell I'm really doing with my life.