Name: Katie Woodzick
College & Majors/Minors: Theatre/Dance Major, Minors in English and French
Current Location: Whidbey Island, Washington
Current Form of Employment: External Relations Manager
Where do you work and what is your current position?
I work for Hedgebrook, which is a non-profit retreat for women writers. We have six cottages on 48 acres and award writers fully-funded residencies of 2-6 weeks in addition to offering professional development programs and public readings. I serve the organization as one of two External Relations Managers. We manage marketing, fundraising and communications campaigns. My favorite aspect of my job is managing our social media networks and analyzing data. I can totally geek out on identifying trends in data and using them to better communicate our programs and mission.
Tell us about how you found your first job, and how you found your current job (if different).
My first job was a work study placement working janitorial in my college's Biology wing. It was terrifying to clean the labs alone at 6 AM being watched by glass cases filled with stuffed animals. Luckily, I transferred into the Interlibrary Loan Department halfway through my first semester.
I found my current job through strategically choosing my practicum placement for graduate school. I studied for a year in Seattle University's MFA in Arts Leadership program. Each quarter, we were required to set up a 3-5 hour a week practicum with a local arts organization. I chose Hedgebrook and after two quarters, it led to a part-time position as a Development Associate, which later led to a promotion to External Relations Manager.
What was another job that was important in your career?
I toured with a children's theatre production of Jack and the Beanstalk for a summer. There were two actors and a bunch of set pieces and costumes in the back of our pickup truck. We traveled to a different town each week and taught the show to up to 100 kids. It was a magnificent opportunity to hone both my interpersonal and leadership skills.
What did you do in college to prepare for your post-grad life?
Honestly, I didn't do that much. I mainly focused on my acting, directing and writing, while enjoying the social aspects of college. I participated in a general audition which landed me the Jack and the Beanstalk gig. After that I didn't know what to do with my life, so I applied to a dozen different AmeriCorps placements all over the country. Whidbey Island was the first place to offer me a position. I drove from Minnesota to Washington state in two days. I think that AmeriCorps is a great program with which you can ease into post-graduate life. It allowed me to try out working with non-profit organizations, which I now love. And there are so many different kinds of programs! I highly recommend AmeriCorps.
What is your advice for students and graduates with an English degree?
Don't let anyone tell you that your degree is impractical. I was asked many times: "So, what are you going to do with a theatre degree?"
What is impractical is to study subjects for which you have no passion. Writing is an incredibly valuable skill that will serve you well in many professions. In this digital age, we have lost the essence of thoughtful communication. We need people who take the time to study literature, reflect on it and attempt to draw meaning from it.
Don't be afraid of applying for positions if you don't have every single qualification listed on the job posting. Use your killer writing skills to write around any gaps in your work experience. Plus, the first thing any future employer is likely to read is your cover letter. Give yourself permission to wow them with an unforgettable first impression on the page.
Also, never stop writing. Whether it's keeping a personal journal, submitting to contests and publications, or attending a local poetry slam, it's imperative that you keep writing. You never know the impact of what you write and put out into the world. It has the potential to inspire, enlighten, and possibly even save a life.