Name: Michelle Greco
College & Majors/Minors: English major/Writing minor; Masters in Poetry
Current Location: Boonton, NJ
Current Form of Employment/Job Title: Adjunct Professor and Freelance Copy Editor
Where do you work and what is your current position?
I currently have my hand in a few pots. I teach English composition, literature, and research writing at Montclair State University and Bloomfield College. I also freelance copyedit for a few companies.
Tell us about how you found your first job, and how you found your current job.
Right out of college, I applied for many jobs in the publishing field, such as Editorial Assistant, but the callbacks weren't exactly rolling in. I worked at my local library at the time, and they had a vacancy for a Children's Room Assistant. I applied and, to my delight, got the job! I learned quite a bit there, particularly in terms of conducting research and cultivating curiosity.
I found both of my adjunct jobs through colleagues who informed me of openings at schools they already worked in. Moral of the story? Get to know your colleagues and stay connected. You just never know when an opportunity will pop up.
What was another writing-related job that was important in your career?
That would have to be my first freelance copyediting gig. I was working at an office at the time and knew I wanted to branch out, so I decided to do something about my situation. I figured if I couldn't get work in the competitive publishing world, I could copyedit. Nothing popped up for a while until I Google searched something totally unrelated. My search terms matched a one-woman copyediting business. I thought, "Hey, maybe she needs some help." I sent her a polite e-mail of inquiry, and it turned out she needed help with her workload after all! Working with her for two years gave me great experience, which has helped me land many more copyediting gigs, and I'm so thankful for that!
What did you do in college to prepare for your post-grad life?
Asked questions. That might sound trivial, but asking is really how you learn and grow as a person. In one's professional life, questions are how you learn your job, become competent, and, eventually, stand out from the competition. I'd also say learning how to conduct research was key as well. No one person can know everything, but knowing the resources at your disposal (i.e., knowing where to find the answers) is a valuable asset in today's work environment.
What is your advice for students and graduates with an English degree?
You folks have a fantastic skill set—don't underestimate it! I'd say the two most important things you can do for potential and current employers are to 1. show your versatility and 2. network. As I mentioned in the last question, knowing where to find the answers can make you indispensable. Also, knowing people and cultivating genuine relationships not only makes life more fun but can also open up future opportunities.