Name: Allena Tapia
College & Majors/Minors: Michigan State University, English major, Spanish and Education minor
Current Location: Grand Ledge, Michigan
Current Form of Employment: Freelance writer & communications consultant
Where do you work and what is your current position?
I own GardenWall Publications LLC, a 10-year-old communications agency. I am the owner and head writer. I have two regular employees (my teen children, who do administrative tasks) and several contractors. My contractors are all over the world, as one of my services is English to Spanish translation, so I retain native speakers in several different dialects. I also make use of a proofreader and an accountant. At times, I hire temporary contractors for overflow work, too.
Our current client load consists of two magazines, several non-profits, and one website. My newest client has been with me for three years. My oldest client has been with me for close to a decade now. We offer various (written) services, such as copy, content marketing, translation, promotions and social media management. I do take on some one-off clients, such as author support services (editorial, book promotion, social media set-up).
Tell us about how you found your first job, and how you found your current job (if different).
My first job was as an editor with the local community college. I actually secured it the very week after I graduated from MSU. It was a posted position.
What was another writing-related job that was important in your career?
Another position I had was at MSU about a year and half after I graduated. I supported the Editor in Chief of an international science research journal. This included editing, researcher liaison duties and general departmental duties.
What did you do in college to prepare for your post-grad life?
I was originally an Education major. However, MSU has a program that requires an extra year of undergrad work for teacher certification. At the cusp of that extra year, I was burned out by raising a toddler and a baby and going to school full time. I looked over my credits and realized I could take a BA in English with just one more semester. That last semester, I put everything into my English degree, including securing two internships: one with a local magazine and one as a grant writer with a statewide nonprofit. It was these two internships that allowed me to transition to the workplace so quickly after graduating. I had marketable skills that were demonstrable and backed up by my internship portfolio.
What is your advice for students and graduates with an English degree?
For students, I highly recommend seeking out internships or volunteer work that will garner you a portfolio.