Name: Anna Wenner
College Majors: English and History Minor: Global and International Studies
Current Location: Kansas City, MO
Current Form of Employment: Editor at Hallmark Cards, Inc.
Where do you work and what is your current position?
I work at Hallmark Cards, Inc. as an Associate Editor making greeting cards.
Tell us about how you found your first job, and how you found your current job (if different).
Although I did have some part time jobs and internships in college, this was my first full time job. In January of my junior year I applied for dozens of internships, most of which I never heard back from. Honestly, it felt like I could have been tossing my resume to the wind and had the same effect, which was pretty disheartening. Then I got a call back from Hallmark for their Writing/Editorial Internship. The application for this internship probably took me the most time out of any of those that I applied for. It involved creating a portfolio of greeting card samples and insight as well as submitting more standard application pieces such as a resume and cover letter. Then, when I got called back, I still had an interview to get through. Although it took time, it was well worth it because I got the editorial internship. That summer I interned at Hallmark's main headquarters in Kansas City, MO and later that year I was given a full time job offer to be an editor at Hallmark.
What was another writing-related job that was important in your career?
My junior year in college I was the editor for the opinion section of the University Daily Kansan, the KU student newspaper. This job was great as a resume builder, but more than that, it was a great experience toward learning what I liked and didn't like about editing. In this position I read and edited about fifteen opinion pieces per week, which meant that in order to save time, I had to adapt to reading faster, giving only the most important comments as feedback for the writer, and honing in quickly on the meat of an argument and whether it was well made. Moving quickly for the paper as an editor (and in other roles that I served on the paper before and after my stint as an editor) taught me the importance of deadlines and helped me learn to balance speed and accuracy in my work.
What did you do in college to prepare for your post-grad life?
More internships hands down. It didn't really feel necessary to me to apply for internships until the summer of my junior year, and honestly, that was coming into it pretty late in the game. I lucked out because the first internship I did in college turned out to be something I really wanted to do full time, but that's not always the case. For instance, during high school I did an internship at a newspaper and while I loved the experience, it made me pretty confident that I didn't actually want to be a reporter like I thought I did. If I'd done more internships either during school or during breaks, I could have felt more sure about what sort of job I was (and perhaps just as important, wasn't) looking for. For me doing more internships wasn't entirely feasible because I studied abroad the summer of my sophomore year and I worked a lot every other break, but I do think I could have made it more of a priority to find internships.
What is your advice for students and graduates with an English degree?
I have two pieces of advice for my fellow English majors:
1) People told me constantly that I wouldn't know what I wanted to do for a living in high school because there were so many jobs out there that I'd never heard of before. They were right.
If you'd asked me in high school what I thought I'd be doing by now, I'm sure I wouldn't have answered that I'd be making greeting cards, because honestly while I knew someone had to be the person putting the words on greeting cards, I never imagined it was a job I could actually have. Being at Hallmark has made me realize how many awesome, entirely unheard of jobs there are out there.
2) Take that weird, non-writing related job. The stranger the better.
The job I'm asked about most often off my resume is never something writing related—it's my part time job at a cemetery.
I spent every break for several years returning to my hometown and working in the office of a cemetery there. I helped digitize their records by doing data entry, and did some investigative work to try and recover records that had been destroyed by a fire a few decades ago. There was nothing remotely writing or editing related about this job, but it's come up in every interview I've ever had. Why? Because let's be honest, it's a talking point. From my point of view, I was better off taking a strange paid job than doing a handful of more stereotypical "English major" roles at my college. Don't get me wrong—English major related experiences are really important for all the reasons I listed before, but I do think a weird job helps you stand out. It helps too if you can tie it back to whatever you're applying for. For instance, I usually said something about how working on rebuilding the lost records in the cemetery taught me to think outside the box and explore new avenues for answers.