Name: Cassie Viau
College & Majors/Minors: Plymouth State University – Bachelor of Arts in English, Writing Concentration, Business Administration Minor
Current Location: Salem, NH
Current Form of Employment: Marketing Manager
Where do you work and what is your current position?
I work at a national healthcare staffing agency as the Marketing Manager. My team and I handle all of the marketing efforts for the company, including blogs, social media, digital advertising, print materials, and event planning. We have five unique divisions within the company to support, so it’s a busy job, but a ton of fun. It’s a great opportunity to do a little bit of everything in the marketing world!
Tell us about how you found your first job, and how you found your current job (if different).
I started in the world of marketing back in 2009, when social media and blogs were just starting to become a mainstream idea for businesses. I happened across a job opening on Craigslist for a copywriter who would be comfortable using sites like Facebook and Twitter. I immediately jumped at the chance to start a job that would actually use my writing skills—I was working as a bank teller at the time and desperate to start a real career. I ended up getting hired for that position and spent the next six-and-a-half years working my way through the ranks at a small digital marketing agency. I eventually ended up as the Director of Social Media Services, managing a full team of content writers, graphic designers, and social media specialists.
In 2015, I was contacted on LinkedIn by my current company. They were looking for someone to come in and jumpstart their marketing efforts and liked my background. It ended up being an incredible opportunity for me to build a new team from the ground up and develop a marketing plan for a great company. And with my experience at a marketing agency, I was already used to balancing projects and deadlines for a range of clients. Now, my “clients” are the different divisions that we have.
What was another writing-related job that was important in your career?
While I was working at the digital marketing agency I was deeply engrained in the world of social media—especially Twitter. Through the connections I had there, I ended up with a freelance gig writing a weekly column for a local paper all about social media. I’d explain what different social media sites were, how to use them, and help people feel more comfortable with this new world that was changing quickly. The articles I wrote there ended up leading to another freelance gig teaching local real estate agents how to manage their own marketing and social media accounts. I’d work at the digital agency during the day and then consult and write at night. I lived and breathed social media marketing 24/7, and that dedication helped me stay ahead of trends and move my career along.
What did you do in college to prepare for your post-grad life?
There are a few things that I did in college that helped prepare me for my post-grad life. I was actively involved in a few different English major related clubs, including Sigma Tau Delta, the honor society. I was also a mentor for incoming English majors with a few friends. Through the mentoring group, we developed a digital “writing center” for students who had quick questions about their essays and assignments. We used AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) at the time. It was one of the first times I’d hack some sort of technology to give people what they were looking for, which turned out to be really helpful in a digital marketing career.
I was also the founding editor of a newsletter for the English department. My version was old school—a PDF I’d create in Publisher. But now that newsletter has transformed into a blog that students contribute to. It’s really exciting to see how it’s evolved with the times.
Adding a Business Minor to my writing degree also helped a lot. During the summer between sophomore and junior year, I was calling around to different publishing companies, book agents, and publications to try and find some internship experience. One of them told me that they were sick of seeing English majors with no business sense apply for jobs and completely shut me down. I immediately went back to school and added that minor to help give myself a leg up for life after graduation!
What is your advice for students and graduates with an English degree?
Hustle! As cliché as it sounds, if you can write and work during your time at school, you’ll already have a portfolio ready to go when you graduate. That helps tremendously when you’re applying for copywriting jobs. Employers want to see that you’ve done more than just complete assignments in class. And once you are working, whether it’s in your field or not, keep writing! Take any freelance gig you can get, start your own blog, do something that keeps you writing and honing your craft.
I’d also recommend that you branch out beyond the English department. Taking a few business classes helped give me some baseline knowledge that my bosses appreciated. As fun as it was to spend hours a day reading literature and writing poetry, I’m glad I forced myself to break out into the business department as well. You don’t have to stick to business classes either. Classes in journalism, social media, marketing, or even web development can really help you round out your education and make you more marketable to employers.