Posts filed under Non-profit

Ignacia Chu-Jacoby: Nonprofit Volunteer Coordinator

Name: Ignacia Chu­Jacoby

Age: 23

College & Majors/Minors: University of California, Merced: Literature and Cultures

Current Location: Menlo Park, CA

Current Form of Employment: Volunteer Coordinator at Year Up

Where do you work and what is your current position?

I am very fortunate to be working at a national nonprofit called Year up. This nonprofit allows me to do what I am most passionate about which is to help others and connect young people with resources that will allow them to better their lives. I am very fortunate to see these students grow as they are given the tools to pursue employment at major corporations such as Google, LinkedIn and Paypal. These students when they graduate earn on average of up to $20 an hour and hold positions that are usually given to those with a college degree.

My role there is Volunteer Coordinator, which is dual role. My primary focus is recruitment of volunteers, and helping coordinate events. Year Up gets volunteers from all over to act as mentors, tutors, guest judges and consultants. I am in charge of the building up the volunteer pipeline in the Silicon Valley as Year Up has two offices in the Bay Area. They are in San Francisco and in San Jose. I primarily work in the San Jose office and help out bridge the volunteer opportunities across the bay area. This involves me recruiting, coordinating and giving presentations on Year Up. Besides recruitment, I mentor four to five students per class cycle and guide them through the program from beginning to end. It is a rewarding experience that keeps me going every day.

Tell us about how you found your first job, and how you found your current job (if different).

My first real job was on my college campus. I was fortunate to have a friend send me the application and it fit with with what I was looking for in a job. I worked for a student's service program called Degree Attainment for Returning and Transfer Students (DARTS). I was one of the founding employees to set the foundation for the program. At DARTS, I had a similar job title as the one that I hold currently with Year Up. I was their PR Coordinator and Professional Development team member. Working at DARTS was a rewarding experience as it taught me how to work in a startup nonprofit work environment.

When I graduated from college, I was fortunate to move to the Bay Area where I started working in the Silicon Valley. I started off working with Americorps VISTA which partnered up with Google. I was a Technology Specialist. There, I was in charge of setting up Computer Science classes for kids 3-­6th grade. After some time working with Americorps VISTA, I found myself wanting something more so I applied for other jobs on LinkedIn and found Year Up. Thanks to LinkedIn I was able to go through the interview process and land my current position there.

What was another writing­-related job that was important in your career?

While I was attending UC Merced, I was interning with UC Merced’s Undergraduate Research Journal. I started with them as their PR Laison/Editor and was promoted to Senior Editor. It was an overall great experience as I got to work with many different students and learn about different types of research that were being conducted on my campus. I also met one of my favorite professors there that has been a great role model to me since I was there and still today.

What did you do in college to prepare for your post­grad life?

To prepare for post­grad life I got involved with my college campus by joining things that related to my major and field of interest. That allowed me to build skills for my resume and to network with alums that I am still connected with today. I also did spend time outside of school learning new web applications (ex. Google Apps) and basic computer hardware. I used that to launch my personal consulting firm for editing and professional development and to start my own entrepreneurship platform. I also mentored students who were fellow English majors. Doing all of that in college allowed me to work with diverse people and to take up skills that I can use in a personal and professional setting.

What is your advice for students and graduates with an English degree?

My major piece of advice for students and graduates is to have perseverance and to teach yourself skills outside of the English major discipline. We are in the digital age, so technology is the way the world is being ran and as English majors we have to be up to date. It takes time to learn and to continuously be up to date on technology and it is something that I have seen enhance my skills that I have developed when I was in undergrad. Being an English major, it taught me how to critically think and learn different writing methods used in corporate America and in the non­profit sector. Combined with self-taught skills in publishing and web applications, it has gotten me to where I am at now. If I can do it anyone can! Be fierce and strive to learn!

People can find me on LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter. There I highlight my life in the Silicon Valley and showcase my work at Year Up.

Posted on January 17, 2016 and filed under Non-profit.

Rebecca Andruszka: Director of Development & Communications

Name: Rebecca Andruszka

Age: 35

College & Majors/Minors: Eugene Lang College (New School for Social Research): English BA, 2001; Hunter College (City University of New York): English MA, 2007

Current Location: Denver, CO

Current Form of Employment: Director of Development & Communications, Denver Urban Gardens

Where do you work and what is your current position?

I just started working at Denver Urban Gardens as their chief fundraiser and media guru. My job is a mix of writing strategy (grants, solicitation letters, press releases, Facebook posts), and meeting people. 

Tell us about how you found your first job, and how you found your current job (if different). 

I got my first non-profit job thanks to volunteering. I was in a boring admin job for several years while I put myself through grad school and as I was finishing my thesis (well, THOUGHT I was finishing my thesis), I was looking for a more fulfilling job. Because I had volunteered at a few related organizations and could drop names of some people my future boss knew, I was hired to manage their small office. 

What was another job that was important in your career?

All of my jobs taught me various lessons, but I think my experience in food service really helped me figure out how to work. You don’t rest when you are doing a restaurant job. If there are no customers, you do dishes. If there are no dishes, you dust liquor bottles, etc. I also really learned the importance of customer service and creating a positive vibe. That has helped me immeasurably as a fundraiser (and I always like to hire my fellow former-waiters and bartenders).

What did you do in college to prepare for your post-grad life? 

Honestly, I didn’t do a thing! I was going to undergrad during the Internet boom and it seemed entirely likely that I could get hired at a completely ridiculous company with no skills. But the boom went bust my senior year and I was completely behind. I was too cool to go to the university seminar on writing cover letters, so I was banging out three-sentence emails and attaching my resume and wondering why no one was calling me. I didn’t learn how to properly apply to a job until I had three years of temping under my belt.

What is your advice for students and graduates with an English degree?

Unless you are going into something really specialized (like publishing or academia), your future boss doesn’t really care that you have an English degree. They care that you have A degree and that you hopefully have some related work/internship experience. The benefit of an English degree is that it is really easy to spin in different ways for the business world—it shows that you have superior communication skills and that is really important in most entry-level jobs.

Check out Rebecca's professional website, her writing on and Connect with Rebecca on LinkedIn, and follow her on Twitter!

Posted on January 6, 2015 and filed under Communications, Non-profit, Writing, Grant Writing.

Brandy Bauer: Communications Manager


Name: Brandy Bauer

Age: 40

College & Majors/Minors: B.A. in Women’s Studies (Smith College) and MFA in Creative Writing (Minnesota State University, Mankato)

Current Location: Washington, DC

Current Form of Employment: Communications Manager at the National Council on Aging

Where do you work and what is your current position?

I work as Communications Manager of the Economic Security division of a national nonprofit dedicated to helping older adults age well. My job means that I have a hand in writing or editing everything that my division puts out, from e-newsletters to press releases to website content to proposals and reports. I also do a bit of public speaking, at conferences and on webinars.

I’m lucky that I get to write every single day—in fact, that’s about 70% of my work. I’m also fortunate that I don’t take work home with me, so I still have a chance to do creative writing in my spare time.

Tell us about how you found your first job, and how you found your current job (if different).

I got my undergraduate degree when the Internet was in its infancy, so finding a career-type job was more difficult. I bounced around a bit, working at a bookstore, as a volunteer coordinator at a museum, and in an after-school program.

When I finished my MFA, I came to a crossroads. I was offered an adjunct position teaching Composition 101 at a southern state university, and also a position as an Editorial Assistant for the Cancer Information Service. I thought the latter sounded more interesting, and had better job security, so I took it and never looked back at academia.

Fifteen years later, I’ve held a variety of editorial and writing jobs, all with a health and human services focus.

What was another job that was important in your career?

I’ve learned a lot from all of my jobs, but one of the most interesting and challenging opportunities I had was the three years I spent as a Communications Editor in Kabul, Afghanistan.

I’d always wanted to live and work abroad, but wasn’t sure how to leverage my background in writing and editing into development work. In graduate school, I had a professor who told us that there was a market for literature in translation, especially in more obscure languages. Knowing that there was a rich literary tradition in Persian, I studied that language for two years here in DC. That got my foot in the door to work at a think tank in Afghanistan (where the local language, Dari, is a dialect of Persian).

Working with people from all over the world, I learned a tremendous amount about how to convey information in clear, plain language that non-native English speakers and non-technical experts can understand.

What did you do in college to prepare for your post-grad life?

I wish I could say I had a lot of foresight to prepare for post-grad life, but I didn’t! Networking really wasn’t a thing back then, or if it was, I didn’t know how to do it.

I did, however, take advantage of the resume writing classes offered by my college’s career office.

Also I tried to treat each day as a job, allotting specific blocks of time for class, studying, going to the library, and exercising/socializing. That helped a lot in transitioning to full work days and learning how to balance work with fun.

What is your advice for students and graduates with an English degree?

Just remember: Everybody gets a break. When I finished my B.A., I worried so much that I’d be working retail/food service forever. But you don’t ever meet a 40-year-old college graduate who’s never had a real job. Your first (or second or third) job may be boring or not draw on your skill sets, but eventually you’ll find a good fit.

Connect with Brandy on LinkedIn

Posted on August 31, 2014 and filed under Communications, Editing, Non-profit, Writing.

Amy Braunschweiger: Web Communications Manager @ Human Rights Watch

Name: Amy Braunschweiger

Age: 39

College & Majors/Minors: English and German major/European studies minor

Current Location: NYC

Current Form of Employment: Web Communications Manager at Human Rights Watch

Where do you work and what is your current position?

I work at Human Rights Watch as their web communications manager–I basically work as their feature writer, do a lot of editing, and I’m part of a team that oversees strategy and execution for all our digital properties, including our website, social media, e-newsletters, other digital projects, etc. What I do is storytelling, often using words together with photos and video. I work with people who are lawyers and human rights experts, so a lot of what I do is translate what I’m told or what I read from political/legalese into language that allows a piece to live and breathe. The information was already there, it was just buried.

I’ve had so many writing and editing jobs I can’t even count, as I was a freelancer for ages.

  • Author: Wrote the book Taxi Confidential: Life, Death and 3 a.m. Revelations in New York City Cabs.
  • Freelance article writer: Had fun, fabulous articles published in awesome places like the New York Times, New York magazine, Worth, etc. At the Village Voice I lead a team of writers to create 3,000 or so nightlife listings/reviews.
  • Freelance less-sexy writer: Had less fun but also sometimes interesting pieces published in steady-paying places like trade magazines for financial professionals, nonprofit newsletters, for investment banks, random financial sites, etc.
  • Ghost writer: Helped ghost write an encyclopedia of American food and wine. (It was never published as the head writer entered something of a downward spiral.)
  • Other odd jobs/gigs that my writing and reporting skills lead to as a freelancer: Had a gig doing background checks on corporate executives (reporting skills); Market research for an arm of Morgan Stanley (interviewing skills); researching how to build schools in Vietnam for a nonprofit (research skills).
  • My only other fulltime job: Was a financial reporter at Dow Jones writing mostly breaking news stories. My feature stories (3% of the job) often made it into the Wall Street Journal. 
  • Stringer at Ohio’s Toledo City Paper: Wrote about nightlife, culture and fun.
  • International: I’ve also had a few fellowships that have allowed me to live in Germany and work at German-language publications. I’m not a native speaker, just lucky and strong-willed.

Tell us about how you found your first job, and how you found your current job (if different). 

I was in my early 20s when I came home to Toledo, Ohio, from a fellowship I had in Germany. I didn’t consider myself a journalist, but I really enjoyed participating in, and writing about, nightlife and the arts (at my college paper, at my internship as an MTV stringer covering Cincinnati’s music scene, at my fellowship in Leipzig, Germany where I worked at their city magazine). But I thought that I was now an adult, and adults wrote about politics and finance, so I should get a job writing about one of those two things. So I lived with my folks, waitressed, drove my mom’s car and spent months applying to “serious” jobs. Somewhere in there, I got dumped, too. It was not a happy time.

My first real full-time job was at Dow Jones Newswires, and getting hired there was crazy. I applied for it, and then called me, did a phone interview, and then asked me if I’d take a 4-hour test in their Detroit Wall Street Journal bureau (Dow Jones also owns the WSJ). I asked them for any tips, and they said brush up on your math, know how to calculate percentages. I did, drove the hour to Detroit, and took the test. It took me an extra hour, but it really wasn’t that bad. They were mostly trying to judge how logical you were—do you compare apples to apples if we give you apples, oranges and bananas? That type of thing. I easily calculated all the answers in the math section, but had I not asked about what to study ahead of time, I would have winged that entire section, and the results could have been grim. Math was never my best subject (understatement). Just as an fyi.

Then Dow Jones let me know that I passed the test and asked me to come in for a 3-day work trial in Jersey City, where they were based. I had to spring for my own plane ticket and lodgings there. Might I add I had zero money? My folks said “No way!” but I went for it anyway, buying a plane ticket and staying with my friend’s parents in a nearby suburb. There, people who were surprisingly young, fun and interesting trained me in financial newswire writing for three days–how to report on earnings, retail sales, airline figures, mergers, etc. Afterwards they had me take yet another five-hour test to see how well you absorbed the training.

You know what? I totally bombed that test. Awfully. But they still hired me. After the fact, one of my editors told me that they liked my international experience, I was smart enough, and–wait for it–I fit into the newsroom personality-wise.  

My take-away: sometimes you just have to go for it, buy your own plane ticket, and go out of your way to get something. Even if the hiring process is ridiculous.

My other take away: I came to embrace what I call the lunchroom rule. You have to have the skills to get in the door, but people really want to hire a co-worker that they can sit down and talk with over lunch with. I bombed that second test and got hired anyway. Why? The lunchroom rule. When I applied to a long-term freelance position at the Village Voice, my resume was plucked out of already short-listed bunch because of the lunchroom rule (the editor was fascinated with Berlin, and I’d lived there), and at Human Rights Watch I was hired over someone more qualified than me because they just liked me better. I’ve seen this play out over and over again both with friends and with myself.

What was another writing-related job that was important in your career?

Freelancing! It taught me how to write differently for different publications, how to change my tone of voice. I learned how to read publications from Elle Magazine to Inc. critically, to figure out what editors wanted or would more likely buy. I learned how to pitch myself and the articles I wanted to write—you need to be able to sell editors your ideas and yourself as an author. After I went quickly broke, I was forced to begin treating writing like a business—you do have to pay rent after all. So while I kept up the fun, fabulous articles that inspired me, I also began picking up more boring, financial work that paid much better and took much less time to write. For me, and for many freelancers, money worries will suck away your creativity and you’ll stop having fun with your writing, and I was constantly balancing my creative work with the better-paying kind. I also learned how to be flexible and mold your skills to various opportunities in ways that others can’t see. Doing corporate background checks? No problem, it’s really just reporting under a different name.

What did you do in college to prepare for your post-grad life?

Not much, to be honest. I had fun, made good friends, drank a lot of beer, etc. I took a couple journalism classes, but didn’t find them interesting or useful. I didn’t even declare a major until I was a junior, and my GPA was a 3.2 or something. I rowed crew for the joy of it for a year or two but quit because those 5 a.m. practices killed me.

OK, wait, now that I think harder, I did do some things. My journalism professor basically forced me to get a job at the student newspaper because “I’d never get a job” if I didn’t. I found the newspaper so boring, and I just couldn’t stomach the fact of covering city council meetings, so I did layout and design for them, which was actually fun. And it paid. I did a bit of entertainment writing for them—bands, DJs.

I did take some other summer internships, but I really only worked at them 5 hours a week or so—I was a full-time waitress in the summers, as I needed to earn money for college. So I squeezed in an internship at a tiny suburban newspaper.

This is important: My junior year I spent a summer working in a bakery in Berlin and I studied for a semester in Luxembourg. How I got to Berlin: A professor was interviewing students to work there, my friend from a German class wanted to go, she didn’t want to do the interview alone, I went to support her, and ended up being offered a job. Since I would already be living in Europe, I decided to study at Miami University’s branch campus in Luxembourg, as it cost the same as my in-state tuition.

Full disclosure—I didn’t this to gain any international experience. I did it because it sounded like a blast and I have an adventurous streak. But it changed everything for me.

I fell in love with Germany, the language, the culture and became obsessed with really learning and experiencing it all. And in learning about what an amazing place Germany is, I realized that every other country in the world could be exactly as amazing and interesting if I were open to it. Despite growing up in an area that really wasn’t very diverse, I fell in love with all things international. I went back (for the love of it) and really learned German. I cannot tell you how many doors this experience has opened up for me, both personally and professionally.

Take away: If you want to live abroad and learn a language, do it. No regrets.

OK, back to college. Senior year, something amazing happened. I was looking for a fall internship on our listservs, scrolling past opportunities to cover city hall and PTA meetings in small town Ohio (I love small town Ohio, but no way), when I saw an internship to be a stringer for MTV online. I applied to cover the music scene in nearby Cincinnati, and to my amazement, landed it. It was unpaid, but I was living the free-concert-ticket dream. It was amazing. I had a blast. And I won a writing award reserved for their top seven stringers across the U.S. (they had 100, I think).

My take away from that internship: You can get work doing what you love to do. Not always, and it won’t work out the way you foresee, but it happens. Next step: getting paid for it.

What is your advice for students and graduates with an English degree?

You may hate your first job. I sure did. But that doesn’t mean you aren’t learning a lot there. And you’ll learn what you don’t want to do/deal with in your next job. I spent four years at Dow Jones Newswires, and only enjoyed six months of it. It was years after I left that job that I realized how strong a financial reporter I had become. And that job opened up so many doors, too, through connections I made, because most people couldn’t write about finance and I could, and because people automatically took you a bit more seriously—even people at glossy women’s magazines. Who knew? So even if you’re hating it, keep learning.

Take big risks if you have the stomach for it. (Say, when I quit Dow Jones to go freelnace when I had no idea how I would make anything happen). Just also make sure you can stomach the consequences if the worst happens—which for me would have been moving back in with my folks (it didn’t happen).

Figure out what you’re passionate about and stick with it, at least in part. You’re always going to do better at what excites you, and you’ll feed off the energy of it. Just prioritize it. It may not be a full-time job or even a part-time job, but it’ll make you feel good.

Keep talking to people. People, for me, are key. People sometimes know things you don’t know and have opportunities you don’t know about. Are you stuck on your novel? Do some research by talking to people who may be similar to your character, either in job or personality. Are you a journalist out of story ideas? Just start talking to people at a bar, at a party, on a plane—especially talk to people different from you—and listen to them. Story ideas will just appear.

Follow Amy on twitter!

Posted on August 31, 2014 and filed under Freelance, Communications, Journalism, Non-profit, Self-Employed, Writing.

Katie Woodzick: External Relations Manager @ Hedgebrook

Photo by  Samantha O'Brochta.

Photo by Samantha O'Brochta.

Name: Katie Woodzick

Age: 28 

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.

@ AWP.

@ AWP.

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.

Celebrating the release of the 2014 VIDA count.

Celebrating the release of the 2014 VIDA count.

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.

Check out Katie's professional website and visit her blog!


Brittany Shelley: Director of Content Marketing

Brittany Shelley: Director of Content Marketing

Amanda Rinker: Content Manager at OVC Lawyer Marketing

Amanda Rinker: Content Manager at OVC Lawyer Marketing

Andy Badalamenti: Creative Director at an Advertising Agency

Andy Badalamenti: Creative Director at an Advertising Agency

Posted on July 20, 2014 and filed under Blogging, Communications, Marketing, Non-profit, Social Media, Writing.

Melissa A. DeDomenico-Payne: Director of Development @ Big Brothers Big Sisters

Name: Melissa A. DeDomenico-Payne

Age: 45

College & Majors/Minors: B.A. English, B.S. Psychology, M.A. Psychological Services – Counseling, currently working on D.P.A. (Doctorate in Public Administration)

Current Location: Virginia

Current Form of Employment: Contracting part-time with Big Brothers Big Sisters as Director of Development

Where do you work and what is your current position?

I have spent much of my life working with non-profits to address social and/or mental health issues that impact families. I have served as Executive Director of three different non-profit organizations in Virginia, which has allowed me to develop a multitude of development, human services, crisis intervention, strategic planning, coalition building, intergovernmental relations, personnel, fiduciary, evaluation, event coordination, and public relations skills. In addition, my career also boasts a period serving as Grant Writing Coordinator with Centerstone of Nashville, Tennessee, which at that time was the largest provider of community-based behavioral health services in the United States. Additionally, I served as the first Quality Assurance/Compliance Specialist for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) for approximately a year before returning to the “field” of domestic violence/sexual assault. My departure was to an organization where I had begun my career, which had been experiencing tremendous financial strain. It had been my hope that my return to the organization with a combination of experience and renewed energy would be beneficial. While I was able to provide some assistance to the organization, the organization made the decision to close and I was asked to resign. This also coincided with some serious health issues, so I did not return to full-time work. Instead, I am currently continuing with pursuit of my D.P.A. and working part-time for the local Big Brothers Big sisters.

In my jobs, I have written many, many grants, as well as press releases, personnel and board policies, marketing materials (brochures, fact pages, etc.), by-laws and other organizational documents, material for web pages, appeal letters, speeches which were delivered to local, regional, state, and federal offices, curricula and tests for training, client information summaries, meeting minutes, newsletters, and correspondence to various individuals and organizations. I’m sure there are other things I have written as well! I also write a lot for my doctoral program. This is an online program, so discussions are written and the expectations for writing are pretty intense. If I didn’t have good writing skills, I’m not sure I would be doing as well as I am.

Tell us about how you found your first job, and how you found your current job (if different). 

When I was in college, I actually couldn’t make up my mind between majoring in psychology and majoring in English. I decided to pursue teaching, which at that time required a discipline major like English. I later decided not to teach, but just to finish out with both degrees since I had significant coursework in both. When I graduated, it was a time of recession and I really didn’t know how to go about proper job hunting. I had also worked many part-time jobs through high school and college. In some ways, I think this was a disadvantage to me at that time. I lived in an area where the emphasis was more on work than college.

I ended up taking a subcontracting job for IBM as an administrative assistant. I wrote a lot of correspondence and learned a lot about computer systems at this time. I did have to take grammar and typing tests during the application process. These were really a breeze for me at the time. The job I had did not require college, so I had some competencies that most folks didn’t have and I did well at the job.

I got my current job through a connection I had made at my prior job. I had written a grant with this person and worked closely on trying to help their organization come to our community. When you write with others, they get to know you and your competencies, as well as build a rapport with you. This can prove invaluable.

What was another writing-related job that was important in your career?

As mentioned, most of my work has been in non-profits. Working in this area is not a way to become financially wealthy, but it affords a lot of independence and freedom to develop many diverse skills. As suggested above, I have also written a book, but had to put publishing on the back burner. Now I think I will be rewriting it. I feel a certain sense of pride in my grantwriting, which has established many worthy social service programs in several states. My skills in writing converted to helping humanity.

What did you do in college to prepare for your post-grad life?

I did a lot of writing in college and the skill of typing in particular helped me to be faster than folks who did not have that skill. I entered and won a few college poetry contests, which helped me gain confidence in my abilities. My internships were more psychology focused, with direct service to persons with disabilities, as well as individuals with abuse issues. I found over the years that more often than not, my education and experience complimented each other well for the world of public service. To be an effective writer, your work must interest others and there is a fair amount of psychology in that as much as English.

What is your advice for students and graduates with an English degree?

  • Read a lot. Think about what you like or don’t like when you read, especially in terms of subjects, style, and content.
  • Write about what you know. Write as much as possible. Ideally you should develop writing habits that keep you writing regularly.
  • Take criticism with a grain of salt. Be sure to incorporate feedback and suggestions as you can, without compromising your own happiness or ethics. I was always blessed with people who helped edit and provide feedback for my writing. It was something I got used to early on and used to my advantage in becoming better at my craft. If you truly have the gift of writing, be sure to view it as such and use it for good.
  • If you can’t secure a paying job with writing, start by volunteering. Organizations are often grateful to have talented writers help them with things like newsletters, correspondence, marketing materials, etc. And volunteerism can sometimes lead to paid employment for the same types of activities. Most recently, by working on a voluntary writing project with a group, I got to know a few different folks who have been instrumental in helping this next stage of my career progress.
  • Write for fun and enter contests that are free or have very low registration costs. Be wary of scams related to contests or publishing.
  • Don’t be overly critical on yourself. Some things you write will be good and others will not. Some things will be liked by readers and others will not. You will likely evolve your opinions, style, standards, and competencies over time. That is o.k. and expected.


Drake Lucas: Grant Writer @ Human Rights Watch

Drake Lucas: Grant Writer @ Human Rights Watch

Lisa Brunette: Manager of Game Narrative Design

Lisa Brunette: Manager of Game Narrative Design

Abi Humber: Non-Profit Communications Coordinator

Abi Humber: Non-Profit Communications Coordinator

Posted on July 1, 2014 and filed under Grant Writing, Non-profit, Writing.

Megan Falk: Direct Response Marketing Coordinator


Name: Megan Falk

Age: 29

College & Majors/Minors: B.A. English: Creative Writing, with a focus in Womens’ Studies

Current Location: Cincinnati, OH

Current Form of Employment: Direct Response Marketing Coordinator for a non-profit organization

Where do you work and what is your current position?

I work full-time for The Salvation Army Divisional Headquarters as Direct Response Marketing Coordinator. My job is largely encompassed by creating and editing content for direct mailings, as well as creating and updating websites to promote special events.

Tell us about how you found your first job, and how you found your current job (if different).

My first job straight out of college was as an ESL instructor in Seoul, South Korea. At the time, I was blissfully afflicted with wanderlust and the job market was dismal, so teaching English seemed to be the perfect fit. A friend of the family had been teaching in South Korea for years and although I enjoyed his anecdotes and stories he told during his state-side visits, I wanted to see it all for myself!

After completing the lengthy application and applying for my passport, I had to answer a few essay questions regarding my aspirations in English and undergo a phone interview (Skype had only just launched and was still quite unknown!). I lived in Seoul for one year and massively enjoyed balancing work and play.

An acquaintance assisted me with acquiring my current job in the non-profit sector. She had been promoted and asked me if I knew of anyone who would be interested in her former position; I jumped at the chance. I had always been told that working for a non-profit was very rewarding and I can honestly attest that it is and continues to be!

What was another writing-related job that was important in your career?

When I returned to the U.S. after a year teaching abroad, I took on a job as a teacher’s aide at a special needs elementary school. Although most of my day consisted of working one-on-one with students, I was given the opportunity to assist a colleague with creating content for the school’s new website. I relished the opportunity to put my writing skills into action while helping to promote the services and programs of the school.

What did you do in college to prepare for your post-grad life?

I applied and interviewed for the college newspaper but unfortunately did not get the job. Writers and reporters for the college newspaper were highly coveted positions and although I didn’t get hired on, this was perhaps my first real lesson about the competitiveness of writers in the job market. This experience, however, did not deter me from submitting articles on a freelance basis in order to get my work out there in print.

During my sophomore and junior years, I had a paid summer internship at a marketing firm. The internship allowed me to learn how to make professional connections and discover that the film “Office Space” was really a cautionary tale! All cinematic interpretations aside, I learned first-hand what the expectations were of working in a nine-to-five office job.

What is your advice for students and graduates with an English degree?

Having meticulous spelling, grammar, and punctuation will assist you in many ways, but in order to find and keep employment that will justify your years spent studying English, you must not settle. It is of the utmost importance to find a job that you look forward to going to each day.

Employers want to hire someone who stands out and can bring innovation to their company. Keep your mind fresh with learning about new technologies and acquire new skills that will make you a valuable asset. Accept challenges head-on and understand that there are no failures, only learning opportunities.

Visit Megan's online writing portfolio, check out her blog, and connect with her on LinkedIn!

Posted on May 18, 2014 and filed under Non-profit, Writing, Editing, Teaching, Web Design, Marketing.