Name: Jessica M. Collins
College & Majors/Minors: UW-Oshkosh, Bachelor of Science - English. Emphasis in Psychology.
Current Location: Rural Wisconsin
Current Form of Employment: Web Copy Manager and Freelance Copywriter
Where do you work and what is your current position?
I am the web copy manager at a promotional products company. Together, my team and I write copy for over 400 products for our website per month. I also write for our company blog and produce some of our marketing emails. I started as the lone copywriter here and as our company and my responsibilities have grown, so has my crew. I knew I wasn't cut out to be a high school teacher, but I love teaching my employees in the training capacity.
I am also building up my freelance writing portfolio right now, writing web copy for successful entrepreneurs, writing articles for websites like the Huff Post, and keeping up my own fitness lifestyle blog. And finally, I am a certified personal trainer working on getting my barre certification so I can teach fitness classes. My life motto is to live life with intensity and be a better person every day! After spending as much quality time with my family as possible, writing and fitness are what make me feel alive.
Tell us about how you found your first job, and how you found your current job (if different).
My first job after college was as an "Order Writer." It had "writer" in the description, but it was actually order entry, so I sort of felt like I was duped when I took the job. I knew that job wasn't what I was called to do, but it was the first job I was able to land after college, so I stuck with it for awhile. Then I sent out one, ONE, resume while working there and landed my dream job at the time at a local company that was only one mile from my and my husband's newlywed home. I had heard this was an excellent place to work and kept a casual eye on their job postings and one day a "web product copywriter" position was posted. It was absolutely perfect, just what I was looking for! During the interview process, I found out I was pregnant with my first child. It was really weird timing, but this job was absolutely, obviously meant to happen. I've been here for 8 years and 2 kids later!
What was another writing-related job that was important in your career?
My positions before this were absolutely random and not writing related at all, but they each gave me their own training for my life up to this point. I went from babysitting as a pre-teen to working at a flower shop and JC Penney as a teen. Then, I worked a security job through college right up until I took the order writer position. Each taught me a new level of responsibility and skill set.
I did try my hand at publishing poetry and short stories on the side during that time. I was always writing, whether my professional positions required it or not. I filled the backs of all my college notebooks and floppy disks and flash drives with my writing and journal entries. Some of the poetry that came out of those buried pages is in my new book Unlatched, which is on Amazon Kindle.
What did you do in college to prepare for your post-grad life?
I was proactive and created my own volunteer positions for several local businesses. I was able to fill my portfolio with writing samples and help my community in a meaningful way at the same time. There are a lot of things I would probably do differently knowing what I know now, but didn't at the time. For example, the internet has created some epic opportunities for content marketing and online business building. I would have probably taken a few more public relations, journalism or website design classes in college. I'm still always learning though. I've taken several courses just for the thrill of it during my time in my current position including getting my copywriting certificate from Media Bistro and taking a Business and Marketing Writing course. The best thing you can do for yourself is to never quit being a student!
What is your advice for students and graduates with an English degree?
There is SO much you can do with an English degree. You think your only two options are to be a starving artist or a teacher, right? But that is so far from the truth, it makes me itch! There are so many beautiful things you can do as an English major in this world. Teachers are a true gift from God, but that doesn't mean we're all cut out to be one. In fact, I offer career strategy calls and a Getting Started Guide for recent English studies graduates to help you nail down a career action plan. I have such incredible resources to share and have acquired so much knowledge that I would love to impart to ambitious future leaders if you're searching for your way after graduation.
Whatever field you want to pursue, the best way to gain valuable experience is to volunteer in the field. This is the most direct route toward what you want, because it's a clear demonstration of your ambition to future employers and it gives you the most invaluable related experience to get you in the door.
I would also say you should always continue learning: read personal development books whenever you can, learn new writing techniques, acquire new skills, study influencers in your favorite field, join a mastermind group, etc. There's always something more to learn. In addition to writing and literature, I have found a reverberating passion in fitness and read everything fitness-related I can get my hands on. I've even published my own e-book titled Budget Fitness and have a few more fitness e-books in the works.
You were put on this earth for a reason, so live your true meaning every single day.