Name: Katriel Paige
College & Majors/Minors: Undergrad: University of Delaware (USA) with a double major in English and East Asian Studies. Minor in comparative religion. Postgrad: I went for an MA at the University of Surrey (UK), and did the Intercultural Communication with International Business course there when my initial course (an interdepartmental effort relating to human - computer interaction) was canceled.
Current Location: Washington DC
Current Form of Employment: Full-time salaried Usability Specialist. I also do cultural lectures and still write (which is why I have a Patreon: www.patreon.com/kachi)
Where do you work and what is your current position?
I work in usability; helping websites and web applications be easier to use for everyone.
Tell us about how you found your first job, and how you found your current job (if different).
My first job was actually back in high school, and I would pick up gigs here and there, but my first job after college was working with a small educational supplement publisher. They specialized in developing supplements meant for teachers of English/language arts in grade school. Because I was familiar with database design principles and had a passion for literature, I got a job researching all the state educational standards and making a key to make sure the supplements met those standards. It was a summer job between undergrad and grad school, but I was really glad to be working there. It meant a lot there that I loved books. (I also wrote the documentation and development notes for the project!)
What was another writing-related job that was important in your career?
I ended up falling into writing about tech—computers, accessories, gaming. There are a lot of technology writers, admittedly, and it's brutal out there. But I wanted to write about what the tech meant, how people could relate to it, what tasks would be easier. An A9 chip doesn't mean much to most non-industry folk unless you can put it in context, in a narrative: how will this help me do work on the train? How will this help me to stay in contact with friends and family?
In usability (user experience design) we create stories. As humans we are wired for storytelling, so the need to be able to tell stories is everywhere.
What did you do in college to prepare for your post-grad life?
The best advice I have for people currently in school is to build a portfolio. Want to go into writing? Then write. Keep writing. Pitch to places. Don't work for exposure unless you are very clear and upfront about what you want out of it.
What is your advice for students and graduates with an English degree?
An English degree doesn't mean a life of teaching or dreaming of being a novelist. Storytelling is everywhere. Look into how you can apply narrative analysis or close reading to other fields. Cultivate hobbies and write about what you experience in them. Look into cross-training even within writing: even if you desperately want to write for a newspaper, try that poetry workshop or learn about scriptwriting. Like cross-training your body, your writing will be stronger because of it.