Name: Megan Kizer
College & Majors/Minors: Arizona State University, Bachelor of Arts in English, Certificate in Writing for Publishing and Editing
Current Location: Scottsdale, Arizona
Current Form of Employment: SEO Content Writer
Where do you work and what is your current position?
I work at a global integrated marketing agency called PMX Agency, formerly known as PM Digital. I am their first in-house SEO Content Writer. For those of you who don't know what SEO means (which, to be quite honest, I didn't completely understand it until I accepted the job), it stands for Search Engine Optimization. This essentially means that I have the opportunity to write page optimization copy, net-new copy, and blog posts for leading clients across several industries, in order to ensure that they rank among the highest search results in Google. I'm also beginning to actively contribute to our own company's blog.
Overall, my job is to tell the client's story in a way their customers will understand and appreciate, while using the strongest keywords possible to enhance their online presence. It can be challenging, and there's quite a bit of research involved, but it's my kind of puzzle. At the end of the day, it's a great feeling to go onto a major client's website and think, "Hey, I wrote that!" It's an even better feeling to be able to write and use my voice creatively—every single day—and get paid for it. Whaaaat?
Tell us about how you found your first job, and how you found your current job (if different).
While I do dabble in freelance work, my position at PMX is actually my first career straight out of college. I found my job through listings on Glassdoor.com. This website gives you information on the company, as well as reviews from past and present employees who can list pros and cons of working there. It gives you an idea of what to expect from a job before you even start working there. So, if you're searching for a new job, I recommend using this service to hear what other employees are saying about it!
What was another writing-related job that was important in your career?
The most important writing job I had prior to working at PMX was my internship at Green Living magazine in Scottsdale, Arizona. There, I learned how to write professional blog posts and articles, as well as how to maintain an online presence through several social media networks.
Crafting the blog posts actually taught me the necessary SEO skills that transferred over to my current career, including the importance of keywords, title tags, and meta descriptions to search engine result pages (SERPs). Without acquiring this skill, I might not have gotten such an amazing career.
Some simple (but still important) advice: learn as much as you can in the time you have. You'll never know which skills will help you later on.
What did you do in college to prepare for your post-grad life?
I worked, a lot. I pushed myself to work full-time while I was in school so that I didn't have to pay off loans later on. As an English major, I assumed that it would be challenging to break into a writing career straight out of college, so I did everything I could to prepare myself to be in a debt-free position when I entered the workforce.
I also took on a lot of internships! I was the lead non-fiction editorial intern for ASU's Canyon Voices literary magazine, and an editor for The PEN Project. There, I edited short stories and poems from inmates. The internships I was a part of gave me real-world experience in professional communication with other writers that allowed me to really bulk up my resume and aid me in my career search.
Through my internships, I learned one important lesson: put as much effort into networking as you do with your writing. Setting yourself up with strong contacts that are already working in the industry can push you through doors you never thought possible. Build your LinkedIn site, create a portfolio, and get your name out there.
What is your advice for students and graduates with an English degree?
Find your niche! I originally thought I wanted to work as an editor or be affiliated with a publishing company, but that was before I learned about SEO. I love what I do at PMX, and I'm grateful for the opportunities that led me to this career. Please know that there are plenty of jobs across many industries that are waiting for you—some that you may not have even heard of. Go out and find it!
Understand that having an English degree prepares you for a career where every day is different. Whether you're writing for a new client, critically analyzing data, or communicating with coworkers or clients, you're putting the skills you've learned in college to work that day. So, find what you love to do, and don't let anybody else sway you.
Stay positive. There are plenty of reports out there explaining how many fields English majors can enter into. I share a philosophy with most others: you can teach an English major business skills, but you can't always teach a Business major communication skills. Us English majors? We're special.
Don't forget to work hard. Try your hand at different internships so that you can find what you like before being stuck in a job you're unhappy with. Please don't think that you won't be able to ever use an English degree, or that being an English teacher is your only route to success. People will tell you this countless times. In reality, there is an ever-growing online presence where ads and copy are everywhere you look! In fact, agencies are just beginning to realize the impact that strong content has for a website, and are more likely to hire their own writers rather than outsource the work these days. Writing—good, solid writing—is more important than ever.