Name: Nicole Yurcaba
College & Majors/Minors: BA—Business Administration, Bridgewater College; BA—English, Bridgewater College, Masters of Humanities—Writing, Tiffin University; MFA—Writing, Lindenwood University
Current Location: West Virginia and Virginia, USA
Current Form of Employment: English Instructor
Where do you work and what is your current position?
Currently, I teach poetry, Ukrainian literature, effective writing, Publishing and Marketing, and a variety of other courses at Bridgewater College in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.
Tell us about how you found your first job, and how you found your current job (if different).
Wow! My first job. I worked as a bank teller through high school and college, and through graduate school I worked as a substitute teacher, a bank teller, an adjunct professor, and a farm hand. All of those jobs I acquired through networking, which then set the trend for the rest of my career journeys. As my first full-time job, I worked as a Developmental Education Coordinator for a small community college in rural West Virginia where I had originally worked as an adjunct. My job duties consisted of reshaping developmental educational courses and documenting assessment data. In 2015, however, the chair of the English department at Bridgewater College, who during my undergraduate career had been one of my professors, called me and invited me to an interview, because the department was interested in adding an instructor with experience in developmental education. I was offered a non-tenure track instructor’s position shortly thereafter, and I am now entering my fifth year teaching at Bridgewater College.
What was another writing-related job that was important in your career?
Another writing-related job that was important in my career was working as Reading Interventionist for K-3 and then 8th grade. Basically, I worked with students of varying academic capabilities on reading and writing skills both during and outside their regular Language Arts lessons. Working with younger students of varying abilities allowed me to develop useful teaching strategies that help me work with college students of varying abilities in all of the classes that I teach.
What did you do in college to prepare for your post-grad life?
I read everything that I could that was not related to class, and I attended every conference, every open mic event, etc. that I could possibly attend. I also spent a great deal of time with my professors outside of class, discussing literature and writing and publishing. Lastly, I dedicated at least an hour every day to my own personal writing, and I never typed a draft until the final draft—I wrote everything longhand in my journals.
What is your advice for students and graduates with an English degree?
Don’t give up! If I had quit at the first rejection letter, I would not be in a field that I absolutely love. Also, take advantage of every possible work and educational opportunity, because the more experience that a person has, the better, because employers often deem writers as invaluable. Even when I worked as a bank teller, I learned quickly that none of my co-workers wanted to write overdraft and business letters, so, because I was the English major, my manager often gave me that task. Even when I worked as a farm hand, I often proofread and edited my boss’s professional correspondences. Therefore, by proving that I was an asset—no matter the job—and that my talent had a place, I affirmed my position as a writer even when I worked at a job that others wouldn’t associate with writing.