Name: Rachel Grate
College & Majors/Minors: English Major, Gender & Women's Studies Minor
Current Location: San Francisco, CA
Current Form of Employment: Content Marketing Specialist at Eventbrite
Where do you work and what is your current position?
I work at Eventbrite, a tech company in San Francisco, as a Content Marketing Specialist. The easiest way to describe my job is that I produce content for event organizers (specifically music organizers — think the people behind your favorite music festival or the owner of your favorite live music venue). The type of content is a lot more diverse than you might expect — I write blog posts and ebooks, but also produce infographics, podcasts, video, quizzes and more. The theory of content marketing is that by producing free content that helps event organizers, they'll later choose us to help them ticket their event.
Tell us about how you found your first job, and how you found your current job (if different).
I'm currently at my first full-time job, which I found by interning at the company before my senior year of college. I liked it so much — and they liked me — that I came back!
It wasn't quite as easy as that might sound because they didn't have clearance to hire anyone in my role at first. My manager really advocated for me to be able to extend me an offer to come back as a full-time contractor after graduation — which proves how important your network is. (I also contracted for them part-time during my senior year of college, which probably helped me stay top of mind.) A few months after I returned as a contractor, I had proved my value to the company and was converted to a full-time employee.
What was another writing-related job that was important in your career?
I ultimately decided reporting wasn't for me (I wasn't a fan of the long hours and low pay), but I'm really appreciative of my background in journalism. It started all the way back in high school, on the school newspaper and yearbook. But as an editor in college and through one internship at a newspaper, that experience extended and taught me a lot about writing well, capturing attention, editing others' writing, and meeting deadlines.
Even though I'm in Marketing professionally now, they're more similar than you may think. (I also still do freelance journalism for a couple different online publications — I just don't like to rely on it for my paycheck.)
What did you do in college to prepare for your post-grad life?
An easier question might be what didn't I do. At school itself, I worked for the school newspaper as the Life & Style editor, I worked as a writer for the Office of Communications & Marketing, and my senior year I was the Marketing & Communications Intern for our Career Planning office.
I spoke up in class, and I've had coworkers actually compliment me on my confidence in meetings as a result. And I kept my grades up — recruiters may not care about the GPA number itself, but having "Dean's List" or "Cum Laude" next to your name is a quick way to prove you're a hard worker.
I also had an internship every summer since I graduated high school. Play around in your internships — I worked at a newspaper, a nonprofit, a tech company; I worked in reporting, communications, PR and marketing. It's a great way to find out what career is really right for you.
The first two internships were unpaid, but I learned a lot, got some bylines, and seriously improved my resume — and did babysitting on the side to make money. The next two internships were paid — and I was lucky enough to get an internship at a place I loved so much I came back post-grad.
Finally — if you, like me, don't want to deal with a never-ending job search, it's best to get started early. I ended up accepting an offer at the place I interned at before my senior year, but I started applying to other opportunities over winter break. A lot of places won't be willing to wait for you to graduate — but some will. And it's always better to get the conversation started early. One place I applied took two months to respond to me — but they eventually did offer me a role.
What is your advice for students and graduates with an English degree?
Don't let the Starbucks barista jokes get you down. I had what are largely considered to be some of the least useful degrees out there (in English and Women's Studies), and I had a job lined up before graduation. But don't get me wrong — it will take work.
If you want to be a writer, you have to know what each writing assignment you take is worth. Early on in your career, that might mean taking on work for free, because the worth is in the education and experience. But once you reach a certain level, be confident in your skill and your own worth, and expect to be compensated accordingly.