Name: Debra Scala Giokas
College & Majors/Minors: Stony Brook University / BA / English, Dowling College / MBA / Management
Current Location: Long Island, New York
Current Form of Employment: Marketing Director at a Law Firm
Where do you work and what is your current position?
I am the Marketing Director at Certilman Balin Adler & Hyman, LLP. We are a full-service law firm on Long Island with 80 attorneys and 15 areas of practice. My position encompasses public relations, media relations, community and charitable relations, external and internal communications, marketing planning and strategy, building brand awareness, networking, advertising, graphic design, social media, web site revision and maintenance, and special events. No two days are ever the same, but I write every day.
Tell us about how you found your first job…
I was hired as a senior in high school at JC Penney because I told the HR Director I was “willing to learn.” I kept that job throughout college and worked my way through school as a sales associate in every department. After graduation, Canon USA saw magical words on my resume: camera department at JC Penney and English degree. Nothing that you ever do is ever lost! My sales experience and communication skills helped me in my marketing career.
…and how you found your current job (if different)
I did not apply for my current position. By the time the firm was ready to hire its first marketing director, I already had nine years of experience at two other law firms. I was fortunate to get into this new field at the ground level. The job you find yourself in may not even exist yet.
What was another writing-related job that was important in your career?
It’s not another job, but rather continuing education. I’ve always taken courses in writing. Recently, I joined the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. My participation in poetry workshops, in memoir and short story courses, and picture book writing classes at conferences, to name a few, have made me a well-rounded writer. That made me a better business writer. I also taught marketing classes as an adjunct and had to grade marketing research papers. There is no better way to learn your field than to teach it.
What did you do in college to prepare you for post-grad life?
My best preparation in college was studying hard and working my way through school. Time management is essential to success. The ability to juggle many projects and deliver them ahead of deadline is crucial.
What is your advice to students with an English degree?
You picked an awesome major. The ability to communicate is essential in any job. If you can read, you can learn. If you can write, you have an advantage. If you can tell your organization’s story, you will have a job.
For me, literature is a life-long love affair. If you have curiosity, determination and discipline, you can enrich your life with reading. You’ll always be able to find your way. If I had to pick a major all over again, I would choose English.