Posts filed under Job Search Resources

How to Navigate Your Job Search in 21 Days

The first year out of college can be a tough one for any graduate, not only those with English degrees! But rest assured, English majors: your skills are indeed practical and sought-after by many employers. We’re not saying that finding these awesome jobs will be easy, but there are PLENTY of things you can do to successfully navigate the job search process!

There are a few crucial tactics you need to know in order to make a smooth transition from studying Shakespeare and Steinbeck to full-time employment, and From Graduation to Career Ready in 21 Days: A Guide for English Majors will guide you every step of the way in 21 days. 

Each of the 21 days outlined in this book is packed with important information that will help you to stand out and set yourself up for success!


Week 1

We’re not gonna lie—Week 1 is intense. Do some yoga. Light a candle. Keep calm. Prepare yourself to work hard and kick some serious butt in the job search and application process. By the end of this week, you will have transformed from a brand new college graduate into a viable job candidate with the resume, portfolio, and wardrobe (yep, we go there!) to prove it. 

Here’s what this week looks like:

  • Day 1: Do your research. 
  • Day 2: Look the part. 
  • Day 3: Create a resume. 
  • Day 4: Collect your writing samples.
  • Day 5: Own your online presence.
  • Day 6: Create an online portfolio.
  • Day 7: Connect with alumni.

Week 2

Roll up your sleeves and make a cup of coffee (or two, or three…). Week 2 is filled with exciting stuff, and this is the week you’ll choose your first three jobs to actually apply for. By the end of this week, you’ll have resumes, cover letters and writing samples that have all been meticulously and thoughtfully tailored to the jobs at hand. Resist the urge to cut corners, and do your best to give this week 100%—not only are you trying to successfully land your first full-time job, but you’re practicing and honing skills that you’ll use for the rest of your professional life!

Here’s what this week looks like:

  • Day 8: Get organized.
  • Day 9: Choose the right jobs to apply for.
  • Day 10: Research the jobs you’re applying to. 
  • Day 11: Tailor your resume for Job #1.
  • Day 12: Learn how to write a cover letter. 
  • Day 13: Compile job application #2. 
  • Day 14: Compile job application #3.

Week 3

This week, we begin with officially submitting those three applications you’ve toiled away on. Take a moment to enjoy and appreciate what you’ve accomplished, but then it’s back to work! You’ll be preparing for interviews and learning how to make yourself a more appealing job candidate. 

Here’s what this week looks like:

  • Day 15: Hit the “submit” button and officially apply!
  • Day 16: Plan your follow-up strategy.
  • Day 17: Prepare for interviews.
  • Day 18: Practice answering interview questions.  
  • Day 19: Review the basics.
  • Day 20: Keep learning and bulk up your resume.
  • Day 21: Congratulations, new professional!

You worked super hard for four solid years to complete your English degree, and you deserve the chance to show off those hard-earned skills at a job you LOVE. You have what it takes. Are you ready?!

Posted on April 23, 2015 and filed under Articles, Featured Articles, Job Search Resources.

Building Your Professional Website & Online Portfolio: 13 Things You Need to Know

If you’re pursuing a career as a professional writer, having an online portfolio is an absolute must. When we say “online portfolio,” what we mean is a website that showcases your work, the same way you would in a binder of newspaper clippings (does anyone do that anymore?!).

Having an online portfolio allows you to direct potential employers to a single, permanent space where your work will always be accessible. It won’t get ruined in the rain and it will never go out of date (if you update it regularly, that is!). Even more importantly, it improves your professional online presence and creates a platform on which to market yourself, which is really what finding a job is all about. Plus, it shows how tech-savvy you are—a huge selling point alone!

There are so many online tools available, many of which are even free. But regardless of which one you choose, consult our expert checklist below to ensure your online portfolio is polished, professional and effective!

Relevant domain:

  • Having your own domain name doesn’t cost much and it shows that you are serious about being a professional! Use your own name, a business name, or a short phrase that reflects your goals. Remember, it’s all about marketing yourself and creating something memorable.

Aesthetically pleasing design:

  • Treat the design of your website as part of the portfolio itself. You want to show potential employers and clients that you have some web skills, but don’t worry—this doesn’t mean you have to become a web developer or a coding expert. Many designs are already built for you, and you have the option to customize them if you want. Also keep in mind that what is ‘hip’ in design is constantly changing. You don’t want a site that looks like it was built in 2005—things have come a long way since then.

Professional headshot:

  • Making a good first impression with a professional headshot is crucial. Think of it this way: you’re the product you’re trying to market! This doesn’t mean you have to be a model, but getting your photo taken by a professional photographer—or even a friend with a great camera—is an investment you won’t regret! You can use this headshot in countless places, and it might be the first impression someone has of you and your brand. Lots of writers skimp on this, but it is absolutely crucial to your online image and the way you will be perceived. If you don’t care about representing yourself well, then how well will you be able to represent someone else?

Your resume:

  • Whether listed directly on the site or provided as a PDF, including your resume offers an excellent way for potential employers to get a quick picture of your experience. Even a link to your LinkedIn profile is a good option.

Portfolio:

  • This one is obvious at this point, but if you are going to bother making a website, then it needs to showcase your work! (You’d be surprised at how many professional websites lack this…) Include photos of completed projects, samples, screenshots, links, videos—whatever you have! It’s best to include a caption with each piece that at least details when it was created and what your contribution was.

Contact info:

  • You don’t have to give away your soul here—a simple e-mail address that you regularly check will suffice! We definitely recommend against sharing your address online unless it’s an actual office and you want people to find you.

Optional:

Description of services:

  • If you’re looking for freelance gigs, then you’ll want to include a list of your services and a brief description of each. Some freelance professionals choose to list their rates and fees directly on the site, while others prefer to keep that information confidential until they speak with a potential client directly. Either way, it should be clear from visiting your site what you do!

Testimonials:

  • If you work with freelance clients, then this is a wonderful way to show off your street cred! Of course, some people take these with a grain of salt (who would post a bad review of themselves on their own website?) but it does show that you’ve worked with real people.

Dead pages:

  • Oops! How did that happen? Test every link on your page—it doesn’t look very professional if you send someone to your portfolio and an important page is broken.

Unfinished design:

  • Don’t send anyone to your site unless it’s completely finished! Once you start a page, finish it.

Out of date information:

  • Did you get a new e-mail address? A new job? Have your work responsibilities changed? Is 2008 the last time you made an update? It’s a good idea to give your portfolio a glance every few months. Consider adding a website updating schedule to your calendar.

Faulty links:

  • Unfortunately, links to other websites do become inactive, and when they do, there isn’t anything you can do about it. But don’t let that deter you from including them on your site. Just be sure to test the published links periodically.

Spelling or grammatical errors:

  • You may be a writer or an editor, but you’re still not perfect. Call in a favor from a co-worker or ask a friend to proofread the text on your site—the last thing you want is for a potential client or employer to catch an error when you’re the one claiming to be the grammatical expert!

No matter where you’re at in your career, an online portfolio is not only a huge professional asset, but it’s also a super convenient way to get your name out there! Creating one may feel like busywork, but trust us, the investment will pay off.

Need some inspiration? Check out the links below for some of our favorite online portfolios (all from Dear English Major contributors!):



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10 Ways to Stay Productive While You’re an Unemployed Writer

The job application process can often feel like a full-time job itself. Between searching online for postings and tailoring your resume and cover letter, it’s downright exhausting! It’s hard to know how long you’ll be searching for that perfect job, too—it could be a week, and it could be months.

Despite the uncertainty, one thing is for sure: you don’t want to look back on those days as lost time. Make the most of your freedom by continuing your education, exploring yourself and working on your professional persona.

Here are some super productive self-improvement activities you’ll wish you’d done once you’re back in the nine-to-five saddle:

Take a class.

Any professional writer will tell you that it’s important to be diligent when it comes to improving your craft. Tons of nonprofits, community colleges and other universities offer great continuing education courses that will keep you on your toes, and now is a great time to pursue something you didn’t have a chance to do in college! It’s also a great idea to take a class on something non-writing-related to supplement your writing skills. This could could be web design, graphic design, coding, WordPress, HTML, etc. Employers love seeing applicants who are actively working to grow their skill set, and it’s important to bring a wide range of skills to the table. Refreshing your skill set is something professionals should always be doing; there’s a reason why many companies require and offer continuing education for their employees. The industry is always evolving and there’s always something new to learn.

Keep learning (for free!).

If you’re strapped for cash or unable to find the right classroom opportunity, consider looking online. There are tons of high quality educational resources on the internet these days, including online classes, video tutorials and downloadable ebooks. The best part? Many of them are free! Interested in technical writing? Check out this Wikiversity course. Dreaming of a career in journalism? Poynter News University has hundreds of free resources for emerging journalists. And for all things blog-related, CopyBlogger and ProBlogger offer some of the best content in the industry. Don’t let this list limit you, though. Google will be your best friend here.

Read.

Read books, read newspapers (yes, these still exist), read long-form pieces online, read poetry, read, read, read. After all, great readers make great writers! It’s also important to add some books on writing and grammar to the mix—keeping yourself fresh and reviewing some of those tricky rules will make you a stronger writer and employee

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Reach out to alumni.

College alumni networks are there for a reason. Many alumni from your college are willing—and even eager—to help graduates from their alma mater. Invite them to coffee, ask their advice, request a referral (some companies reward employees with a bonus if they help identify a new hire), and see if your college’s career center can offer any recommendations for connections or resources. That’s what they’re there for!

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Volunteer.

Know you should be doing that mysterious thing called “networking” but not quite sure how to start? Volunteering is a great way to get plugged into your community and a new social group. Sometimes volunteer positions turn into jobs, but even if they don’t, they offer a great way to serve, learn and meet people. If nothing else, the experiences you have are sure to result in some excellent writing material!

Create a personal website.

As a writer, you will be asked again and again to provide examples of your work in a portfolio, and you can be sure that potential employers will be Googling you as soon as they receive your resume! To be seriously considered for many positions—especially freelance gigs—you absolutely need an online portfolio. Most include a brief “About Me” section, a resume, contact information, and a selection of work that you feel best represents you. Plus, having a personally-designed website proves you’re skilled with digital media tools, a must for all early career writers. Check out our tips on how to get started and what to include with your portfolio!

Connect with writers in your area.

Meetup.com is an excellent resource for connecting with like-minded people in your area, especially if you’ve recently moved. There are thousands of writing-related groups registered on the site and chances are there’s one near you. Becoming part of a local writing community isn't just a great networking opportunity—the camaraderie and support you’ll receive from other writers can be a huge motivation boost too. Perhaps most importantly, many of these groups give you the chance to solicit feedback on your work, which is crucial at any stage of your career.

Contribute to online publications.

Even if you’re not paid, as a writer, getting your name in “print” is a huge asset. The next time you’re perusing your favorite blogs, take a look at their submission guidelines. Many mid-sized online publications receive a lot of their content from unpaid contributors. You’ve got nothing to lose by giving it a try! Plus, even if your work doesn’t get published, learning how to pitch story ideas will be a huge asset to you down the road. (That said, remember not to sell yourself short. Don’t take an unpaid opportunity unless you feel you’re the one benefitting from it the most!)

Join professional organizations in your field.

Just like joining a local writing group, becoming a member of a professional organization plugs you into the social scene in your desired field. Even better, most professional societies offer assistance to job seekers, and some even have job listings right on their websites. Consider signing up for their email newsletters to get info about events and job opportunities right in your inbox! Here are just a few that might interest you: Society of Professional Journalists, American Copy Editors Society, Society for Technical Communication, American Marketing Association, Social Media Professional Association, Grant Professionals Association.

And last but not least…

Write for fun.

Now is the perfect time to work on that novel, poetry collection, personal essay, or blog! Of course, it’s important to pursue your passion for writing for your own personal satisfaction, but it’s also a great way to bulk up your portfolio and provide writing samples to potential employers.

Don’t let unemployment be your “lost period”! Developing yourself professionally is a lifelong process and at this stage in your career, the world is your oyster. Take advantage of the wealth of information available to you in the digital age and don’t be afraid to connect with others in your industry. Keeping busy and productive won’t just make your unemployment experience more enjoyable, it will probably make it shorter, too!

What are your ideas? We want to hear from you! Share your thoughts in the comments here or over on our Facebook page.


Alyssa W. Christensen lives in Seattle and is the founder of Dear English Major. Her full-time freelance career consists of providing writing, editing, and marketing services to small businesses. When Alyssa isn't helping businesses improve their online presence, she enjoys exploring Seattle's culinary delights with her fiancé, catching up on her favorite blogs, and working on her latest craft project. 


Grace Heerman is a Seattle-based writer, editor, journalist and blogger. Published in print and online, she has written everything from news reports to feature stories to in-depth research articles to recipes. She’s currently working as a Blog Coordinator, but when she’s not putting pen to paper, Grace is likely cooking up something delicious, perfecting her dancing warrior pose or listening to NPR. Read more of her work at www.graceheerman.com and check out her daily photo blog.



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Posted on May 29, 2014 and filed under Articles, Featured Articles, Job Search Resources.

The Nitty-Gritty on Getting a Job: The 5 Things Your English Professors Don't Teach You

The first year out of college is a tough one for every graduate. For the first time in our lives, we are forced to define success for ourselves, without syllabi, rubrics or grade reports to guide us.

Rest assured, English majors: Your skills are indeed practical and sought-after by many employers! But there are a few crucial tactics you need to know in order to make a smooth transition from English class to employment. And chances are, your English profs won’t teach them to you.

Read on to find out how I made it over the unemployment hump, and how you can do so quickly and in one piece!

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Starting the Search: Avoiding Scams & Knowing Where to Look

Thanks to internships and part-time jobs, you’re probably familiar with the whole job application drill. But actually finding the right jobs to apply for can be tricky. Here’s how to get started:

Craigslist, LinkedIn and Indeed were my go-tos in the trenches. Each has its pros and cons, but together they’re a triple threat.

LinkedIn and Indeed are best if you’re looking for full-time work. Each allows you to customize your search by location, industry, desired salary, experience and more. But unlike LinkedIn, which only displays postings from companies that are registered on their site, Indeed aggregates listings from thousands of websites, including job boards, newspapers, and company career pages.

Craigslist on the other hand shines in the diversity of its listings – if you’re looking for interesting local projects or part-time and/or freelance opportunities, Craigslist is your best friend. Keep in mind, though, that you won’t find as many legitimate full-time offers there.

As with any Internet forum, beware of posts that seem half-baked or offer minimal explanation of the open position. If the description is convoluted or appears thrown together, chances are the company isn’t one you’d want to be working for. Any full-time job posting worth your time should include:

  • The name and a brief description of the employer. For the most part this applies only to Craigslist. It sounds like a no-brainer, but being able to vet the employer is crucial for weeding out scams.

  • A clear explanation of job duties. Titles like “Marketing Associate” and “Communications Coordinator” are vague and mean different things to different companies. Make sure the position you apply for is actually one that will move you in the right direction career-wise.

  • A detailed description of the skills desired/required.

  • The position’s duration (i.e. contract, part-time, full-time or freelance).

  • A few words about compensation. This doesn’t necessarily mean an exact number, but it’s important to know whether the position is salaried or paid hourly, and whether it’s eligible for benefits such as health insurance and paid vacations.

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Being Prepared: Put Those Organizational Skills to Work!

Juggling multiple classes, jobs and extracurriculars has no doubt taught you to be organized and proactive. Take advantage of those skills in the job search! If you haven’t already, make a list of your best writing samples and create a searchable index of the topic, publication and publish date of each piece (Excel and Google spreadsheets are great for this). If most of your work is saved on your hard drive, organize it in easily accessible and clearly labeled folders. If you’ve been published online, compile a list of links.

This may sound tedious and unnecessary, but I promise it’s worth it. Job opportunities come up unexpectedly and they get snatched up just as fast. The last thing you want is to be overlooked for a great position because you didn’t submit your application fast enough.

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Being Present Online: Creating a Killer Portfolio

I can’t stress enough the importance of having a strong, unified online presence while on the job search; for creative professionals, online portfolios are the business cards of today. Not only do they prove to potential employers that you’re familiar with digital media – a must for nearly every early career writer – but they also ensure that your clips are accessible at a moment’s notice. Plus, they’re easily sharable on social media sites like Twitter and Facebook, and you can add your website’s URL to your email signature.

When it comes to creating an online portfolio, you’ve got lots of options. If templates and step-by-step instructions are your thing, consider using Clippings.me, Pressfolios, or Contently. Each of these sites is free and will get you set up with a basic portfolio in as little as a few hours. Their style and content display options are fairly limited, but they’re easy to use and well known in the industry.

If you’re a DIYer, I’d recommend WordPress or Squarespace. These guys require a bit more legwork, but they give you tons of options for theme, color, style and layout. Don’t let the learning curve intimidate you! There are oodles of tutorials available on YouTube and WikiHow. Plus, knowing how to use them will look great on your resume.

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Quality Over Quantity: Resisting the Machine Gun Approach

Every career counselor says this and I’m here to tell you that in my experience, it’s absolutely true. Though you may feel compelled to fire off your resume in all directions, this isn’t a wise use of your time. Your chances of success are infinitely higher if you take the time to tailor (and I mean seriously tailor) your application materials to the job description. (Read our article about how to craft a stellar cover letter and resume.)

Learn as much as you can about the company you’re applying to, the management and the job duties. Tune in to the tone and voice on the company’s website. Try to get a sense of the company culture. Put yourself in the hiring manager’s shoes and add some personality to your application.

Yes, this approach takes time. Don’t be surprised if you’re spending upwards of four hours on a single application, especially if you’re soliciting feedback before you submit. This is normal, and I promise your hard work will be worth it!

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Being Intentional: Deciding Where to Draw the Line

In addition to tailoring your applications, it’s a good idea to direct your energy toward a specific area of the writing industry rather than attempting to be a jack-of-all-trades. This can be tough when you aren’t quite sure what you’re looking for, and it’s completely understandable to want to keep your options open. But in my experience – in the job search and elsewhere – in order to take the next step, you’ve got to know what the next step is.

Decide what area of the writing world you’d like to enter – retail copywriting, marketing copywriting, editing, blogging, technical writing, proposal writing, social media management, etc. – and dive into it. Do your research. Make a list of the specific skills these employers are looking for and read up on what it’s like to have a job in the field. In short, have a clear understanding of the industry and what you can bring to it.

Hesitancy and unpreparedness will come through in your application and turn employers off. On the flip side, knowing how you can contribute to a company and being able to articulate it in your application will move you to the top of the pile.

This doesn’t mean you need to choose the direction the rest of your career will take. You can always change your mind, and you probably will! But for now, it’s important to see your first job as a short-term goal and approach it systematically.

You Can Do It!

Your early 20s can be a stressful, confusing and uncertain time. Figuring out where best to direct your energy is a constant learning process – for all adults, not just recent grads! And unfortunately, no one is going to tell you whether or not you’re doing it right.

But by knowing where to look for jobs, presenting yourself well to employers, and being intentional about the choices you make in the application process, you can avoid heaps of unnecessary stress and make your transition into the professional writing world much more seamless.

Recently employed? What skills did you need to land your first job?


About the Author

Grace Heerman is a Seattle-based writer, editor, journalist and blogger. Published in print and online, she has written everything from news reports to feature stories to in-depth research articles to recipes. She’s currently working as a Blog Coordinator, but when she’s not putting pen to paper, Grace is likely cooking up something delicious, perfecting her dancing warrior pose or listening to NPR. Read more of her work at www.graceheerman.com and check out her daily photo blog.


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Posted on April 22, 2014 and filed under Articles, Featured Articles, Job Search Resources.

What GIRLS Can Teach English Majors About Post-Grad Life

For those of you who haven’t seen the award-winning HBO show GIRLS, here’s a quick rundown: GIRLS details the 'real-life/fictional' experiences of four twenty-something besties living in NYC. Season 1, Episode 1 sets the whole story in motion: Hannah— our fellow English major and the main character— receives a special visit from her parents when they drop some awesome news on her:

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Hannah’s mom: We’re not going to be supporting you any longer.

Hannah: But I have no job…

Hannah’s mom: No, you have an internship that you say is going to turn into a job.

Hannah: But I don’t know when…?!

Hannah’s mom: You graduated from college two years ago, we’ve been supporting you for two years, and that’s enough.

And there we have it. In the following episodes and seasons, poor English major Hannah learns some lessons the hard way so you don't have to. 

LESSON 1: People will try to take advantage of you and your skills.

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Unpaid internships suck. Especially when you're like Hannah and have been at it for over a year with zero compensation. In a world where jobs are scarce and competition is stiff, many graduates (with the safety net that many millennials' parents can offer) take unpaid internships with the hopes that they will turn into real jobs. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don't, but either way, a lot of these unpaid internships are actually illegal. (I obviously cannot provide anyone with legal advice, but it doesn't hurt to do some digging on your own and while you're at it, check out the U.S. Department of Labor's page on internships).

However, that being said, sometimes taking an unpaid gig or volunteering can provide valuable insight into work environments and various fields. You just have to make sure that what you're doing is really worth your time. And now it's time for a lil' pep talk: as a graduate with an English degree, remember that you have real skills to offer: writing! editing! creativity! oh my! Not everyone can write, and not everyone can write well. Don't lose sight of that fact. You've spent hours and hours honing your craft in and out of the classroom. Whether you're freelancing or starting your first gig, remember: charge what you're worth, don't do things for free or "for fun" because "you're a writer" and you "enjoy it anyway." No, no, no. Writing is a business, and treat it like that.

LESSON 2: You need real skills. (Writing and editing just ain't gonna cut it no more.)

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"Whoa whoa whoa, I thought you were just saying WRITING IS A SKILL?!" Thanks for that stupid, meaningless pep talk. 

Ok. Writing totally is a skill. But to start with, you need to have some real world experience, like working in teams, learning to work well in office environments, and all of that other stuff that goes into making you a fancy professional. After all, you're not always going to be staring at a Word doc.

In Season 1 of GIRLS, Hannah approaches her boss at her (unpaid) internship and basically tells him that it's time to get paid. She was hoping that since Joy Lin was hired after being an intern, her time might be coming, too. Her boss says something along the lines of, "Well, Joy Lin knows Photoshop". Hannah begins to obsess over the fact that she doesn't have any skills, which finally brings us to the real part of Lesson 2:

You need real skills. Are you familiar with WordPress? Do you know the ins and outs of Facebook? Do you have a working knowledge of Photoshop? Are you able to easily switch between Mac and PC computers? (You may laugh, but Hannah struggled with this at her first job.) Can you effectively implement SEO strategies into your web copy? Can you translate the thoughts of a business owner into copy for the homepage of their business website in the 'voice' of the brand? These skills are only the beginning of a long list of things employers routinely expect and assume to find in their piles and piles of job applications... in addition to strong writing skills. And even then, what sets you apart? Yeah... getting a job can be complicated.

LESSON 3: Discipline will absolutely-100%-I-promise improve your life.

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Discipline is really uncool, but without discipline, I promise your LIFE will be really, reallllllly uncool. Might sound stupid and obvious, but it's true and worth pointing out. In Season 2, Hannah gets an e-book deal, procrastinates on her 'word count' deadlines, has a mental breakdown, and basically ended up needing to write an entire novel in one hour. Then she chops up her hair and stabs her ear with a q-tip because she goes insane. See what will happen if you fail to improve your life with DISCIPLINE? Then, in Season 3 of GIRLS, Hannah turns 25 and starts growing up! She is finally buckling down and staying on schedule with her e-book deadlines. Yay, Hannah! Success is surely in her future (as a result of her newfound discipline. See a theme here? (Or at least a corny fortune cookie quote?)).

Time management is super important and is a big part of this discipline thing for us writers. Whether you're a full-time employee for a corporation or a self-employed writer, not meeting deadlines is absolutely not cool. Buy a calendar and actually write things in it. No, seriously. You are so successful and have so many magazine deadlines and meetings with editors and literary agents that you WILL eventually forget something. Something important.

Also, you probably already know this, but waiting until "creativity strikes" or you're "feeling inspired" is also a really bad way to run your writing career. Sometimes you have to put pen to page and finger to key no matter what. But that's discipline.

If all of these things sound really undoable and terrible to you, then the writerly/editor-y path is probably not for you. Being an English major isn't for wimps. 

LESSON 4: Don’t be afraid to take a non-writing job.

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After all… what are you going to write about if all you’re doing is writing?! Sure, there are those 9 to 5 jobs that require us to write about pre-determined subjects. But then there are those things in life, like Hannah's memoir, that require her to be out actually living that memoir-worthy life. And this is where having a job that is totally unrelated to writing is awesome!

After an unsuccessful stint as some kind of office assistant, Hannah ends up working as a barista at Grumpy's. Hannah hates it, she's not very good at it, and based on her calculations, probably makes about $40 per day. But this is how she pays some bills while also getting to meet Mr. Handsome Doctor Neighbor and gets lost in Patrick Wilson World for an entire episode, during which she has some great revelations. 

Anyway, I digress: try not to feel like a failure if you take a non-writing, non-dream job after college. Seize the opportunity to have a new experience.

And perhaps the most important thing of all: networking! How are you supposed to network with other professionals who may need your writing services when you are only working with OTHER WRITERS?! Working at a totally unrelated job gives you a great opportunity to meet people who know people who know people --> who might need a writer one day. And voilà— it's time for you to get some business cards!

LESSON 5: Don’t underestimate the power of a ‘real’ job.

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A lot of creative-types are scared of becoming a dirty good-for-nothing sellout. Whatever your definition may be of this, get over it. A 'real job'— the supposedly soul-sucking 9 to 5 kind— is also the kind of job that offers you healthcare, paid time off, a 401k and if it's a good company with your best interests in mind, even more! (Free snacks and stock options, anyone?!) These are all great things because everyone gets sick and old and enjoys going on vacation while continuing to get paid. 

But for some reason, in Season 3, Episode 6 of GIRLS, Hannah totally turns her nose up at her fellow co-workers at her new grown-up gig at GQ:

Hannah: “...I’m not really trying to make a name for myself. I mean, I just kind of want to get in, get out… I’m like, no offense, just like a writer writer, not like a corporate, advertising, working for the man kind of writer.”

Joe: “Who is?”

They proceed to list each others literary successes— Kevin’s a published poet with awards from Yale, Karen’s published some pieces in n+1, and Joe has been published in The New Yorker

The conversation continues, and Karen laments the plight of the self-employed (if you want to stretch the term) purely 'literary' writer: no health insurance, no dental insurance, and no corporate gym membership. I could elaborate more, but I think you get the point.

Hannah: “But you all still write, like your own pieces and stuff, right? Like your own spiritually fulfilling work?”

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And again, this is where the discipline comes into play. Joe tells Hannah that she can write after work, and on the weekends. And you know what? He is so right. Sometimes getting home and writing again after a long day of writing, oh I don't know, descriptions of ugly discount lawn décor is HARD, but ya know,

you have the same number of hours in a day as Beyoncé, so get to work. 


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Posted on February 21, 2014 and filed under Articles, Featured Articles, Job Search Resources.