Posts filed under Interviews

Nicole Yurcaba: English Instructor

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Name: Nicole Yurcaba

Age: 32

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.


Posted on October 21, 2019 and filed under Interviews, Interview, Teaching.

Beth Zeanah: Technical Writer

Name: Beth Zeanah

Age: 24

College & Majors/Minors: Major - English: Professional and Public Writing; Minor - English: Creative Writing

Current Location: Huntsville, AL

Current Form of Employment: Full-time Technical Writer

Where do you work and what is your current position?

I currently work as a technical writer at a telecommunications network and hardware company located in Huntsville, AL. In this position, I research, develop, and write the documentation that eventually goes out to internet service providers and their customers. My content typically comes from the different engineering teams who developed the hardware and software, which I then analyze and reorganize into the customer-facing user guides.

Tell us about how you found your first job, and how you found your current job (if different).

My first writing job was a student technical writing position supporting Auburn University's Campus Web Solutions team, which a senior in my major recommended to me before she graduated. When I started looking for jobs after my graduation, I narrowed down the area I wanted to be in and started exploring various job sites for jobs in my target area. If I recall correctly, I found my current position on Indeed.com.

What was another writing-related job that was important in your career?

My first technical writing job on campus was crucial to me getting valuable experience working in a professional environment, as well as getting experience in useful software programs and tools that I wasn't exposed to in my classes. This job experience as a student set me up for a lot of opportunities and the connections I made there were very helpful post-graduation.

What did you do in college to prepare for your post-grad life?

The track for my major was fairly flexible in that I could pick and choose the classes I wanted to take as my core major related courses. As such, I was able to tailor my major track to focus on classes that developed important skills I would need if I was going to pursue writing as a career. A lot of my classes, for example, were focused toward professional and business writing, so I gained a lot experience in practical every-day writing that I still use today. A perk to these classes was that they typically included a resume and cover letter portion, which really helped me in those first few months after graduation when I was applying for jobs in earnest, because I already had developed a living resume and cover letter template. I also was able to take an editing class which, although it was one of my harder classes, was essential in fine-tuning writing skills I took for granted, such as grammar, spelling, punctuation etc. Carefully selecting my courses to strike that balance between practical classes and the more fun literature courses was key. I was able to develop useful skills I still use every day post-college, while still managing to get rich experiences in the other areas that first drew me to major in English.

“If you can, try to pick up a part-time job related to your career goals or pursue an internship. The connections and skills you develop in college can make a huge impact on your success post-graduation.”

What is your advice for students and graduates with an English degree?

As a student, take advantage of the resources your university offers you. Most public universities have career centers and writing centers, both of which can be great resources for developing those practical skills that will help when starting your career. I also highly recommend taking advantage of your professors' office hours. They may seem daunting, but having those one-on-one discussions with your professor can be a great chance to further sharpen your skills, as well as a chance to make a connection that could spark inspiration, whether that be in your course-work or for your career goals. If you can, try to pick up a part-time job related to your career goals or pursue an internship. The connections and skills you develop in college can make a huge impact on your success post-graduation. Upon graduating, don't stop learning! Always be looking for opportunities to learn a new skill or topic that can help further shape your career. Don't discount the value of creating a robust LinkedIn profile either. Spending time creating a professional space to show-off all of the wonderful things being an English Major taught you can make a big difference in landing that first (or second) job!

You can connect with Beth on LinkedIn here.


Posted on October 4, 2019 and filed under Technical Writing, Interviews, Interview.

Albert Flynn DeSilver: Poet, Author, Workshop Leader and Founder of Brilliant Writer, LLC

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Name: Albert Flynn DeSilver

Age: 50

College & Majors/Minors: University of Colorado, Boulder, Bachelors of Fine Arts-Photography, Minor in English

Current Location: School for International Training, Kenya East Africa

Current Form of Employment: San Francisco Art Institute, MFA-New Genres (writing, photography, mixed media)

Where do you work and what is your current position?

Currently work is as an entrepreneur, founder and CEO at Brilliant Writer, LLC. I teach writing & mindfulness meditation retreats and workshops internationally, write and publish books, offer online writing and mindfulness experiences, and sell digital courses and programs, all through my website at www.brilliantwriter.com/free-book and www.albertflynndesilver.com

Tell us about how you found your first job, and how you found your current job (if different).

My first job out of college was as a house painter, I then moved to California for grad school, and worked at a bookstore, being a runner at a landscaper architecture firm, guided backpacking trips for kids, and then eventually found the California Poets in the Schools program, which placed professional practicing poets in classrooms throughout California in order to teach kids about the art of writing. I found them at an art festival in San Francisco and asked how I could participate. At the time I had very little teaching experience and not a whole lot of work published, but I had ENTHUSIASM and determination. After lots of badgering, they let me do their apprenticeship training and then I got to observe numerous seasoned teachers in the classroom and soon wrote up my own curriculum. That summer a friend got me a teaching gig at in a summer program at a private school and I got to teach poetry for the first time. From there it all just blossomed into almost thirteen years of working with thousands of kids from all walks of life all over Northern California.

What was another writing-related job that was important in your career?

I think an important writing-related job was working in a bookstore, where I could imagine my book some day gracing their shelves—and a few years later my dream became a reality. Also being around books and READING all the time is so crucial for our writing. This is where we learn how to craft great sentences and get to see how other writers are perpetuating the evolution of language! 

What did you do in college to prepare for your post-grad life? 

The most important thing I did in college to prepare me for post-grad life was travel abroad in East Africa. Wow, did that ever give me perspective on my white male privilege! It really opened up my perspective to the vast diversity of the world and how important it is to take other people’s world views, experiences, and cultural traditions into account—all that we can learn and celebrate in shared humanity from people with very unique and different experiences from our own.

“Never forget the power of writing and literature to change lives! You CAN make a great living as a writer and lover of literature, you just have to stay focused, committed, and determined.”

What is your advice for students and graduates with an English degree?

For those of you who have graduated with an English degree, never give up on your love and passion for literature and writing, your big dream—of writing the next great American novel or being the next great transformational teacher of literature, or whatever it is for you. Your English degree can serve you in unexpected ways throughout your life and working career. Never forget the power of writing and literature to change lives! You CAN make a great living as a writer and lover of literature, you just have to stay focused, committed, and determined. Be creative, consider how you can leverage new technologies, and especially how you can serve others in a different way through your unique story and experiences. Cultivate community, join writing and reading groups and communities, or start your own. This is how we stay engaged and connected to our passion for writing and reading. Study the innovators and their habits. It’s amazing the kinds of writing, reading, and literature organizations (and companies) people are creating online these days, all-the-while making a great living, and a great difference doing it!     

You can follow Albert Flynn DeSilver on Facebook here and LinkedIn here.


Posted on October 3, 2019 and filed under Interview, Interviews, Teaching, Writer, Writing, Author.

Ashley Hawley: Grants Coordinator

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Name: Ashley Hawley

Age: 25

College & Majors/Minors: Baldwin Wallace University, Berea, OH Major: Creative Writing Minor: Psychology

Current Location: North Royalton, OH

Current Form of Employment: Full-Time Grants Coordinator

Where do you work and what is your current position?

I am a Grants Coordinator for Providence House, which is Ohio’s first and the longest-operating crisis nursery in the nation. We offer emergency shelter and direct care to children, newborn through 12-years-old, who are at risk of abuse and neglect, while providing case management, parent education, and trauma services to their families. Our goal is to prevent child abuse and neglect before it ever occurs by acting as a support for families in crisis who do not have those supports. I personally am responsible for obtaining grant funding to support our operations, programs, and other projects, as well as forging new and maintaining existing relationships with local foundation funders, among other tasks.

Tell us about how you found your first job, and how you found your current job (if different). 

My first job out of college was actually here at Dear English Major! I had been following this site for quite a while and decided to reach out to Alyssa Christensen to see if she needed any help maintaining the site. As a matter of fact, she did and after a bit of emailing back and forth, she brought me on to help with updating the site and Pinterest page. It was a great opportunity that allowed me to kick off my little freelancing business, which sustained me until I found a full-time position. I will always be grateful to Alyssa for being the first to give me that chance, recommending me to others for opportunities, and being endlessly supportive!

My current job came about a bit unexpectedly. I had some prior grant writing experience, but never considered it to be a career I would actually enjoy. It wasn’t until I took a contracted grant writing position and began writing professionally that I really fell in love with it. As much as I loved the work itself, the nonprofit I worked with didn’t really seem to appreciate what I was doing for them. I knew that it was time to start looking elsewhere. 

I scoured all of the job boards until I came upon a listing for a Grants Coordinator position at Providence House (just goes to show you that job boards can be useful!). The more I researched the nonprofit, the more I felt that I just had to be a part of it. I applied and began the interview process. About 2 months after I had applied, I received the call that I got the job. Fast forward over one year and, while I won’t say this job is necessarily easy, it is definitely a great fit for me!

What was another writing-related job that was important in your career?

I mentioned above the contracted grant writing position I took on before accepting my current position. While the circumstances may not have been the best, I credit my current success to this position quite a bit. I knew that if I could still love what I was doing even though I didn’t love where I worked, then this was a career path to consider pursuing. This position also allowed me to begin making connections and building skills that I have been able to bring to my current position. Most of all, it gave me an appreciation for the amount of work that goes into keeping a nonprofit afloat (and the right and wrong ways to go about that!). I know that I would still appreciate my current position without that prior experience; however, with it, my appreciation is exponentially deeper.

What did you do in college to prepare for your post-grad life? 

When I was at Baldwin Wallace, I took a grant writing course. It was by far one of the most challenging, demanding, and rewarding courses I took in my four years of college. It not only helped me stretch my writing abilities into a marketable skill and exposed me to my eventual career path, but it also allowed me to stretch my world view and become friends with people I may not have otherwise. 

“English majors can do anything we want to do; we just have to show others how we can do it.”

Overall, I feel that there was perhaps more I could have done to practically prepare for my post-grad life. I could have pursued internships with more fervor. I could have taken on more writing-related campus jobs. I could have done many things. However, this doesn’t mean that I regret the things I did do. I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason and what I did or didn’t do in college is what needed to happen to get me to where I am. This isn’t to say that things like internships and other career prep tools are not important. If you want to utilize those resources, by all means, utilize them! But, if you’re like me and didn’t do as much as you would’ve liked, don’t beat yourself up about it. The past is the past and you did exactly what you needed to do to become the person you are today.

What is your advice for students and graduates with an English degree?

My biggest piece of advice would be this: Don’t be afraid to make your own opportunities. Everyone goes into college with the belief that they are going to come out four years later with a steady career that gives them a ton of money. That’s the dream that everyone tells us to shoot for. However, it’s also not the truth everyone wants us to believe it is. English majors have it especially tough because employers haven’t caught on to how much they need you yet. The ability to communicate effectively is the single most important and necessary skill in any job, but those people who write up job postings, ironically, have yet to grasp how to communicate that they need the skills that English majors possess. So, if you find yourself struggling to fit yourself into a box employers have built, think about building your own box. Freelance; reach out to others about the skills you can offer. This will not only show potential employers that you are a self-starter, it will show yourself that what you bring to the table is valuable. Once you can value yourself, that perfect employer will value you enough to give you a shot. English majors can do anything we want to do; we just have to show others how we can do it.

You can connect with Ashley on LinkedIn here and check out her Twitter here.


Posted on September 29, 2019 and filed under Interviews, Interview, Grant Writing.

Taylor Marshall: Patient Experience Coordinator

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Name: Taylor Marshall  

Age: 25

College & Majors/Minors: The University of Akron, Bachelor of Arts in English with a minor in Creative Writing

Current Location: Columbus, OH

Current Form of Employment: Healthcare/Guest Relations

Where do you work and what is your current position?

I work at the Ohio State Wexner Medical Center as a Patient Experience Coordinator. I act as a liaison between patients, nurses, and physicians. I meet with patients and their care teams daily to ensure consistent communication during their hospitalization and also handle the coordination of outpatient concerns and questions. I like to think of myself as “the peace keeper” of the hospital. 

Tell us about how you found your first job, and how you found your current job (if different).

Life after the routine of college was a challenging adjustment. Even before I crossed the stage at graduation, I applied to countless jobs that only followed with rejection. I moved back home to Youngstown (the armpit of Ohio) and was ready to take any job if it meant moving and starting somewhere new. After eight months of constantly adjusting cover letters, sending resumes, and the same bleak responses of, “we have decided to pursue other candidates…”, I decided to swallow my pride and accept a call center job in Columbus that my cousin said he could get me in. I was hesitant, anxious, and depressed, but anything was better than sitting at home and I was eager to feel like a productive member of society again.

I endured nine months at the call center, and relentlessly searched job postings on lunch breaks and after work. I found my current job at Ohio State Wexner Medical Center posted on their career’s webpage. To be honest, I had no idea what a Patient Experience Coordinator even was, but I applied anyway since it sounded interesting enough. 

I remember making it to the second round of the interview process. The two nursing administrators were questioning me about my English degree, and were happily intrigued by it. When I did get hired, my manager told me that over two hundred people, even folks already within the health system applied for my position and they still ended up choosing me, the English major. Hearing that was the proudest I’ve ever felt about myself. I reflected on the moments of self-doubt, replaying people’s words of, “you’ll get nowhere with that field of study” and all the ridicule that came along with it. But here I am, two years later still working at the hospital and truly loving what I do. 

What was another writing-related job that was important in your career?

My current job is the only full-time position that has actually been reliant on my degree. I haven’t jumped around to anything else, and as it turns out I really enjoy working in healthcare. I would say that studying English is what really helped mold me before I stepped into the workforce. The creative writing courses gave way to a whole new appreciation for being vulnerable and accepting constructive criticism. The professors I had always chose diverse reading materials so it was interesting to gain insight to different cultural experiences and perspectives. There were plenty of discussions and applied critical thinking, and as it turns out, healthcare is the perfect field for those skills to thrive in. 

What did you do in college to prepare for your post-grad life?

Taylor and a coworker getting some ballons ready to give to patients for Heart Awareness month.

Taylor and a coworker getting some ballons ready to give to patients for Heart Awareness month.

Is it okay to say probably not enough, but everything still ended up turning out fine? I’ve always been an extremely indecisive person. I switched my major three times in college, with English of course being the final decision, and by then I was already in my third year. Most of my peers were applying to grad school, or hunting down writing internships, but I was happy as a clam working my student assistant job in the university’s archives and enjoying my classes. It’s really hard to try and decide what you want to do for work the rest of your life when you’re only 22. I often thought about the fig tree scene in Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar, and imagined all the different life paths I could travel down. Looking back at it now, I don’t think there are any steps I could have taken to prepare me for the post-grad life changes and the work/life balance of a full-time job. The comfortable routine of classes, seeing my friends every day, and knowing what to expect each semester greatly differs from my current work of responding to hospital codes to check on distraught family members, holding difficult conversations due to disruptive behavior or unfavorable news, and other real-world scenarios that I wasn’t able to experience inside a classroom. 

What is your advice for students and graduates with an English degree?

Do not let what you study define your or anyone else’s expectations of what you are going to do with the rest of your life. I wasted incredibly too much time worrying and comparing my degree to others (I had a ton of friends in the STEM field), instead of seeing its advantages. Take the time to explore any of your interests, even if they are outside of what you’re studying. It’s okay to not know what you want to do—there are a lot of jobs that I came across that I had no idea even existed (like mine!) and it might take a few to find out which one fits you best. But most importantly, just getting out there and talking to people is greatly beneficial—become a “yes” person! Meet your friends out, join a group, or attend events going on in your area. You never know what new connections you might create just by doing so. As an English major, you already have a solid foundation of communication skills—you’re the chameleon of the job market and I promise you’ll be able to adapt in any environment you immerse yourself in. Life is strange, but embrace it kindly with an open mind and a listening ear—you’ll be surprised of things you will learn. 

You can follow Taylor on Instagram here.


Posted on September 29, 2019 and filed under Interviews, Interview.

Sonya Summerville: Self-Employed Editor & Proofreader

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Name: Sonya Summerville

Age: 32

College & Major/Minor: West Chester University, B.A in Literature, Minor in Creative Writing

Current Location: Philadelphia, PA

Current Form of Employment: Self-Employed 

Where do you work and what is your current position?

I am the owner of an editing and proofreading company - SheEditsMyPaper, LLC.

Tell us about how you found your first job, and how you found your current job.

My first job was actually a work-study job in the English department on campus. I worked for a couple of hours a week, shredding previous students' papers from the late 80s and early 90s. After many unsatisfying part-time jobs, l realized that I loved editing and that I work better on my own time, so I started my editing business.

What was another writing-related job that was important in your career?

During a very hard period in my life, I began to doubt everything; going to a university for “reading” and “writing” would end up being a waste of money, and nothing would ever come out of this. Of course, I still needed to make money. I applied for a freelance writing job, writing product descriptions. I never experienced such happiness from a job and decided that writing (and editing) were the path for me.


What did you do in college to prepare for your post-grad life?

I didn't necessarily know the post-grad plan while in college. I'd be a graduating senior, with a degree in "Reading" and a minor in "Writing", assuming that I’d go home and work on the books I’d been telling people I was going to write. I did, however, understand, while in college, that I loved editing, but I didn’t know it would lead to me starting a business.


What is your advice for students and graduates with an English degree?

Some majors come with a ‘set-in-stone’ career plan. English is not one of them (in most cases). It allows you to create your own plan, but it’s easy to get off course. My advice to you is to create your own plan and commit to it. It may take a little time to get in your groove, but if it’s really what you want to do, it’ll all be worth it.

You can learn more about Sonya’s business by visiting SheEditsMyPaper.com. You can also check out her blog and connect with her on LinkedIn.


Posted on September 21, 2019 and filed under Editing, Interview, Interviews.

Brooke Kile: Director of Institutional Research

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Name: Brooke Kile

Age: 35

College & Majors/Minors: I attended Butler University in Indianapolis and started off as a music major. During my second semester I fell in love with my English seminar and decided to change my major. I graduated with a B.A. in English Literature in 2004. After five years of working in higher education I decided to go back and get my masters (bonus of working in higher education: many institutions give free tuition or have tuition exchange at the graduate level so I didn’t have to take out more loans). I earned my M.S. in Management from the University of St. Francis (IL) in 2011.

Current Location: Indianapolis, IN

Current Form of Employment: Institutional Research

Where do you work and what is your current position?

I’m currently the Director of Institutional Research at Marian University in Indianapolis. I usually tell people that Institutional Research is like the analytics/big data arm of higher education—I write a lot of sql code to query and retrieve data out of various data sources and then report out to federal or state agencies on how many students we have, their demographics, counts of students enrolled in each major, etc. A large part of my job is also taking massive amounts of data and translating it into meaningful information that helps administrators understand our students, our programs, and where we have opportunities or challenges.

Tell us about how you found your first job, and how you found your current job (if different).

After a brief stint as “Word Processor” at a consulting firm (I proofread bibliography entries... I lasted six months) I got a job in the financial aid office at a small university back in my home state of Minnesota based on my prior experience working in the admissions office during my undergrad. The financial aid job was supposed to be temporary until I went back to graduate school to become a professor. Well, that didn’t work out as planned but it was the best thing that could have happened. I discovered I really liked working in financial aid and at a college.

In 2007 my college boyfriend (now my husband) and I decided to move to Chicago. I found a job as a financial aid compliance analyst. We stayed in Chicago for 8 years and my job roles transitioned from internal staff training and policy writing to report writing using a Business Intelligence (BI) tool. I was named Project Manager for an internal BI launch in my department and that’s where I really started to get into databases, data, and reporting.

The Institutional Research thing was not part of the plan. When my husband and I decided we wanted to move back to Indianapolis, I started applying for financial aid jobs and couldn’t get a callback to save my soul. It was awful and I really began to doubt myself. It was actually one of my IT colleagues that suggested I look into Business Intelligence or Institutional Research. I started applying to those types of jobs and finally heard back from employers.

Eventually, I accepted the offer from Marian we moved back to Indianapolis in September of 2015. I’ve been in the Institutional Research (IR) area for about three years and love it.

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What was another writing-related job that was important in your career?

I was a peer tutor in college and learned a lot about helping people gain confidence in their writing abilities. Too often, peer tutoring can be a place where a student takes a paper in, the tutor destroys it with red ink, and the student goes back to make changes. I was lucky to have a tutoring director who helped us understand our job was to teach people to become confident in their writing. As a supervisor, my job is to help my employees gain confidence in their skills and abilities.

I also spent a good five years writing internal policies and procedures for my financial aid/bursar office. This helped me hone my skills of balancing policy language with practicality for implementation. I wish I could say I mastered the skill but it really is an art. If I had to go back and do it again, I’d cut out 50% of the words. Less is always more.

“My professors were always challenging me and along the way I learned how to challenge myself. This has been one of my biggest assets as a professional. A challenge is an opportunity in disguise.”

What did you do in college to prepare for your post-grad life?

The narrative pre-recession (2008) was much different. There wasn’t this intense focus on immediate outcomes and the return on investment of a college degree being measured by your first paycheck. I had to graduate in three-and-a-half years due to finances so I was more worried about graduating in college than I was about what would happen afterwards. I think my jobs in the admissions office and in the writing center helped tremendously when I started applying for jobs, but when I started out I was applying for administrative assistant positions. I had no idea how to brand my skills or even what English majors did (aside from going to grad school).

I did, however, take my studies very seriously. I tried to stretch myself on assignments, took risks, and put a lot of effort into coming to class prepared. It’s paid off in the long-run as I feel more comfortable now taking risks and stretching myself in my professional work. My professors were always challenging me and along the way I learned how to challenge myself. This has been one of my biggest assets as a professional. A challenge is an opportunity in disguise. I’ve been successful because I don’t shy away from a challenge and can instill confidence in others that it's a worthwhile endeavor.

What is your advice for students and graduates with an English degree?

Pragmatic advice:

Find a practical niche in your studies like taking one or two courses on technical writing, grant writing, copy editing, writing in healthcare, etc.

Volunteer your writing skills out to a local non-profit or charity. You’ll learn something about a specific industry (including their lingo) and how to translate your skills into something outside of academia.

Life advice:

Read. Never underestimate the power of being well-read.


Posted on November 3, 2018 and filed under Interviews, Interview.

Paris Kim: Content & Social Media Manager

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Name: Paris Kim

Age: 26

College & Majors/Minors: B.A. in English, concentration in Creative Writing

Current Location: San Francisco, CA

Current Form of Employment: Content Management for Wish, Editor-in-Chief of Marjorie Magazine

Where do you work and what is your current position? 

I currently work in content management for the Ecommerce app Wish, a growing shopping platform with over 150 million worldwide users. I am also the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Marjorie Magazine, a vintage lifestyle magazine coming onto its third print issue this spring.

Tell us about how you found your first job, and how you found your current job (if different). 

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My first job was a lucky break after just graduating from the University of San Francisco. I spent all summer indulging myself in creative DIY projects with designing notebook covers and typewriting my own prose, and it was put to great use during my time as a creative workshop captain for Paper Source's Fillmore Street location. All of us who worked there even got to design and display our own greeting cards made in-house, and shoppers were always asking about them. A year after working for Paper Source, I wanted to move up into the field of marketing, where I landed an internship with a small web interface startup called myWebRoom. Six months after writing copy for their products and their blog, I was approached by my current company, Wish, to help build and moderate the content on the app as well as launch and moderate their social media.

Having worked in San Francisco and surrounded by tech-talk for four years now, that is when I decided to create in March 2017 my own online publication and print magazine, Marjorie, devoted to vintage lifestyle in the modern world. I love vintage, from fashion to music and design, and naturally I wanted to find an outlet to write about these passions while connect with other like-minded creatives. When there was none to be found, besides small niche communities on Facebook and Instagram, I realized that I had to make it myself.

What was another writing-related job that was important in your career? 

Freelancing in between my time at Paper Source and myWebRoom really helped propel me into the right direction in terms of what I wanted to achieve with my writing. Simply looking for opportunities on Craigslist opened doors into what sort of writing jobs were out there and which ones made the most sense for my style and background.

For a time, I also branched out to open mics across San Francisco and connected with poets to share my old typewritten prose, to which I realized that was not for me. I also found out about the incredible world of self publishing and began to publish my own books via Blurb featuring my poetry and personal essays. I still use Blurb to this day for Marjorie. It's a great start to building your portfolio and learning design, or just getting your work out there; you don't have to wait around for the big publishers at Penguin or The New Yorker to deem your book readable—if you have a story and you put social media and your networking to use, you're always guaranteed devoted readers, no matter how big or small, that will want to read, that will want to buy and invest in your talent.

What did you do in college to prepare for your post-grad life? 

I landed an exciting opportunity to intern for McSweeney's, reading submissions and fact-checking articles for their sister publication The Believer, while also volunteering as a tutor for grade-school students over at 826 Valencia. The interns even had monthly meet-ups with Dave Eggers himself—it was quite surreal! I was given the chance to pitch my own stories for both McSweeney's and The Believer, for the latter actually being commissioned to interview my favorite band, The Airborne Toxic Event, who happened to be in town that spring. Even though the editors ultimately passed on the final piece, they were helpful in providing alternative places to get it published and even referred me over to editors at The Rumpus. All of the ups and downs in my internship and college years spent as an English major were documented in my personal blog at the time, Paris Kim Writes.

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What is your advice for students and graduates with an English degree? 

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My advice is simply to put your passions to paper, write it out, whatever IT is. A small idea, random words, just as long as you're still devoted to your words and ideas and never lose sight of these things that make you unique as an English major. And take charge of your resources. In just a few years from my Craigslist-surfing days I discovered a multitude of places to connect with other writers and find new opportunities for work. There's Shut Up and Write on Meetup, which are weekly sit-ins with other local writers at a cafe or elsewhere to just sit together and write; there's plenty of Facebook groups advertising freelance work and great media to apply to and get feedback; and of course, there's always open mics, for you never know who might be lurking in those crowds. The support is there, and I've listed a few, and it's there for you to take and know confidently that there is always something exciting waiting for you and your work on the horizon!

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Posted on May 7, 2018 and filed under Content Marketing, Social Media, Interview, Interviews.