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.

What Are Your Tips for Participating in #NaNoWriMo? [SURVEY]

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Calling all National Novel Writing Month veterans!

We are putting together a guide to help NaNoWriMo participants hit their November writing goals, and we need your expertise. If you have some helpful advice to contribute, please take a moment to share your thoughts in the form below. Your answer may or may not be included in an upcoming blog post.

Below, you’ll find a few questions to consider in your response. However, keep in mind that these questions are just here for inspiration and there’s no need to necessarily answer any/all of them!

  • What should participants do to prepare for November?

  • What are your time management strategies?

  • How can you stay motivated after November to finish your project?

  • What type of support is out there for NaNoWriMo participants?

  • How did you benefit from participating in NaNoWriMo?

  • Who should consider participating in NaNoWriMo?

  • What was the biggest challenge you encountered during NaNoWriMo? (How did you overcome this challenge?)

Name *
Name
I give permission to have my name and response included in a blog post on DearEnglishMajor.com. *
Please keep your response to 200 words or fewer.

Thank you!

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Posted on October 23, 2018 .

Elizabeth Enochs: Staff Writer at Mercy For Animals & Freelance Writer

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Name: Elizabeth Enochs

Age: 27

College & Majors/Minors: Southeast Missouri State University: BA degree in English-Writing with a minor in Small Press Publishing; Three Rivers College: AA degree in English.

Current Location: Long Beach, CA

Current Form of Employment: Staff Writer at Mercy For Animals and freelance writer on the side

Where do you work and what is your current position?

I’m a staff writer at Mercy For Animals, an international non-profit animal advocacy organization dedicated to preventing cruelty to farmed animals and promoting compassionate food choices and policies. I also freelance for a few websites, like POPSUGAR, and I’ve had pieces published in Bustle, AlterNet, Girlboss, and a few others.

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

I found my first freelance writing job through my cousin. A friend of hers from high school, who grew up in the same small Missouri town that we did, ended up moving to Manhattan and getting a managing editor job at Complex, a New York-based website focused on youth culture. I emailed her my resume and samples of my work, but I remember feeling so nervous about the whole thing that I almost didn’t reach out to her. I had no idea what I was doing, or how to pitch an editor, so I just winged it. Shortly after that, the editor got back to me and asked if I could write articles about new technologies, like smart homes and apps. I knew almost nothing about tech at the time, but I took the job anyway. Less than a week later, I turned in my first paid writing assignment. My editor loved it!

I found my current job through an editor I worked with at Bustle. Shortly after she was hired at Mercy For Animals, she called me to see if I would be interested in applying for the staff writer job I have now. It wasn’t as easy as answering the phone though—I went through an application process that spanned several months, and I had about six interviews before I got the job. I also did a ton of research to prepare. The summer before I got the job, I watched every documentary about factory farming that I could find. Then I moved to Los Angeles so I could pursue my current job even more seriously. To hold me over financially, I freelanced for several websites and secured a paid editorial internship at Girlboss, a Los Angeles-based media outlet. Incidentally, that internship made me an even more desirable candidate for my current job.

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

I wrote for Bustle — a feminist news and lifestyle website — for almost three years, and I feel like that job launched my career in many ways. I learned so much about essay writing, pitching, and journalism during my time there. I learned how to interview sources, how to report on an event, how to write a profile piece, and I spent countless hours researching everything from women’s health to solo travel to politics. I often joke that working for Bustle was like going to graduate school, except they paid me. Writing for Bustle enabled me to move to Brooklyn for a while, which was an incredible experience and career move. Perhaps more importantly, Bustle is where I met my current supervisor.

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

Not enough. Don’t get me wrong, I worked hard in college—I graduated from my university’s honors program and I completed an internship in small press publishing as well. I also worked throughout college so I wouldn’t owe an exorbitant amount of money when I graduated. But college didn’t really teach me how to get a job, how to pitch an editor, how to network, or how to use the internet to get writing jobs. Everything I learned about writing and pitching in college was exclusive to academic and fiction writing, so I felt very unprepared for the real world after I graduated college.

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

The internet is your friend! Whether your specialty is writing, editing, or even teaching, get online. Even if you don’t find a job to apply for right away, you’ll probably learn something. Take advantage of whatever connections you have, and don’t feel bad about it. Be afraid to take risks, but do it anyway. Study the people you admire, or people who are doing the kind of work you want to do—research how they got to where they are now, and try to apply their tactics to your own life. Be prepared to work really hard, but also take time to rest so you don’t burn out. If you think you might find more success in a bigger city, and you have close friends living in that city, see if you can stay with them while you look for jobs. Most importantly, don’t give up. You’ve got this!

You can read examples of Elizabeth’s work here, connect with her on Twitter here, or follow her on Instagram here!


Posted on October 15, 2018 .

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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Links:


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