“What Will You Do with that Major?” Part 3
I spoke with students who have graduated from or who are currently enrolled in the same publishing program that I am to see where our differences lay and what other avenues are available beyond the ones that I’ve been pursuing.
There are so many specialties that a student in publishing can learn: copyediting, magazine writing, production, design, marketing, publicity, social media. It’s not a one-type-fits-all industry by any means. Graduates can pursue books, magazines, or electronic mediums, and they can also choose to go into nonfiction, children’s or young adult, business, educational, or other niche publishing. They can also get involved with literary agencies and other businesses that are involved in the process of approving and marketing content for publication.
Nicole Lewis graduated with a bachelor’s in English and a minor in substance abuse and addiction from the University of North Texas in 2012, and she is now in the graduate publishing program. She’s currently working as a freelance writer/editor and has an internship with Rubin Pfeffer Content, a literary agency for children’s and young adult books. She previously worked at an educational publishing house as a copyeditor, which started as an internship and blossomed into a full-time opportunity.
“No matter what, always be grateful and courteous to your employer because a good recommendation can potentially make up for any lapses in your skill set,” says Nicole. She believes this piece of advice is key, and I agree with her. Attitude, passion, and excellent samples and recommendations can help bridge the gap between the qualifications an employer is looking for and the ones you have.
Stephanie Pando is in her final year of the Publishing program, and she earned a bachelor’s in English (Creative Writing) from the University of Central Florida in 2012. She currently works as a Marketing Assistant at Candlewick Press, a children’s book publisher. Prior to her current position, she interned with MIT Press, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, and Candlewick, and she also worked in the Global Marketing and Communications department at Emerson. She also holds the position of Head Proofreader for the graduate literary magazine Redivider.
“I deal with a lot of promotional development, so it’s fun to figure out clever marketing ideas and decide with the publicists on posters, press releases, themed swag, and more for the books each season,” she says.
For those interested in working in marketing or in children’s publishing, she suggests that you learn to meet deadlines as early as possible. Customer service and people skills are also necessary because you’re always dealing with authors, agents, illustrators, booksellers, and other publicists.
Tracy Campbell graduated in 2011 with a bachelor’s in Creative Writing and a minor in Spanish, and she is now in her first year of the publishing program. Tracy previously worked as a copyeditor for a technology company, but she realized that she wants to provide editorial services for a publishing house. She notices that many people don’t realize how necessary writers and editors are in all industries, and this may lead to the stigma surrounding the profession. “So many people don’t realize that every company needs writers — they don’t think about who drafts all the emails they get or the websites they go to,” she says.
Ari Choquette finished her bachelor’s in English in 2010 and then earned her master’s in Publishing in 2014. She’s now the Design and Tech Specialist for Bibliomotion, a book publisher that focuses on business and parenting books. She works on eBook quality assurance and distribution, art direction for book jackets, website maintenance, and designing marketing collateral. She also does freelance work for the Harvard Episcopal Divinity School and for self-published authors.
She says that a working knowledge of publishing is useful in the job search, as well as experience with Adobe programs and using PDFs.
Ari stresses that trying different paths is one way to decide what you’re looking for in a career. During her undergrad, she interned at a library working in the archives and writing historical articles. “I thought I was going to be a writer, but through work on the literary magazine I realized my real passion is helping other people get their work out into the world. And now I get to do that every day, which is pretty cool,” she says.
Regional Planning Graduates
Regional Planning students can create careers as regional and urban planners, local government officers, estate agents, civil service administrators, historic buildings inspectors, conservation officers, landscape architects, environmental managers, and more.
Ashley Eaton received her bachelor’s in Regional Planning in 2013 with minors in History and Geographic Information Systems, and she went on to get her master’s at Portland State University in Urban and Regional Planning with a specialization in Land Use Planning. She’s a post-graduate intern in Regional Planning at Metro, Portland’s regional government. She says, “I work on a number of different projects including using data and storytelling to capture the pulse of the region on topics like housing, jobs, research on trail lighting, and background research on an update to the regional transit strategy.”
In terms of practical skills, Ashley has found that GIS and Adobe Creative Suite have been extremely useful, as well as being skilled at writing, communicating, researching, and data analysis. Ashley has completed five internships in the planning field, which she says not only helped her gain experience but also assisted her in refining her career goals. The internships also helped her remain competitive as she applied for master’s degree programs in the industry.
Ola Smialek graduated in 2015 with a bachelor’s in Regional Planning with minors in Writing and Women and Gender Studies, and she is now pursuing a master’s in Regional Planning at University of Massachusetts Amherst. She’s also working as a Research Assistant for the Center of Economic Development at UMass. What she enjoys most about the field is how interdisciplinary it is. “By understanding the nuances in planning, I have learned to be flexible, to adapt and trouble-shoot, and to remain resourceful. I also have to remain prepared to take on research and analysis at all times,” says Ola.
Ola previously interned at the Westfield City Hall Planning Department, and she says that this experience combined with her current assistantship helped her take her passion beyond the classroom. “What they have given me is experience, increased knowledge, and a sense of confidence because what I learned in the classroom I was able to apply elsewhere,” she says.
“Planners try to find solutions to almost every real world problem through planning and its related fields. As a future planner that is extremely empowering,” she adds. While she was an undergraduate student, Ola worked on a year-long honors thesis that focused on low-income women’s access to public transit in the Greater Springfield, MA area. She wants to focus on social policy and cultural landscapes in her career as a planner.
Women and Gender Studies Graduates
Graduates in Women, Ethnic, and Gender Studies can find careers in almost any area, including human services, human rights organizations, journalism, victim and survivor advocacy, nonprofit and social justice work, law enforcement, library science, rape crisis centers, domestic violence shelters, public health education, social work, and more.
Casey Anne Brimmer studies Women’s and Gender Studies in the graduate program at University of Northern Iowa and graduated with a bachelor’s in Ethnic and Gender Studies in 2014. Casey Anne works as a graduate assistant in their academic program, including serving as a teaching assistant for an LGBT+ Studies course. During undergrad, Casey Anne interned with Young People For and helped build grassroots social justice movements nationwide. Casey Anne hopes to eventually teach in the field of sexuality/gender through an intersectional social justice lens — which is why Casey Anne’s internships in social justice movements have been so helpful.
“I love working for justice, in small ways and big ways,” says Casey Anne. “Mostly this is through education — of others and myself. Acknowledging that there is still more work to do and more people to work with, educate and/or be educated by, is a beautiful understanding that keeps me motivated to working for a brighter and better future.”
Choose a major that you’re passionate about, and the rest will come later.
Among all those whom I spoke to, there were a few common themes. Everyone was extremely passionate about their chosen field(s) of study, and they were happy with their choice to follow their dreams. They also all advised that students take time in college to look into different areas that they’re interested in through internships/co-ops, volunteering, campus activities, community work, and classes. If students are exposed to the various areas in their field, they can more accurately decide what they want in their future career.
I wasn’t surprised by any of this. As an English graduate and a Publishing student, I’m often faced with hard questions about career options from people who aren’t exposed to these industries. It can be exhausting to answer “What kind of job will you get with that?” for four years and another two during graduate school. But I know I made the right choice — not just because I found a career path that I love, but because I learned how to dream.