Former Superstition Review Intern Returns to Relate the Work/Life Balance

Brooke StevensonYou may remember me, SR readers, as the former intern who wrote a post in Summer 2012 about my early years navigating the “real world.” When I left off last year, I mentioned that I still freelance for one of my internship mentors as a break from my technical-focused day job (proposal coordinator for an engineering firm). I appreciated the creative outlet, and still do.

 

I’m here to tell you that side gigs are all well and good, but there’s something to be said for a work/life balance—especially for the college student or recent graduate. I remember being so caught up on preparing for my next assignment, paper, test, or final, that when I graduated, I thought I’d have more time in the day. Instead, I continued to fill my day planner without even thinking about it.

 

So, finding time for personal writing projects and other leisure activities has only become more difficult. I write out weekly goals, and somehow, those activities always get pushed to the bottom of the priority pile. There’s always something to do.

 

When I set out to write this post, I realized how much I looked forward to writing my post last year, and again, how much I looked forward to it this year. I have plenty of incentive when I know I’m writing a piece that will be followed by a 1099 Form at the end of the year. So, I thought, what makes this blog post so motivating?

 

For me, writing this post feels like leisure time, but it is also a commitment that I made to SR. It sits on the line between recreation and responsibility, so that I can’t just brush it off as something I might get to later. Ultimately, it’s a personal thing.

 

Even as an intern, contributing to SR has never felt like “work.” And, taking time to browse the pages within helps me put aside my day planner for a bit. Nothing causes me to pause like a good literary magazine! I mentioned in my last post that I try to focus on humility and embracing the big picture that there is always room to grow. I’m learning that growth doesn’t always come with a paycheck or a packed schedule.

 

Like many people, I found myself moving from one obligation to the next, catching moments out of the corner of my eye. Starting today, returning the balance ranks higher on my to-do list.

Former SR Intern Brooke Stevenson Speaks Out about the “Real World”

I have an English degree, and I’m a proposal coordinator for an engineering company. How in the (real) world did that happen?

When I told people I was majoring in English, the response was usually, “Are you going to teach, or work at Starbucks?” I have neither the patience nor tact for teaching. I’d scream every time a student wrote about a dream or heaven forbid, a vampire. Maybe I just really hate vampires. Maybe I wanted to defy every person who ever said an English degree was only for future baristas of America.

I graduated college three years ago. I worked on the first Superstition Review issue with Trish and she directed my committee for my Barrett Honors College thesis. My premise? I don’t really know anything! That principle hasn’t really changed to this day. It sounds pessimistic at first, but it’s actually become a mantra for personal success.

I’m 25, and smack dab in the middle of an age group known for being brash. So, I feel that I can grow as a person by acknowledging and honing the few things I do know (in comparison to all the things there are to know in the world). Basically, I hope to avoid the pitfall of becoming another foolhardy, unemployed, 20-something of the Millennial generation.

I had five editorial internships in college and still didn’t have a “real world” lead when I graduated. I thought I wanted to go into publishing, but the job well was dry at the time. My internship mentor suggested marketing positions; sometimes their descriptions are similar to editorial work. This was some of the best advice I ever received, and I found several comparable options.

The one that stuck out to me was this engineering firm. I looked at their website and saw a company that designs roads, builds museums, encourages sustainable energy options, keeps water and shorelines clean. I wanted to be a part of this. I walked into the interview and said, “I don’t know anything about engineering. But, I do know words, and I know them well.” I proved it with an editing test, and got the job.

My title is “proposal coordinator.” I write, edit, and produce proposals detailing my company’s qualifications for completing a project. From designing wastewater treatment plants in California to expanding ports in Florida, I create books aiming to persuade clients that we are the right team for the job. I work with a project manager to develop the text and design an interesting, effective document. The engineers provide the technical know-how, and I provide the understanding of English and a creative eye. It’s the perfect symbiotic relationship for two people who know their respective topics. The projects range from a few thousand dollars to a few million, and help us intelligently plan for using/replenishing Earth’s resources well into the future.

I still freelance for one of my mentors, writing pieces for local magazines. It’s a nice creative outlet when the technical talk starts to take over and I need a break. I’ve approached the “real world” a lot like I approached college. Humility and embracing the big picture that there is always room to grow has served me unbelievably well, and I’m grateful for every day that I’m gainfully employed at my job. Plus, there aren’t any vampires.