Intern Post, Nicole Dunlap: The Job Market for English Majors

jobsearch

I graduated from ASU in 2010 with a degree in English Literature (truth: on my resume, I leave off the “Literature” part). A little less than one year later, I got a job at an environmental consulting company where I have grown to be the sole editor of the small, 60-employee firm.

I originally applied to be a “Word Processor” via their Craigslist post. A lot of people are shocked to find out I found my steady, full-time, full-benefits employment through a website known for its scams. When job searching, I still check out Craigslist as well as LinkedIn, Monster, and other sites. You come to recognize the scams on Craigslist, and have to be okay with many of your applications likely going nowhere.

Here is what I’ve learned in my years since graduation.

If you want to work with words, regardless of how boring your job is, the money seems to be in the Technical Writing field. My only regret from my education is not taking a course or two in technical writing. I, for one, am totally okay with having a boring job. (Note the difference, I am not unhappy with my job, it’s just not the most exciting work in the world). I made that distinction when I graduated; separate the enjoyment I find editing (work), from my investment in writing and poetry as an art form (passion). Boring as my desk job may be, I still find great satisfaction in knowing that, because of my work, some small fraction of the words going out into the world read well and look nice. Give me the boring for eight hours a day so I can pay my bills and have the free time to develop my passions.

Technical editing, what I do for Transcon Environmental, is also in some demand. What I’ve found, though, is that you need to have another skill-set or area of expertise to fall back on. I happen to be incredibly organized—almost to a fault—so when my editing is light, I function also as the Administrative/Executive assistant for the company. You will market yourself better if your writing/English degree is the backbone for your other talents and skills. And don’t discount your liberal arts education (I highly recommend David Foster Wallace’s commencement speech about the value of a liberal arts education); these four years at university have turned you into a well-rounded, disciplined, learned individual. Everything you’ve learned in school, every way you’ve grown and the traits and habits you’ve developed should be included in your resume/cover letter/application process.

There are places to put your English degree to use outside of academia. I have been introduced to the environmental consulting and urban planning industry. In order for utility companies to build and alter their infrastructure, they need consultants like us to ensure they are complying with federal and state laws (among other things). We produce reports based on our research and field surveys, these reports get circulated through federal agencies, tribal nations, land management companies, etc. I never knew such an industry even existed, let alone that they produce numerous reports that, through rounds of revisions, get signed-off on by the government so that construction companies have to follow the mitigation we outline in the report. It’s important that these documents are thoroughly proofread, wordsmithed, and clean of technical errors. Just because you like to work with words doesn’t mean you’re stuck in the academia or publishing worlds.

The job search process is frustrating, disappointing, and sometimes heart-wrenching. Be prepared for this. Build a thick skin now, in preparation. I lost count of how many jobs I’ve applied to over the years. I recently relocated and, before being offered to transfer and stay with Transcon, I was applying back home on the east coast to around 10–15 jobs per week. I applied for things I was over-qualified for, under-qualified––anything––I just wanted a lead. Resumes, once formed, are easy and don’t change much. Cover letters, on the other hand, is where your time and effort should be invested during your job search. Try to make yours stand out from the rest. Show your potential employer you are serious about the job; show them you’ve done your research by doing things like including their physical address on the cover letter, or alluding to details on their website. Explain how you, as a person with your own individual personality traits, would benefit their company. Don’t rush through customizing your cover letter. The job search takes time and commitment, just like class assignments; try to respect it with the same level you’d respect an assignment. Your resume should highlight your work experience, your cover letter should highlight your personality traits, and NEITHER should be intended to get you a job. Your resume and cover letter get you an interview; your performance in the interview gets you the job (no pressure).

Try not to get frustrated during your job search, don’t discredit or doubt your English or liberal arts education, be persistent as you apply for jobs (I called my current employer every week for months until my position with the company was firm). Sell yourself and what you have to offer. Write your cover letter, walk into an interview with the attitude that it is the THEIR loss if they don’t hire you.

2015 Internship Opportunities for ASU Students

Superstition ReviewInternship Opportunities with Superstition Review 

Are you an ASU student interested in the field of publishing? Do you wish you could get marketable job skills while earning college credit? Do you like to have a little fun while you learn? Then an internship with Superstition Review is right for you. All work is done completely online through Blackboard, Google Docs, Skype, and email. I welcome interns from all fields, but especially from creative writing, literature, web design, art, music, film, and business.

About Superstition Review
www.superstitionreview.com
superstition.review@gmail.com

Superstition Review is the online literary magazine produced by creative writing and web design students at Arizona State University. Founded by Patricia Murphy in 2008, the mission of the journal is to promote contemporary art and literature by providing a free, easy-to-navigate, high quality online publication that features work by established and emerging artists and authors from all over the world. We publish two issues a year with art, fiction, interviews, nonfiction and poetry.

We also enjoy honoring all members of our Superstition Review family by maintaining a strong year-round community of editors, submitters, contributors, and readers through our social networks:

Blog: http://superstitionreview.asu.edu/blog
Facebook: http://facebook.com/superstitionreview
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/SuperstitionRev 
Google+: https://plus.google.com/+SuperstitionReview
iTunes U: https://itunes.apple.com/us/itunes-u/superstition-review/id552593273
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/company/superstition-review
Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/superstitionrev
Tumblr: http://superstitionrev.tumblr.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/SuperstitionRev
YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/SuperstititionRevew 

Spring 2015 Trainees

Trainees will register for a 3 credit hour ENG 394 course in Spring 2015. The course will offer a study of the field of literary magazines; it will introduce students to the processes and practices of a national literary publication, and it will include review and reading of contemporary art and literature. Students will be encouraged to create their own literary brand that will help make them more marketable for publishing jobs. ENG 394 students are paired with current interns and are encouraged to attend SR outings such as local literary events, and also volunteer events with UMOM, Free Arts AZ, and our creative writing collaboration with Combs High School. Upon successful completion of ENG 394, trainees will enroll in ENG 484 in Fall 2015 and become active interns with the magazine. (The internship is not available for First-Year students or ASU Online students.)


What Former Interns Say:

  • Trish provided valuable experience in my field of interest that is not offered anywhere else. This class has been a huge eye-opener for me and I feel so lucky to have had the opportunity to work in the publishing and editing industry before graduating. The skills I learned have given me a huge amount of confidence as I begin my search for a job, and I’m so glad this course was available. Trish is enthusiastic, knowledgeable, and very trusting of her students. Although all the work for SR goes through her, she allows for students to take some control and engage in the work fully. Thanks for the wonderful experience!
  • I really enjoyed this course and found it to be one of my favorites taken so far at ASU. I feel like the instructor taught me a lot and really challenged me. The class was well structured and I always felt as though I knew what was expected of me, but what I like was that within the structured assignments there was a lot of room for me to work independently and complete assignments in my own way. I would recommend this course and others by this instructor to friends.
  • Trish is extremely personable and is great at making people feel welcomed and she listens very well to her students.
  • Trish is extremely accessible and welcoming. I felt very comfortable coming to her with questions, even if they seem stupid. I feel I got a great internship experience that will help me post graduation.
  • Very organized, and even though it was an online class, the instructor was always willing and available and kept in contact through email.
  • I was able to learn so much about publishing, editing, and running a magazine. There were always tasks that could be completed that were never regarded as busywork. Patricia is very knowledgeable, friendly, respectful, and encouraging. She truly values the work of her students and her students themselves just as much, if not more, as we value her teaching and her.
  • Very personable and involved with the students as to what is going on in their academic and personal lives.
  • Trish is very knowledgeable in what she does. She’s technologically savvy, and very educated in literature and the arts, as well as aware of current happenings in the modern literature and art world.

Please follow us on our social networks:

         

Guest Post, Andrew Galligan: A Job Program for Eighth Graders

“poem” by Pankaj Kaushal is licensed under CC by 2.0

Poetry reviews written by poets are the worst. Of course, not ALL of them are the worst. But many of them are.

I’ve read plenty of poetry reviews, whether in-hand when picking up a new book or online when considering a purchase from a new author or the latest release of one whose work I admire. They are laudatory, very often contain sweeping flourishes of language, and may attempt serious contemplation and honest appraisal of the work inside. Some are as insightful and illuminating as a buyer would hope, but to me the body of them feels esoteric, exaggerated and, at their worst, repetitive.

To illustrate, I pulled eight books of poetry off my living room shelves. These are actual rear-cover reviews of published books of poems written by other poets (titles and author names are redacted). The first three fall into the all-too-common category of “poetry about poetry”:

  • In (this book), we’re banging along the Baja of our little American lives, spritzing truth from our lapels, elbowing our compadres, the Seven Deadly Sins. Maybe we’re unhappy in a less tragic way, but our ruin requires of us a love and understanding and loyalty just as deep and sweet as any tragic hero’s.
  • (She) isn’t afraid to write metaphor to test the voice – that poor arrow – or to try to write beautiful lines…A reader will be reminded of the beautiful motions of the mind
  • …what a flawless understanding of gravity…this is a work of profound daring, written by a spirit deeply aware of the ultimate cost of beauty, and the endless human thirst for, and dependence upon, surfaces…

Of course a book of true poetry cannot be complete until a few additional poems are appended to its back in the form of reviews. Here’s a book of poems…since you may have some trouble understanding at first, the publishers have helped by attaching 2-4 meta-poems to explain what’s inside.

Next, when surveying the reviews I found that several writers were unparalleled and quite necessary:

  • His achievement, above all, is to make something precious out of the sad jetsam of experience…No one conjures the holy ghosts of the commonplace like (him).
  • One of the finest poets of this century, his work will in due course be widely recognized for its excellence.
  • (this book) is the achievement of a young poet writing in the full measure of her powers.
  • He is one of our premier anatomists of contemporary American life, a wildly refreshing, necessary poet.
  • This is our beautiful glimpse of forever. (Her) (book) is a harrowing, necessary work.

Whoah. Better get started. Lots of required reading.

Finally, I came upon a review where the poet writes the poet-y-est thing ever:

  • (This book) is an unignorable book…The feeling behind it is painful, but exquisitely so. Pain made into art or what, in another time, people called ”‘beauty”

In case you missed it, that was pain, art AND beauty. A poet’s trifecta.

Much of what you see above is just empty accolades for the writer. It’s certainly a big deal to finish a book and have it published – no dispute there. All active writers understand this challenge. But praise for the writer – dealt in spades by peers – says nothing of the content. And far too often, as we have seen, attempts at the content result in a poeticized review.

It could be the form of the review tempting poets into such impregnable, overwrought summations. A typical review is short in length and aims to address a broad body of content. Though epic strokes aren’t required, the review writer does have to deduce and distill, and in those few words represent in some way an entire work. This task is not unlike that of writing a poem – a genre set apart by focus, by its economical and muscular employment of comparative device in capturing our experiences.

The problem here of course is that a review is supposed to help someone decide to read the book. It’s a sales tactic, but a worthwhile one if executed with the reader in mind. It should supplement the impression of a work the reader gets if he or she decides to peek inside the pages for a few minutes. If the review of a professional poet is more beautiful and intricate than the work inside it purports to sponsor, the curious reader is done a disservice. How the hell could they decide in a few minutes if this book is worth their sixteen bucks?

And I am not arguing for accessibility. Though great writing is often great for the lucid simplicity of plain language (I think of James Wright), folks in the trade of language appreciate its entire spectrum. Art that confronts with mystery, curiosity and confusion mimics the experience of everyday life. Art’s logic is not that of science or philosophy or mathematics. If you’ve ever felt your gently startled body shake and settle in exhale at the end of a poem or story (or movie) that struck you, you’ve experienced this sense-making. If you want to talk accessibility, send Billy Collins a tweet.

The conventions I observed in poetry reviews affirm two things: 1) reactions captured in a particular review are often less sincere for their facile deployment of tic tacks from the toolbox of review writing, and 2) the review as a form is a mechanism not to deliver the insight and persuasion it promises a potential reader, but to document the professional connections among writers. It’s the original LinkedIn for poets. Congrats! T.S. has endorsed you for synecdoche!

Here’s the thing: that network of poets and poetry is small. Its practitioners are few, and by and large, its readers are also the practitioners. To praise poetry with poetry, I believe, is to close the circle even tighter. So that’s why I propose that eighth grade students write all reviews of published poetry. Talk about an outsider’s lens! Students at that level are equipped to elevate a sense of narrative from publishable poetry, and have a burgeoning eye for metaphor as well. They’ll skip over the parlor games and inside jokes (we all do them), and take the writing seriously so long as it can be believed. That is the best test. And the early, deliberate (paid hourly? ☺) exposure will at minimum stretch that circle of poetry a little bit wider, and get kids along with the rest of us making connections we never would have before.

Guest Blog Post, Renée K. Nicholson; DIY Arts Entrepreneurship

Renée K. NicholsonIn January of this year, I received an email from the professional social media site LinkedIn telling me my profile was in the top 10% of all viewed profiles in 2012. What surprised me most about this email is that I really had no idea how that happened, or what it really meant. As a writer, book critic, dance critic, ballet teacher (retired dancer), literary podcaster, journal founder, former marketing professional, and rheumatoid arthritis advocate—among other things—I felt like my profile was a jumble of stuff. But what a friend explained to me was that my profile told a story. She went on to say that my story, as told by LinkedIn, defied the one-dimensional logic of the resume, and that my on-again off-again participation in a few very focused professional groups on the site continued a narrative that located me in a community.

But what community?

Before we get to that, there are a few things you need to know.

1. First, as I was growing up, my father worked for IBM. He was a top salesperson, and then recruited into the highly selective Executive Education program, established by IBM’s founder, Tom Watson. But while working in Executive Education, a new project was developing in the Entry Systems Division, and my father was one of the first 40 people to join this project. People told him it would be his “career ender.” The project he’d been recruited for was called the Personal Computer.

2. As a young person, I trained to be a ballet dancer. Although my career was cut short by the onset of rheumatoid arthritis, I’ve enjoyed the opportunity of performing in what’s called “the corps de ballet” or a ballet company. A ballet company is like a family, and although in popular depictions, the rivalries are often the point of focus, it’s the community of artists coming together that truly defines the dancing experience. In that way, it’s unlike writing, a solitary art, one that I’d find only after my short dancing career passed.

3. During my married life, I’ve owned, with my husband, two houses, both of which have been improved through fairly extensive DYI home upgrades. The cost savings of doing the work ourselves (and by ourselves, I really have to say that my husband did almost all of it himself), we not only increased the value of our home, but we had complete control (for better or worse) of the process of making our home a better, more beautiful dwelling in the way we wanted it to be.

All three of these things come together, for me, as an artist looking to make my way through the world. The artist’s path is not easy. As Jim Hart, Director of Southern Methodist University’s Arts Entrepreneurship program said at a conference that posted a YouTube video of his speech, most artists find themselves on the over-saturated path where there are a few traditional, commercially-viable opportunities for which there exists a large audience competition for these resources. This rings true—there are only so many books the big New York publishers take a gamble on compared to the number of novel manuscripts; in the dance world, there were only so many people the ballet companies could absorb, and many dancers talented enough to fill those spots. Rejection is high and even the lucky breaks don’t always amount to making a living, Hart reminds us.

So, what to do?

Shaped by my experience, I believe a few very specific things. Like my father, sometimes you have to take risks to earn rewards—to think off the beaten path to success. I also believe that there is value in community, which was forged in the corps de ballet. And finally, I believe that some things can be done without the aid of (so-called) experts and professionals, in the DYI fashion, giving us an alternative to the modern consumer culture.

The professor and retired entrepreneur Greg Watson defined entrepreneurship as “the creation of value often through the identification of unmet needs or through the identification of opportunities for change.” What, more than art, provides value and opportunities for change?

We often consider value in monetary terms. Of course, we all need to cover our expenses for our survival and comfort. But can artistic value be measured in other ways? I think yes, and I think one of the best ways is through community building.

In the summer of 2012, I started a fledging project with another writer—a book podcast. We chose a book, read it independently, and then recorded our discussion and posted it on the Internet and through iTunes. SummerBooks has grown from a handful of listeners to thousands of hits in less than a year. I don’t even think it has hit its full potential yet. Marketing has been low-budget—via social media, like that LinkedIn profile I started with, and Twitter. The feedback I’ve received on the podcast, however, suggests that writers and readers were, in fact, looking for community. Presses and authors approach us about reading their newest books; listeners often contact us when they hear us discuss a book and then decide to purchase and read it, too. More than anything, SummerBooks has challenged me to be in dialogue with the community I care about: writers and readers.

At its essence, SummerBooks is fueled by a passion for books. It’s two women in West Virginia who are either brave or stupid enough to share in that conversation.

Late last year, a former student from teaching English 101 in my graduate school days approached me about starting a literary journal. A recent graduate in poetry from the prestigious MFA at Columbia, this student had spent a few years after the program figuring out what was next. Of course, I agreed to help, not only because I have a terrible time saying “no” to such projects, but because I saw it as an opportunity. Souvenir emerged as a result, a journal not only serving writers, but opening up to other art forms and informed criticism. Nascent as still is, the response by both contributors and readers far exceeds, already, our hopes for the publication.

It would be fair to criticize these efforts as not being financially viable; at this point, both ventures create value in ways other than monetary. But the frugal DYI approach makes them both cost effective and alternative to consumer culture. And there are some more established examples to point to: Brad Listi’s Other People podcast or the online literary community The Rumpus, which includes two different book clubs. Of course, others too. I’m not privy to what these endeavors do commercially, but their ability to coalesce communities of writers can be easily seen and joined. By engaging in these, one can be “in company” with other literary artists.

With the developments presented by e-books, the changing perception of self-publishing, the rise of hybrid publishing and ability for more people to engage in small press publishing, the opportunities for arts entrepreneurship for writers has never, perhaps, been greater. The work is hard, but it’s there to be done. And I’m not sure we’ve even begun to see and understand all the ways new technologies will manifest opportunities for literary artists. It’s all scary, as change can be, but also exciting.

My interests, above all others, is to invest in the building of community. I’ve figured out the ways in which to earn (eek out?) my living, and so my passion resides in finding ways to connect. Because if social media has taught us anything, it’s that we yearn for connection. Bringing people together through the arts seems to me one of the best ways for that yearning towards connection to become the catalyst for community.

There’s always risk in entrepreneurial ventures. But also reward. When IBM’s entrepreneurial project, the PC, became such a success, the same people who had once chided my father about taking that risk later asked if he was hiring. How do we know if the risk is worth taking? I don’t know that I have any better advice on that than anyone else, but I think it has to do with hard work and faith and just a gut feeling. Learning, perhaps, to trust our instincts. That DYI credo of the success or failure squarely situated in ourselves, rather than listening to all those who gate-keep, who say, “no.”

If it weren’t for that top 10% LinkedIn email, I might never have thought about DYI Arts Entrepreneurship. But, thankfully I have. And perhaps some of you reading this will get the germ of your own idea, expanding and growing the ideas behind the proliferation of literary or other art. Because if the world is full of art and artistic community, it’s also full of possibility.

Summer Interns, Fall Trainees

Superstition ReviewCall for Summer Interns and Fall Trainees, Superstition Review 

Are you interested in the field of publishing? Do you wish you could get marketable job skills while earning college credit? Do you like to have a little fun while you learn? Then an internship with Superstition Review is right for you. We are currently accepting applications for Interns in Summer Session A and Summer Session B, and Trainees for Fall Session C. All work is done completely online through Blackboard, Google Docs, Skype, and email. I welcome interns from all fields, but especially from creative writing, literature, web design, art, music, film, and business.

Superstition Review has published 10 issues featuring over 500 contributors from around the country. Each spring and fall we take submissions from established and emerging writers and produce an issue full of dynamic Art, Fiction, Interviews, Nonfiction, and Poetry.

Summer 2013 Internship

Students will register for a 3 credit ENG 484 course in Summer 2013 (there are two sessions: A=May & June and B=July & August). Students will gain experience with the processes and practices of a national literary publication. While we don’t produce an issue in the summer, we do maintain an active presence on our Blog, Facebook, Goodreads, Google+, iTunes, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Tumblr, and Twitter accounts.

Application for Summer Interns.

Fall 2013 Trainees

I am seeking trainees for the online literary magazine Superstition Review. Trainees will register for a 3 credit hour ENG 394 course in Fall 2013. The course will offer a study of the field of literary magazines; it will introduce students to the processes and practices of a national literary publication, and it will include review and reading of contemporary art and literature. Students will be encouraged to create their own literary brand that will help make them more marketable for publishing jobs. Upon successful completion of ENG 394, trainees will enroll in ENG 484 in Spring 2014 and become active interns with the magazine.

Application for Fall Trainees.

What Former Interns Say:

  • Trish provided valuable experience in my field of interest that is not offered anywhere else. This class has been a huge eye-opener for me and I feel so lucky to have had the opportunity to work in the publishing and editing industry before graduating. The skills I learned have given me a huge amount of confidence as I begin my search for a job, and I’m so glad this course was available. Trish is enthusiastic, knowledgeable, and very trusting of her students. Although all the work for SR goes through her, she allows for students to take some control and engage in the work fully. Thanks for the wonderful experience!
  • I really enjoyed this course and found it to be one of my favorites taken so far at ASU. I feel like the instructor taught me a lot and really challenged me. The class was well structured and I always felt as though I knew what was expected of me, but what I like was that within the structured assignments there was a lot of room for me to work independently and complete assignments in my own way. I would recommend this course and others by this instructor to friends.
  • Trish is extremely personable and is great at making people feel welcomed and she listens very well to her students.
  • Trish is extremely accessible and welcoming. I felt very comfortable coming to her with questions, even if they seem stupid. I feel I got a great internship experience that will help me post graduation.
  • Very organized, and even though it was an online class, the instructor was always willing and available and kept in contact through email.
  • I was able to learn so much about publishing, editing, and running a magazine. There were always tasks that could be completed that were never regarded as busywork. Patricia is very knowledgeable, friendly, respectful, and encouraging. She truly values the work of her students and her students themselves just as much, if not more, as we value her teaching and her.
  • Very personable and involved with the students as to what is going on in their academic and personal lives.
  • Trish is very knowledgeable in what she does. She’s technologically savvy, and very educated in literature and the arts, as well as aware of current happenings in the modern literature and art world.

Applications are open January 31 and will be accepted until positions are filled.

Please follow us on all of our social networks:

         

Go Forth and Tweet

With Issue 9 approaching, we’ve deployed our social networking teams to take to the web and spread the word. We’re forging new connections with our readers, authors, writers, and other literary journals.

We have a goal. We want to reach 1,000 likes on Facebook and 1,000 followers on Twitter. But we can only do it with your help.

We aren’t very far off from that goal, so to increase our fan base, we’re taking to the streets. We need our loyal readers (that’s you) to take to the internet and go forth and tweet.

We want to do something special for our 1,000th fan on Facebook and Twitter.

Whoever is the 1000th Facebook visitor and the 1000th Twitter visitor will get a special feature on our blog, Facebook, Google+, Twitter, and LinkedIn pages. For writers and artists, this will be a great way to get your name out there for everyone to see. For students, this is a great way to build your resume. We see thousands of visitors each week from all over the world and you will have the attention of each and every one.

So go forth and tweet.