Intern Updates: Brooke Stevenson

We are pleased to feature Brooke Stevenson, a Poetry Editor all the way from the very first Superstition Review issue! Having graduated from ASU with a degree in English Language/Literature and a concentration in Creative Writing, Brooke currently works as a Senior Proposal Content Specialist at Atkins, a company specialized in engineering and design. She has been at Atkins for ten years and counting, and she not only remains skilled in editing, but also in marketing communications. An amazing transition!

If you’d like to learn more about Brooke’s accomplishments, you can visit her LinkedIn page here.

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.

Meet the Interns: Jessica Swanson, Web Design Team Manager

jessicaswanson_0Jessica Swanson is a Senior at Arizona State University majoring in English with a concentration in Creative Writing.

Superstition Review: What do you do for SR?

Jessica Swanson: As the Web Design Team Manager I oversee projects for the Blogger, Web Developer, and Photoshop Editor. I initiate or remind the members of upcoming projects as well as assist them with certain projects or questions. During the past few weeks the team and I have begun a rebuild of the SR webpage which I am extremely excited about. This includes redesign the fonts, colors, and layout of the site as well as creating a new banner that will represent SR during the release of the fourth issue.

SR: How did you hear about or get involved with Superstition Review?

JS: I have had a few classes with Trish in the past and had heard about Superstition Review a few times. Since it is my last undergraduate semester at ASU I thought this would be a great opportunity to gain some hands-on experience with this online literary publication.

SR: What is your favorite section of SR? Why?

JS: I am a fiction girl so I would have to say that section and the art section are my two favorite areas of SR. I primarily write fiction so I am drawn to that section just from a personal bias, and I am always fascinated by artwork and, therefore, attracted to that section.

SR: Who is your dream contributor to the journal? Talk about him/her.

JS: Well he has already contributed to the journal, but I would really love to see a piece of fiction by Sherman Alexie. He is a very diverse author/poet and I find his work extremely influential in my personal life. I have a deep respect for him as a Native American author and would love to meet him one day.

SR: What job, other than your own, would you like to try out in the journal?

JS: I would really like to be a fiction editor (big surprise) or possible work for the marketing team.

SR: What are you most excited for in the upcoming issue?

JS: I am very excited about the re-design of the SR website. My team has been working very hard these past two weeks to get this up and running by the fourth launch and I am extremely excited to see the final result.

SR: What was the first book you remember falling in love with and what made it so special?

JS: Well this wasn’t really one of the first books that I ever fell in love with, but this was the first book that made me cry. I remember being in elementary school and reading Where the Red Fern Grows, probably for pleasure and not as an assigned reading. I was home alone and it was an overcast, early winter day. I sat in an oversized plush chair in the living room, curled up with my feet underneath me. As I read the novel I became overwhelmed by what I was reading, never having read something quite like that at my age. I cried and cried until my family came home and at the time I was sad, but I was also thrilled because that was the first time I had truly interacted with a book. After that I just became an even bigger bookworm and you could not pull me out of library for anything.

SR: What are you currently reading?

JS: Besides schoolwork I am attempting to read a mystery called Beautiful Lies. This has been a feat considering the workload of the first few weeks, but I hope to have it completed soon. I am very surprised with the novel so far–something I wasn’t expecting since it had been on the bargain table at Barnes and Noble. During the summer I read the entire Sookie Stackhouse series by Charlaine Harris and I would like to start viewing the show True Blood which is based on the series. Also, I am greatly anticipating Dan Brown’s new novel The Lost Symbol which continues the Robert Langdon series.

SR: What artist have you really connected with, either in subject matter, work, or motto?

JS: I think I talk about Sherman Alexie a little bit too much, but he has got to be my favorite author just because of subject matter (although I hear he is a pretty nice guy as well). He has really helped me not only as a writer, but also as a Native American who always felt a little bit like an outcast within the community. I appreciate his work because he is so true and honest and humorous. I truly respect him as an author and I greatly value his work.

SR: What would be your dream class to take at ASU? What would the title be and what would it cover?

JS: Dream class? Naptime 101. But that will never happen. I really wish I could take a class where I am being graded to read whatever I want. If I knew that I could devote two hours a night to reading some random fiction novel off the shelf for a grade then I would be in heaven. I have found that during semesters I really cannot dedicate the time I would like to read novels for pleasure. If I could have a class where I was allowed to do that then I would be overjoyed.

Meet the Interns: Sean Carstensen, Prose Team Manager

seancarstensen_0Senior English Literature Major Sean Carstensen is the Prose Team Manager for Superstition Review.

Superstition Review: What do you do for SR?

Sean Carstensen: It’s my responsibility to function as a liaison between the prose editors and management of SR. The Prose team as a whole is responsible for selecting the works to be published in the upcoming issue; my role in the team is to keep sight of the larger picture and assist the prose editors in any way I can while simultaneously working to streamline communication within the SR team.

SR: How did you hear about or get involved with Superstition Review?

SC: I found out about Superstition Review through an English Department email encouraging students to apply for the internship. It sounded like something I would be interested in, so I applied and decided to take a summer course which would prepare me for a management position in the Fall 2009 issue. Being involved in publishing a literary journal was more appealing to me than the traditional types of internships.

SR: What is your favorite section of SR? Why?

SC: My favorite section of SR would have to be the poetry. The density of meaning and ambiguity of the poems is what separates them from prose: I can read a fiction/nonfiction piece once through and feel as though I have a solid idea of the message; poems are completely different. The first read through a poem familiarizes me with the meter and structure, but the meaning often remains uncertain and ambiguous even after several reads.

SR: Who is your dream contributor to the journal? Talk about him/her.

SC: I feel like Stephen King would be an extremely interesting interview. After reading previous interviews, I would want to ask him about his writing process because it sounds different from traditional methods which emphasis planning and structure; King incorporates a degree of spontaneity and oftentimes does not know how his main plot conflicts will be resolved.

SR: What job, other than your own, would you like to try out in the journal?

SC: Blogging has always been something I’d like to try out and I think that it would be exciting to be responsible for an ongoing blog about Superstition Review. I think that a lot of potential readers will first find out about SR through the blog, and I believe that maintaining the page would be an intriguing combination of journalism and marketing.

SR: What are you most excited for in the upcoming issue?

SC: I’m really hoping to discover some new writers through the open submissions. I know that we’ll receive quality work from the solicited submissions, but I would be thrilled to see some unsolicited work make its way into the final issue as well.

SR: What was the first book you remember falling in love with and what made it so special?

SC: One day my fourth grade teacher started reading us a book called The Phantom Tollbooth and I was absolutely transfixed. Later that day I happened to see the same book in my older brother’s room, so I stole it and proceeded to finish the entire thing. The mash up of wordplay, riddles and rhymes in the story of a boy named Milo were completely overwhelming and unlike anything I had seen before.

SR: What artist have you really connected with, either in subject matter, work, or motto?

SC: I would have to say Oscar Wilde. The Picture of Dorian Gray was an eye opening read, but it’s really Wilde’s criticism that I connect with: the notion that an observer deduces meaning from art by contributing part of their self to the work was new to me.

SR: What would be your dream class to take at ASU? What would the title be and what would it cover?

SC: A class on Aleister Crowley–I’ve read some less than complementary things about him, but have never actually read any of his work. I believe someone once called him “the wickedest man in the world” and I would be interested to see what a writer has to say to earn such harsh criticism.

SR: Do you write? Tell us about a project you’re working on.

SC: I have recently reconnected with three of my old friends from high school and we’re trying to start mailing a journal between the four of us; we’ll be able to reflect on how much has changed in four years while staying touch with one another in a unique fashion.