Intern Post, Chris Schmidt: A Passionate Pursuit – Putting Education, Experience to Work

iamawriterImagine you’ve worked at the same type of job for over two decades, but then one day it hits you: your teenage daughter will graduate from high school in less than two years and you don’t want to do what you’ve been doing for the rest of your life.

And… you’re middle aged.

That happened to me in 2008.

Although I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was old enough to read on my own, prior to my mid-life “awakening,” so to speak, for more than two dozen years my life revolved around administrative and office management roles—in part due to my mad typing skills of more than 120 words per minute (true story). But I never stopped wanting to be a writer.

You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream. ~ C.S. Lewis

Fast forward to life in 2011. Armed with a shiny new Bachelor of Arts in literature, writing and film earned at Arizona State University, two semesters logged in as an intern with Superstition Review, as well as the title of cofounder and manager of Scribes @ ASU, a writing club intended “to further the social, cultural, and academic interests of the students enrolled in a literature-based degree program,” it was time to put my education to work.

Fortunately, during my final two semesters at ASU and while working as an intern with [s]r under the mentorship of Trish Murphy, founding editor, I discovered my love of everything publishing related. However, I knew if I planned on getting anywhere, I needed experience in the field. And the sooner the better… I wasn’t getting any younger.

Today is your day. You’re off to Great Places! You’re off and away! ~ Dr. Seuss

In less than a month following graduation, another seasoned editor took a chance on this (tongue-in-cheek) “old dog” and brought me on staff as an editorial intern at a print and online publication catering to all things beauty. With infinite patience, the editor-in-chief taught me new tricks that consisted of fact-finding, writing blogs and articles, posting online social media and managing the magazine’s website. I couldn’t have been more ecstatic.

Following three months of showing up at my cubicle and regular staff meetings, acquiring invaluable knowledge and a greater passion for the business, I sought my first “real” job in publishing.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t as easy as I had hoped to land a position in the industry. After more than six months of applying for both freelance and full-time opportunities—and either being rejected or unable to find the right fit—it was tempting to fall back on my administrative and office management experience. The logic-thinking side of my brain knew there was nothing wrong with that, but the creative side countered louder: I went back to school to write!

One evening, after yet another rejection (“We’re sorry, we chose someone with more experience”—the proverbial Catch 22 where experience is required, yet can’t be gained until someone hires you first), I scanned the online Craigslist postings under the administrative category… just in case.

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. ~ W.C. Fields

If a headline could scream, this one did—complete with bells and whistles. Adorned in big bold letters, the word PUBLISHING radiated a thousand promises. The advertised opening, about four days old, publicized the position of administrative coordinator for a small commercial publishing firm within a few miles of my home. And the best part? I was qualified.

Yes, I’d be managing an office, including phones and spreadsheets and mailings, but I would also be working with ad insertions, copy-editing and social media. Convinced I could do the office part with my eyes closed and my hands tied behind my back (almost), and with new-found enthusiasm and an emotion I equated to hope, that night I submitted my application. I interviewed two days later, received a job offer the next morning and began my new role the following Monday.

Deadlines, grammar and A.P—oh my! ~ Me

Working for a small company means I juggle a variety of responsibilities daily—from admin to materials trafficker, to customer service, assistant editor, social media guru and website content coordinator, to eNewsletter administrator, researcher and writer. I work with sales, advertisers, circulation, PR, IT and design. And, on a bi-monthly basis, I interview field personnel for featured Q&As in one of the company’s publications.

The expertise I’m gaining in the publishing industry is instrumental. But, I’m convinced my accomplishments over the past three years would not have been possible without my education at ASU and the fundamental experience I obtained while working on the [s]r staff, through my internship with In With Skin magazine and training under the leadership of select educators and editors. My freelance portfolio also continues to expand and includes several blogs and articles for In With Skin; articles for Paradise Valley Lifestyle magazine; nonfiction pieces for Kalliope, a former online literary magazine at ASU and guest blog posts for [s]r.

Grow old with me! The best is yet to be. ~ Robert Browning

While serving my internship with [s]r, in an Oct. 2, 2010 interview I was asked: “Where do you see yourself in 10 years?”

My response: “…I see myself enjoying the fruit of my education and passion for the art of the written word… as well as working in some type of publishing/editing capacity.”

With another six years to go until 2020, I’m awash with anticipation, on track as I approach the mid-century mark—an old dog balancing on the edge of a hat brimming with shiny new tricks.

If you feel like there’s something out there that you’re supposed to be doing, if you have a passion for it, then stop wishing and just do it. ~ Wanda Skyes

Intern Highlight: Winona Manrique

Content Coordinator Winona Manrique is a senior at Arizona State University. She will graduate Spring 2012 with a BA in English Literature. Her short story “Back to the Hearth” won the 2011 Glendon and Kathryn Swarthout Award for 2nd place in Fiction. Originally from Connecticut, she plans to move to New York City to pursue a career in publishing and one day become a published author. This is her first semester at Superstition Review.

Click here to hear Winona read one of her short stories.

Intern Highlight: Stephanie De La Rosa

Advertising Coordinator Stephanie De La Rosa is a junior at Arizona State University pursuing concurrent degrees in Creative Writing and French and a minor in Art History. After graduation, Stephanie would like to live abroad and learn more languages, establish herself as a writer, and
eventually apply her literary and linguistic knowledge in the publishing
industry as a translator. This is her first semester with Superstition Review.

Watch this video to see Stephanie shares some of her literary inspirations.

Intern Highlight: Kimberly Hutchinson

Nonfiction Editor Kimberley Hutchinson is a junior at Barrett, the Honors College at Arizona State University where she is pursuing concurrent degrees in Women/Gender Studies and English (Creative Writing, specializing in Fiction) with a minor in History. After graduating in Fall 2013, apart from establishing herself as a writer, she plans to attend law school and ultimately aspires to have a career in human rights law and constitutional law. This is her firs
t semester with Superstition Review.


Click on the link below to hear Kim share her previously published poem with us.

Kimberly Hutchinson

An Interview with Mary Sojourner

Superstition Review
will be hosting Mary Sojourner during our 2011 Fall Reading Series, on Wednesday, November 9 at 7 p.m. on the ASU Tempe Campus in the Pima Auditorium at the Memorial Union Building.

On Thursday, November 10, NPR commentator and novelist Mary Sojourner hosts a writing workshop called The Jump Start Circle “for those,” she says, “who have always wanted to write and somehow haven’t begun; for writers who have blocked; and for writers who want to move to the next level of their work.” The Jump Start Circle is not a lecture workshop—participants write for most of the session. November 10, 6:30-8:30. Cost: $25. Registration and pre-payment at 480.730.0205.

We are incredibly excited to host Mary Sojourner on our campus, and encourage all to come out to see her. Admission is free and anyone can attend.

Superstition Review recently had the opportunity to talk to Sojourner and ask her a few questions, and her answers have us on the edge of our seat, eagerly anticipating more of her insight during her upcoming events in Arizona.

Superstition Review: What got you started as a writer? How did you decide to take that (career) path?

Mary Sojourner: I wrote in my memoir, Solace: Rituals of Loss and Desire, about growing up in a frightening childhood. My mother was a brilliant and gifted bi-polar psychotic. Every two years, she would descend toward a suicide attempt and be taken away to the grim shelter of the State Mental Hospital. My dad was terrified and helpless in the face of her illness. I learned fast to disappear into books – and into the safety of the outdoors. That was the beginning. I knew from the time I was 8 years old that I wanted to be a writer – only a little more than I wanted to be a cowboy on the Western plains.

The writing path took me. It is not a career, especially now in these mean days of contemporary publishing. I teach in order to earn my living. Writing is a possession, a torment and the most compelling love I’ve ever known.

SR: What is the most rewarding thing you’ve taken from your career? Is it teaching? Participating in public readings?

MS: Every day I take the knowledge that writing has chosen me. Only a little less, I take the knowledge that teaching other writers also owns me. And, of course, there are those moments when lightning arcs through me and onto the page.

SR: What advice would you offer aspiring writers and artists currently attending undergraduate universities?

MS: Either drop out of school right now or plan to do so once you graduate. Resist the pressure and impulse to get an advanced degree. Apprentice yourself to your creativity. Let it map your route. You – unless you have a trust fund – can plan on being poor, scared, frustrated. You might, if you’re lucky, find yourself walking the blade of an obsidian knife. Howling. Laughing. Being grateful for every breath you take.

She added:

“Those who have the privilege to know have the duty to act.” — Albert Einstein. Make beauty. Make change. Make trouble for the settled and secure.

Mary Sojourner’s personal blog can be found here: