Fordham teaches you to think critically, receive criticism and come up creative solutions

Matt Law, Alumnus, Product Owner, Digital Editorial 

 

Describe your career path. What choices did you make? How did you use your time in college to help you along in your career path?

Interned quite a bit during college, got a "full time" web job senior year (about 30 hours a week). Started in digital editorial/production right our of school, shifted into online community and then product management, all for editorial sites.

 

What advice do you have for English majors or English graduate students as they prepare for for careers? How can they stand out in a competitive job market?

Fordham teaches you to think critically, receive criticism and come up creative solutions to problems. Don't stop that after graduation. Those skills are incredibly valuable in the professional space. Share your opinions and don't be afraid to call out bullsh*t. That's what you're paid for.

My writing/editorial background has been useful in my current line of work. I represent wide variety of stakeholders in the business and work with development teams to address their needs. Clear communication (both verbal and written) of their requirements is so important to getting the right work done the right way. My writing and editorial background is somewhat unique to my field, but it really seems to come in handy. I'm sure this can be true for recent English students as well in other fields that aren't on the standard post-graduation path.

Join a campus publication, and write, write, write

Elizabeth Stone, Faculty

 

Describe your career path. What choices did you make? How did you use your time in college to help you along in your career path?

As a good critical reader, I was easily able to look at publications I wanted to write for and understand the publication's voice and audience, and the structure they wanted in articles. Consequently I was able to succeed as a freelance writer, gathering "clips," and moving toward ever more prestigious publications.

 

What advice do you have for English majors or English graduate students as they prepare for for careers? How can they stand out in a competitive job market?

Join a campus publication, and write, write, write. Become an editor and edit, edit, edit. Both writing and editing will improve your writing, and will demonstrate to anyone offering an internship or entry level job, that you've been committed to writing and paying your dues.

Strong writing is key

Connor Mannion, Alumnus: Former Digital Producer for NBC Olympics

 

Describe your career path. What choices did you make? How did you use your time in college to help you along in your career path?

I interned at a law firm, and interned at Fox and NBC News while at Fordham. After leaving, I applied to every job that matched my skill set, not just positions I was personally interested.

 

What advice do you have for English majors or English graduate students as they prepare for for careers? How can they stand out in a competitive job market?

Strong writing is key, and many employers are starting to realize that a something like a business degree or a stereotypical more 'employable' degree doesn't necessarily teach how to write well. However, students should be comfortable with a lot more than academic writing, so they should be writing personal and informal essays, news articles and op-eds, and even fiction and short stories. All of it hones a valuable skill.

My English studies provided a natural segue into the publishing industry and journalism

Monique Diman, Alumnus: Manager, Disney Book Group Sales

 

Describe your career path. What choices did you make? How did you use your time in college to help you along in your career path?

My English studies provided a natural segue into the publishing industry and journalism helped me in sales. Asking the right questions is key to knowing your audience or customer. I secured paid internships in publishing, film marketing and at a public broadcasting station in college. I tried to get a sense of various media so I could be flexible lining up a job within the markets that were hiring upon graduation.

 

What advice do you have for English majors or English graduate students as they prepare for for careers? How can they stand out in a competitive job market?

I see some graduates with a very singular career focuses (i.e. “I want to be a children’s book editor”) which is admirable but I would encourage some flexibility. If a job comes up editing web sites or textbooks, try it! The path may lead you to where you want to be anyway or somewhere else where you might be just as happy. I thought that I wanted to be a broadcast journalist but job opportunities took me elsewhere. I went with it and am happy I did.

If you're not being mentored, the job is not worth your time

Rachel Weinick, Alumnus: Production Editor, Farrar, Straus and Giroux

 

Describe your career path. What choices did you make? How did you use your time in college to help you along in your career path?

I started writing for The Observer during my sophomore year of college. I then became an Assistant Arts & Culture Editor, an Arts & Culture Editor, and then Copy Editor. During my junior year, I had my first internship in one of the managing editorial departments at Penguin. I wasn't sure I wanted to work in publishing, though, so I decided to intern in the music industry (for two semesters at EMI and one semester at Columbia Records). I graduated from FCLC in 2011. Upon graduation, I was offered a job at BMG music publishing. I HATED IT. I left after two months. (If you're not being mentored, the job is not worth your time!) For the next eight months, I bounced between unemployment and local temp jobs in New Jersey. Because of my English major background, internship experience at Penguin, and history with the Observer, I started applying to tons of publishing jobs. (Note: I applied via online systems only, as I did not have any "connections" -- so it *is* possible to land jobs this way.) My first book publishing job was as a publishing assistant at Random House Children's Books. I assisted the senior vice president and learned so much about how books are made. After a year, I became an editorial assistant within the Crown Books for Young Readers imprint (part of Random House Children's Books). I remained in that position for two years. I left Random House to come to Farrar, Straus and Giroux (a division of Macmillan) as an Associate Production Editor. After a year, I was promoted to Production Editor. In addition, I take on freelance proofreading jobs for St. Martin's Press (also a division of Macmillan).

 

What advice do you have for English majors or English graduate students as they prepare for for careers? How can they stand out in a competitive job market?

Intern! Work on the paper! I HAD NO CONNECTIONS IN ANY INDUSTRY. I swear! But because Fordham is located in New York, I took advantage of fall and spring internships, which tend to be less competitive than summer internships. I had a work-study job in the Office of Career Services, so I made sure my resume was top-notch before applying for anything. There were a lot of internships I applied to but didn't get, but I didn't let that discourage me. Interviewing for an internship/job is a skill and it takes practice.

While I was working at Random House, a number of college students (at Fordham and NYU) emailed my work email address to see if I would agree to an "informational interview" over coffee. I almost always agreed to these. These were usually students who were interested in publishing and wanted to ask me about my experience in the industry. Some of these students went on to eventually apply for jobs or internships at Random House, and when they did, they would let me know, and then I would typically email HR with a recommendation. So, it never hurts to reach out to someone for an informational interview.

Know what you're passionate about and articulate that

Brian Cuthbert, Alumnus: Executive Director, IOFM

 

Describe your career path. What choices did you make? How did you use your time in college to help you along in your career path?

I started taking journalism classes in my sophomore year with Prof. Stone. I don't remember the name of the class but I remember the first assignment we had was writing an obituary for someone famous. I joined the Observer in the Spring of that semester as a reporter and then continued doing that while adding Business Manager to my responsibilities (it was a paid gig and I needed a 2nd job). I was Business Manager Junior Year securing ads for the newspaper. I wrote for News junior year, and then applied for features editor senior year and wound up getting that. Relinquished Business Manager duties so I could do that. Mentioned to Professor Stone I wanted to get into business journalism and within a few weeks she had connected me with someone who graduated a few years earlier and was part of the Observer, Mina Landriscina. Mina worked for a company called Kennedy Information, they published magazines, research, newsletters and ran a few conferences. Part of a much larger organization in BNA (now part of Bloomberg). Kennedy had an Editorial Assistant opening in their NY office, as well as a few other jobs. I applied, got it, and started as a paid intern in January 2001 and then full time right after graduation. The person who ran the NY office (David Beck) for Kennedy has become a key mentor for me throughout my career - he was very senior at Thomson, he knows media/publishing and took me under his wing. About 2-3 years in, I started getting itchy and wondering why the magazine wasn't making more money. It seemed like we had a good product, we reached an audience that had significant technology purchasing influence (this was www.ConsultingMag.com) and all the sales people had quit or been fired so they had no one selling. I expressed an interest, and met with the then CEO and then President (Wayne & Marshall Cooper) and they agreed to let me test out ad sales for 6 months, and if I don't like it, I had a guaranteed job somewhere in the editorial division of the company.

I asked for them to provide sales training, so I did 8 weeks worth of courses after work at Dale Carnegie. Was invaluable.

I became the top salesperson in a $15 million company within 2 years. We merged subsidiaries together - 3 companies combined into 1 - and I was moved into a role overseeing all sales across $22 million in revenue across multiple divisions (all fairly unique) but one common thread among most of them was events. I stayed at that company 11 years, and left an 85 person company as part of the 3-person Executive Management team reporting directly to the CEO of BNA. I left, interestingly enough, to join David Beck, Wayne & Marshall Cooper and another former colleague at Kennedy who were running a private equity firm and owned three businesses. I was VP Sales for Chief Executive Group, focusing on all West Coast sales and sales to consulting firms, and then VP of Sales for IOFM which was this company they had just taken over for no money (it was being left for bankrupt, so they took a chance on it). Within 3 years, IOFM was exploding, and we were acquired by Diversified Communications, a large global media company that has a particular strength in the event space. IOFM was growing fastest in events, and then also ran a certification program and small membership. I had to choose between staying at Chief Executive Group, which I liked, or going with IOFM and I chose IOFM - seemed like higher upside and more stability, etc. Within 6 months of being acquired, we acquired our largest competitor and I was put in charge all sales for the combined groups and had to figure out how to tie it all together. 1 year after that I was promoted to Executive Director of IOFM, where I'm responsible for all day-to-day operations of the business and have responsibility for all sales, marketing, editorial, etc. I work for RD Whitney, who I worked with at Kennedy, and I work with David Beck. My whole career has been linked to the connection Elizabeth Stone made for me in late 2000. That networking opportunity, and my desire to take it and run, helped catapult my career.

 

What advice do you have for English majors or English graduate students as they prepare for for careers? How can they stand out in a competitive job market?

Know what you want to be. Know what you're passionate about and articulate that - intelligently. Getting a job requires you to sell yourself, sell your passion, sell your work ethic. I want to hire people with a fire, and a clear interest - I can help them build a career. And network, network, network. Meet people who do what you want to do, or have careers you want to learn more about. You never know where that connection will come from. Everyone who has been helped wants to pay it forward. You have to ask though...I hear all the time from people presenting to college students and they're amazed out of 40 students, maybe one has a specific ask - "Are you hiring?" and only a few will connect on LinkedIn and do something with it.

Use your classes — especially those related to practical and creative writing —

Paul Hagen, Alumnus: Editor in Chief, Metrosource Magazine

 

Describe your career path. What choices did you make? How did you use your time in college to help you along in your career path?

I started my career with two internships - one at an internet startup and one at Princeton Review - that I was either referred to by fellow Fordham Students or Fordham Staff. My first job after graduating was being vacated by a fellow Fordham alum and I rose from Editorial Assistant to Associate Editor by proving myself a valuable asset to the company. When the Chief left, I was the best choice to navigate the publication through some choppy financial waters, as I'd been so involved with its cost-cutting efforts and have been with the publication nearly fourteen years. The opportunity has also allowed me to pursue side projects including appearing on radio and creating podcasts.

 

What advice do you have for English majors or English graduate students as they prepare for for careers? How can they stand out in a competitive job market?

Use your classes — especially those related to practical and creative writing — to learn how to offer careful, constructive critique: how to praise specifically, how to use praise to mask the sting of critique, how to ask questions that lead a writer to a suggested edit as though it were his or her own idea, how to suggest and incorporate edits that honor the spirit of the writer's intent. Investigate a wide area of topics while you're able but when you find something that grabs you, become a specialist at it. Challenge yourself to create a catalogue of work you can point to when asked for examples of what you can do: a blog, a podcast, a YouTube show. Do all you can to network across a variety of media outlets — the door to a different kind of opportunity may prove an escape hatch from an untenable situation.

Try to be ahead of the game

Bonnie Turner, Alumnus: Content Producer, CNN International

 

Describe your career path. What choices did you make? How did you use your time in college to help you along in your career path?

While in college I took as many media studies/ journalism classes as I could. I also wrote and was an editor for the college newspaper. In addition to my classes, I had a paid job with WOR Radio, which I did at night. Starting in my junior year, I took advantage of being in NYC and interned at WABC at the assignment desk and CBS News in the press office. I had great experiences through all of those which prepared me for my career, yet none of them offered me a job after graduation. After I graduated, I went on to freelance at CNBC as a production assistant. I didn't particularly like financial news, but it allowed me to build a skillset into working in the TV news industry. From there I got a full time job at CNNfn and after that with CNN U.S. in Atlanta and then CNN International. Without taking those internships and taking that job with CNBC, I wouldn't be where I am today.

 

What advice do you have for English majors or English graduate students as they prepare for for careers? How can they stand out in a competitive job market?

It's great to have a BA, but you need to gain job experience while in college. I would suggest taking as many internships as they can while in college. I would also suggest looking into the type of career path they'd like to take based on their major and thinking about how that career path would develop over time based on new technologies. For example, if you want to get a job as a TV producer, how can you translate those skills to producing digital content or digital mobile content? Try to be ahead of the game, rather than focusing so much on the present. I'd also suggest minoring in something - International relations, economics -- additional skills, knowledge that you can use along with your intended career.

Writing was at the center

Erica Ehrenberg: Faculty

 

Describe your career path. What choices did you make? How did you use your time in college to help you along in your career path?

For many years, and maybe beginning seriously in college, I became aware of the extent to which I wanted to organize my life around writing. This basically dictated many decisions I made in college, where one of the most important experiences I had was working with one particular writer one on one for the last two years, culminating in a creative thesis. This helped set the groundwork for living days where writing was at the center-- gave me a sense of what that would feel like-- how much work it took, etc. The jobs I chose after that-- mostly teaching jobs-- were jobs in which I felt engaged with many of the same challenges and questions I had as a writer, so the two always felt very connected-- each feeding the other. This has only become more true over the years.

 

What advice do you have for English majors or English graduate students as they prepare for for careers? How can they stand out in a competitive job market?

I think a great thing an English major or graduate student can do is begin to publish--both creative work and also essays, reviews-- in places big and small. It's a great way to start to really take your own self-guided work seriously-- to make time to think about where to send work, what you might be good at writing about, etc.

Telling truth to power

Heather Dubrow: Faculty

 

Describe your career path. What choices did you make? How did you use your time in college to help you along in your career path?

Becoming a professor came naturally-- I felt myself drawn to that throughout college. My work on the college newspaper helped with the path inasmuch as I became interested in educational policy and in "telling truth to power."

 

What advice do you have for English majors or English graduate students as they prepare for for careers? How can they stand out in a competitive job market?

Think carefully about the career, but don't rush into a decision too soon. Explore a range of options, remembering that you are still changing and growing. Remember too that reading broadly and improving your writing and speaking skills will help you with a range of careers.

I feel like I was really guided by my passion for writing

Jennifer Gilmore: Faculty

 

Describe your career path. What choices did you make? How did you use your time in college to help you along in your career path?

Looking back, I feel like I was really guided by my passion for writing and my need to earn a living while allowing time to write. The times were very different and there weren't the kinds of global tools students have now, but I'll try to be helpful. I was an English major and a Creative Writing and Women's Studies minor as an undergraduate. Basically, I wrote as much as possible. I went and saw my writing professors all the time to discuss my own work and also what I was interested in in my reading. I am still in touch with my creative writing professors and they were real guides for me. If I was in a political organization, which I was, I did most of the writing. After college and before graduate school, I held a lot of random jobs while I also worked, unpaid, at arts organizations and wrote for the local paper. Working in the arts got me involved in that community (I had moved to Seattle where I was not from) and allowed me to meet all kinds of people as I learned about many aspects of grant-making, editing, etc. And because of my writing for the local paper, someone asked me to take part in a radio show. And when he left, I hosted that show. These are unpaid gigs that I supplemented with waitressing and bartending. I didn't feel like I had much of strategy but one thing really did lead do another. I knew I wanted to get an MFA, which I did, but I'm very glad I took some time in between schools so that I could really develop my own process and discipline as a writer. You only get to go to graduate school once (at least for that particular MFA) and I'm glad I was patient with myself and waited until I could get the most out of it.

 

What advice do you have for English majors or English graduate students as they prepare for for careers? How can they stand out in a competitive job market?

I am speaking mostly to creative writers when I say trying your hand at all kinds of things but making sure you are able to write. In college there are opportunities to work at lit magazines, print and on-line, and nonprofit literary organizations and public radio programs as well as traditional mainstream publishing opportunities. You meet so many different people when you do these jobs but you still get to stay in what is interesting to you. It also gives you a broad look at the arts community, which you will be a thriving part of in some way. Diversified experience is so important--while yes, it's great that you worked on the literary magazine and want to be an editor, having experience with grant writing and bookselling and helping with events and working in marketing at a non-profit like PEN, for example, sets you apart.

The only choice I made was to be an artist

Chris Brandt: Faculty

 

Describe your career path. What choices did you make? How did you use your time in college to help you along in your career path?

The only choice I made was to be an artist - thought that was less a choice than a need. The question was, what kind? I was always writing, but secretly and with no confidence, but then I got fatally infected by the theatre bug, and everything else has followed from that. Again, even that was less a choice than a fortunate coincidence.

 

What advice do you have for English majors or English graduate students as they prepare for for careers? How can they stand out in a competitive job market?

I have no advice to give someone who wants a career - since I have never sought one. (I consider writing a vocation not a career.) As to jobs, I have had a lot of jobs, mostly freelance, and I've done pretty much everything from driving a cab to construction work to furniture design to teaching - but these jobs (though I love some of them, like carpentry and teaching) are not the be-all, but just a way to pay the rent. So my advice to young people who are called to write is, get a trade - something like electrical work or upholstering or plumbing (all of which I have done) where they will always be assured of finding paying work, and then - write!