Advice

English Major Alums Give Back to Undergraduate Writers

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Mere months after her graduation, English major Ruby Buddemeyer FCLC’18, can afford her own apartment in Nolita, thanks to her job as a celebrity editor at Bustle.com. And Alanna Martine Kilkeary, FCLC’16, is now living on the Upper East, thanks to her job as a beauty writer and editor at PopSugar.com.

Both visited “Writing for Publication,” a new class taught by Professor Elizabeth Stone, to share their route from their English classes at Lincoln Center and involvement in campus publications to internships (Harper’s Bazaar for Alanna) and freelance writing (MarieClaire.com for Ruby) to full-time employment. 

“I didn’t know how to write a story at all,” says Alanna. “My adviser [Professor Mary Bly] told me to join The Observer, where I eventually became the Features editor.” 

Ruby began writing features at The Observer and then moved on to become editor in chief at Fordham’s Flash, finding mentors along the way, including Professor Bly, who told her to develop her own voice in her writing. 

Topics covered by the alums? The importance of Search Engine Optimization (SEO), informational coffees, and how to pass the “edit test” some publications give to potential employees. Oh, and the best way to get a foot in the door? Internships and networking, networking, networking.   

Finals Advice from Fordham English Graduate Students

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Rachel Sternlicht

During finals my two pieces of advice are trying to allot time to get outside in the sun when it’s nice out, so I don’t feel like a cave bat the whole time. And second, surrounding myself with snacks.

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Valerie Guempel

Don’t put things off till the last minute and make sure to get sleep and eat food. While it’s technically possible to pull all-nighters and exist only on caffeine and energy drinks for a day or two, it’s definitely not the best method of acing final’s week and can be absolute hell on your body.  

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Stephen Fragano

My advice would be when time managing, allow even more time to do something than you think necessary. Often times, I find myself underestimating the time I need, and then being behind schedule stresses me out more. Overestimating segments of time is best, and lots of coffee!

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Dom Gentile

Don't forget to take breaks. I find I'm not as productive studying or writing for several hours straight. So I always try and have some music ready or a good T.V. show, just to step away from my work and clear my head. 

English Majors Find Career Advice at "Building Your Life as a Writer & Editor"

On Tuesday, December 6th, English majors attended "Building Your Life as a Writer and Editor," a writer's life and career exploration event guided by a panel of published writers from Fordham's English faculty. Panelists included novelist Stacey D'Erasmo, novelist Mary Bly, poet Sarah Gambito, and novelist Jennifer Gilmore.

The event began with D'Erasmo, Bly, Gambito, and Gilmore introducing themselves and speaking to their experience as writers and the careers they've had to support their writing projects over the years: from food service and corporate jobs to publishing and teaching. They stressed the importance of having time to write and writing for some "non-scary" amount of time every single day.

Gambito discussed working in literary nonprofits, the growing areas of content management and the career opportunities related to the way we access and digest writing, in addition to the resources at Fordham to help students get started now. She stressed how classes in communications, media studies, and digital content could complement English majors' course load.

D'Erasmo walked students through her own path as a writer, from an unrewarding MA experience to writing for the Village Voice. She shared her experiences in publishing and editing and how she came to prioritize joy as a practical element. She knew she found her place as a writer when she found a publication where she "actually cared about the massive amount of work [she] was doing."

Bly, who is a New York Times best-seller, stressed the importance of using one's years at Fordham to intern, write content, and produce tangible results. She encouraged students to find and hone their voice and interests: "Read all the time and think, Why am I enjoying this?" Noting the ways her own scholarly interests have influenced her popular fiction novels, Bly encouraged students to bring their unique outlook to their careers and writing. "You really need your passion, because it's all hard."

Gilmore echoed the other panelists' advice and offered her own experience on the writing life. "Touching your work everyday is so important." But she also discussed how different people might approach writing, depending on their career path and their personality. She stressed that for those interested in working in the publishing industry, there are so many areas of focus to choose from: marketing, publicity, production, and editorial. No matter what career path writers chose, Gilmore emphasized the importance of staying connected to other writers and those with similar interests. She also noted that curiosity is key to writing. "Be super curious. Live a little, too. Let things in and never say 'no.'"

Following the roundtable discussion, the panelists took questions from the audience. Following students' concerns, the panelists went in depth on the process of getting published, the MFA vs. NYC debate, and the uncertainty on planning for the future.

With all four panelists agreeing that planning for your life and career can be difficult to imagine, Gambito offered the following: "You should have A, B, and C plans that are all pretty fantastic and exciting to you, personally."

For more career advice for English majors, check out our new student guide with resources at Fordham, internship listings, and real experience from published writers. 

New Student Guide from Fordham English

Have you checked out the new Student Guide from Fordham English? Designed especially to help students navigate their undergrad studies and life after graduation, the guide is also a useful tool for faculty and staff members. If you have any questions about the English Major, Fordham in general, or the unique opportunities New York City provides, look no further. 

http://fordhamenglish.com/studentguide