English Major (Creative Writing) with a Business Administration Minor
Graduated May 2012
Why did you choose to study English at CSU?
I initially started out as a Business Major, but it was only in my English classes that I felt completely and wholly stimulated by everything I was engaged with. I think you have to devote yourself to that feeling when you are lucky enough to find it.
Where are you now? What are you doing?
I currently live in Brooklyn, NY, and I work at the world’s largest book publisher called Penguin Random House. Specifically, I am a Sales Manager for all of the Adult books on the Penguin side, and I work with independent bookstores located in metro New York. Before publishing, I spent 3 years working as a bookseller in Fort Collins’ own Old Firehouse Books.
How did your major prepare you for the work, the life you have now?
My English major was extremely important! Through the study of English, I learned to think critically, and I was introduced to a variety of different reading materials. Being well-read is hugely important for me since all of the booksellers and publishers I currently work with have a variety of tastes in the books they choose to read and work with.
Please share a favorite memory from your time with the English Department.
One of my very favorite memories was when the “A” Literary Journal (now Garden Level) had its publication party at Avogadros Number. I worked as an associate poetry editor, and seeing all of the people whose poems I worked on perform and pick up their copies of the journal was powerful for me. My colleagues and I worked on the journal throughout the course of a year, and to see its completion has always been one of my most valued experiences at CSU.
Was there a specific class, professor, advisor, or fellow student who made an impression on you, helped you, or inspired you when you were here?
Dan Beachy-Quick is the best professor I had during my undergraduate education. He is a brilliant individual, and his lessons helped shape the person I’ve become. Dan’s teaching style embodies patience and grace. I attribute him with helping me fully realize my love of language. If I could, I would still take classes with him now!
Tell us about the internship you did while at CSU.
I participated in two internships during CSU. I mentioned my experience as an associate poetry editor for “A” Literary Journal, so I’ll focus more on my time with Bailiwick Press. Karla Oceanak and Kendra Spanjer are the founders of the small press, and I was brought on as a publishing assistant for a semester. In this role, I primarily worked on the Aldo Zelnick series. Bailiwick was a great environment for learning about the publishing process because interns are allowed to work in several areas like editorial, marketing, digital production, and sales.
What did you learn from your internship experience? Did your internship impact where you are now?
I knew that I wanted to work in publishing, so Bailiwick helped me sort out which area of publishing was the best fit for me. I enjoyed how the internship gave me real world experience, but it also served as a sampler. For instance, I learned that I wasn’t particularly good at video production, but I had more aptitude for line-editing. Your skills (or lack of skills) can become much clearer when you put them to practice.
What advice do you have for other students doing an internship?
Take full advantage of your time in the internship! It is a safe space to experiment, learn, and explore. Internships allow us to get a real glimpse of English skills in use, and I would say go as far out of your comfort zone as you can. Those are the moments and the opportunities that help you grow.
Why is it important to study the Humanities?
Human culture is not only important in my mind, but absolutely vital. Within the Humanities are so many examples of human ambition, and it is worth our time to study all of them. It feels essential to learn about what we have accomplished throughout human existence, and I deeply believe that the Humanities strive to help us reach new places.
What advice do you have for CSU English Department students?
Your education is very much what you make of it, and if you are willing to put in the time, then CSU has multitudes of resources that will educate and support you! I would also urge you to engage with your community as well. Bookstores, libraries, theaters, schools—these are all places that are friends of the English major. It is largely clichéd that the English major has limited options in the job market, but that is simply not true. Your degree makes you relevant and useful in many places, fields, and companies. Don’t forget that!
What are your hobbies or special interests, what do you enjoy doing with your free time?
I’m always reading, but when I’m taking a break from the book world, I love to go on walks with my dog and listen to music. I also play guitar for fun these days, but I used to be in a band for many years. I’m hoping to get back into the swing of road biking like I used to do in Colorado, but it’s a bit more difficult to do it out here in New York City. And cooking!
Any other news you’d like to share with us?
Publishing is a challenging, but rewarding field to work in. The book world continues to evolve and adapt to meet the needs of readers every day, and trust me, printed books aren’t going away! If you have questions about the industry then ask the English Department to put you in touch with me. I’m happy to answer questions.
Interested in doing an internship? Check out the list of available internships for Fall 2015, and contact Mary Hickey, English Department Internship Coordinator, at Mary.Hickey@colostate.edu for more information on these internships and how to apply.