English Alumni Working in Journalism and Publishing
Sarah Corrigan '05
The path to my current job began when I was accepted into the internship program at CosmoGIRL! magazine in New York City in 2004, the summer after my junior year. All summer, it was my goal to make as many contacts as I could and learn every editorial aspect of the business. The clips and experience I gained at CosmoGIRL! (plus my published work in The Summit) helped me secure an internship during the spring semester of my senior year at Teen Voices magazine in Boston. I knew the writing industry was notoriously difficult to crack, so after graduation in 2005 I applied for dozens of jobs, reached out to all my contacts, and sent resumes to more than 100 publications and companies. After months of rejection, I decided to "hire myself," and I became a freelancer by pitching countless story ideas and sending queries to editors.
Freelancing gave me a lot of freedom to pursue my interests, but it required a great deal of hard work and time to generate a steady stream of projects. I was also missing the opportunity to learn from more experienced writers and editors, so I gave up freelancing after two years to take an internship at Boston magazine. It was a risky career move (leaving a paying gig for an unpaid internship), but ultimately I decided it was an important investment because entry-level jobs in publishing are often filled by former interns or freelancers.
After about seven months as an intern and then as a freelance fact-checker for Boston magazine, I interviewed for a position at B*tween Productions, home of the Beacon Street Girls book series and interactive web site for girls ages 9-13. In the summer of 2007, BeaconStreetGirls.com was poised to take off and needed direction from someone who could cover a variety of tasks-reporting, fact-checking, editing, arranging celeb and expert interviews, initiating strategic partnerships, and writing in a voice appropriate for the audience. My experience in both teen and freelancing made me a good fit for the job.
A year and a half later, I absolutely love my job as the associate web editor of BeaconStreetGirls.com. Although it took longer than I had expected to settle into a full-time job, I feel like all the experiences-even the tough rejections-were worthwhile because of what I learned. If I can impart any wisdom from my career path so far, it would be that you must show persistence (not pushiness) when trying to get your foot in the door. Network with as many people as possible (you never know if they'll be in a position to hire you one day). Know that you have something to offer, but also something to learn. Always reach for the job you want, but be willing to take the steps (and pay the dues) to get there.
Susan Pawlak-Seaman '74
When I began college, I was intending to go on to law school. But during summers and semester breaks all through my Stonehill years, I worked as a clerk in what was then the Middleboro, Mass. bureau of The Standard-Times (headquartered in New Bedford, Mass.) Anyway, I fell in love with journalism and after graduation, I was fortunate to get a job in the field. At The Standard-Times. Where, 34 years later, I still am. Know what? I still love it as much as the day I started. For the first 20-something years of my career, I, by choice, was a reporter. Then along the way I realized that I'd developed some pretty decent editing and organizational skills. (In other words, I'm sort of anal!) These days, I am (for lack of a better title) the suburban editor. In addition to developing and assigning stories, working with reporters and editing copy, I also am the editor of an online Education page on our site, southcoasttoday.com. And, just for fun (and because I have lots of opinions stored up from my years as a reporter) I write a weekly column on things topical or whatever catches my eye. I tell everyone it's cheaper than therapy. Needless to say, my experiences and my English classes at Stonehill helped me hone my writing skills. Prof. Frank Ryan was one of my all-time favorites. I also pseudo-minored in history and was fortunate to have Dr. Kenneally as a professor in Women's History. His course along with my English classes were a wonderful forum for discussion, debate and development of critical thinking skills. All have come in very handy in my line of work. In addition to the excellent education I received at Stonehill, what I found extremely valuable was what amounted to an internship/part-time job in the field of journalism. Working at the paper through college (I also did a brief stint on The Summit and The Acres) gave me a real feel for what the profession was all about. While it's certainly not for everyone --- you have to be passionate, willing to work insane hours and get paid not so much for doing it --- it is an ever-changing career (I've gone from manual typewriters to laptops. Who knew?). And I absolutely love coming to work with a plan, then having to toss it all out the window when a major news story breaks.
Tim Taylor '61
Now that I'm semi-retired, I can look back at my career post-Stonehill and honestly say that "I never worked a day in my life." Because if you truly love what you work at, it isn't work. I'd always loved both writing and politics. I graduated in 196l with a BA in English and a minor in History-Government and became a general assignment reporter with the Taunton Daily Gazette. A couple of years later I moved on to The Standard-Times of New Bedford where I became that newspaper's first State House reporter. A couple of years there and then it was off to the former Boston Herald American (now the Herald) where I covered the State House and did a weekly political humor column. Moving from political writing to politics itself, I was appointed press secretary to two Speakers of the Massachusetts House of Representatives. A third Speaker appointed me Director of House Communications. I left State service in 1991 and started a one-man media consulting business. Now back in the news biz, I wrote and edited the newspapers of two labor unions in Boston, one of them the then-largest independent local union in New England. It was back to politics in 1999 when I became Staff Director for State Rep. David L. Flynn (D-Bridgewater), the Dean of the Massachusetts House of Representatives. That's my part-time job these days. English is the foundation of virtually every career, be it journalism, politics, the law, medicine, science or business. The ability to communicate effectively is critical to success. A few observations. If you're looking forward to writing for a living, remember it's a "hellofalotta" career. You'll certainly have a "hellofalotta" fun, but you'll probably never make a "hellofalotta" money. So know that and then enjoy. Career steps? If you are truly lucky you will find a mentor in your chosen field. You'll have to earn his or her respect as a serious fellow professional. If you do, that person can help pull you up or push you along to each successive level. If you're interested in journalism, take a business course so you can read and analyze a balance sheet. Take courses in speech and logic and economics. Those courses can help make you a better all-around analyst, writer/communicator. And if you want to write, then write. Write all the time. Write about anything that interests you. Write even if you write for free at the beginning. Write. Write. Write.