Emily Disher: How Research and Writing Led Me from Academia to Corporate America and the Space in Between (Part II)

In the second part of her post, Emily Disher uses her English degrees to land a job and discovers how to focus several of her interests into creating her very own website. To see Part I of this post, click here.

…When I hung up the phone at the end of our conversation, I started to cry. I had been in school for a total of six and a half years (between BSU and Tennessee). I had just completed a Master’s degree. Now I was learning that I needed to work for at least six months at an unpaid internship before I would even be able to compete for a full-time job? The idea was more than I could handle on the day I was supposed to be celebrating all of the painstaking work I’d already invested in securing my future.

But I got over it. And, it turned out, she was absolutely right. Three months after graduation, I found myself thrilled to be starting a paid, six-month internship with a market research firm in Chicago—the one city in which I’d always wanted to live. I marketed my research skills heavily when I interviewed for the position. Halfway into the internship, I was taking an active role in media analysis and writing reports for clients—something most interns were not invited to do, but my English training set me ahead of the curve. I was able to prove myself quickly, and shortly after my internship ended, I was offered a full-time position with the company.

Market research is all about, well, research—collecting it, analyzing it, and writing about it. Sound familiar? It was simply a natural fit for me, and I learned about all kinds of industries that I probably wouldn’t know much about if it weren’t for my job. In fact, I became a bit of a technology geek, which came as quite a surprise to me.

Only recently did I move on from the market research firm. Chasing after a new challenge, I recently transitioned to a search engine marketing firm, where I am learning the ropes of a completely new field, with the goal of transitioning into—you guessed it—the research and strategy department.

I enjoy my day job—the challenges I am given, learning to master new subject matter, and spending time with great co-workers. But I have to admit, I turn to writing for my artistic sustenance outside of the office, and so I maintain a busy freelance writing schedule. With a strong background in ballet and jazz dance (my other artistic love), I have been the dance writer for Clef Notes Concert Journal for the Arts, a small arts magazine, for two years. They actually pay me (a little) to review dance programs and interview famous figures of the dance world. I have also worked as a dance writer for GapersBlock.com, a popular Chicago blog. Recently, however, I started my own dance blog, ChicagoDanceDigest.com, because I wanted to do more of this kind of writing and interviewing, and I wanted to do it on my own terms. I spend a great deal of my free time attending dance performances, sitting in on rehearsals, interviewing choreographers and artistic directors, and keeping up with major Chicago dance news (in addition to taking dance classes, myself). On top of this, I maintain a few other paid gigs writing website content under a pen name.

And so, here I am today in Chicago, doing what I love to do, and finding new ways to challenge myself each day. If I could leave you with one piece of “wisdom” I have learned since finishing my English degrees, it would be this: Don’t panic if you don’t land a job writing right out of the gate, and don’t get down on yourself if you’re still not sure what you want to do when you graduate (okay, that was two pieces of advice). You might fall in love with something that’s not considered a “writing” job. And if you don’t, just getting your foot in the door with a company is the first step—you can transition within or beyond the company to best suit your needs later. Ultimately, a little exploring is not a bad thing. Enjoy the journey. Then write about it!

About these ads

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s