Blog Series Banner (Stars to Steer By)

Alyssa Allyn

Alyssa Allyn is originally from Culver, Indiana, but is now a resident of Michigan. During her time at Ball State she majored in English with a concentration in Creative Writing and a minor in Graphic Arts. She graduated in May 2014. Since graduating, she’s moved to Interlochen, Michigan and is now in her second year as a Hall Counselor. Her first year she looked after 37 teenage girls and 1 boy, and this year she looks after 17 teenage boys. 

  1. You’re working in Michigan at the Interlochen Arts Academy boarding high school as a Hall Counselor. Are you thinking about a career in Student Affairs or Residence Life? How has your degree helped you in the work that you do?

When I first started working at Interlochen, it was purely a transition job. I had never really thought of myself as someone who would work in Student Affairs, but the more time I spend with these students and the longer I stay at Interlochen, I can’t imagine not working in Student Affairs, especially here. I’ve always been a people person, and these past two years I’ve been able to let myself learn and grow into a more confident leadership role. I find myself passionate about what I get to do every day. I get to find different ways to make the experience at Interlochen better for our students, and catch a tiny snapshot of their lives as they pass through high school. I get to be that embarrassing “parent” at performances. It’s one of the hardest yet easiest jobs I’ve ever had. I’ve unexpectedly fallen in love with it. It doesn’t even feel like a job!

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Alyssa winter roving with her co-worker Liz.

My degree has helped in the following ways:

  • Writing grade reports about each of my 17 students 4 times a year (68 total). They all have to be individualized and different each time.
  • Editing and helping kids thing through college applications/essays, scholarship essays, and class essays, poems, short stories
  • Writing/reading daily emails – more than I would care to count
  • Interacting with parents, other faculty, and staff via email daily
  • Teaching students how to write professional emails and have professional interactions by demonstration
  • Being in high level stress situations and needing to get my point across clear and concise
  • Connecting with them about reading their art in front of people and having people hear what they have to say

2. What does your typical day look like?

There’s no such thing as a typical day for me right now, but that would be nice. Most days, I don’t start work until 4:00pm because most nights I’m working until 12:00am and I’m not in bed until 1:30am. At 4:00pm, I most likely start a desk shift, which means answering parent phone calls, replying to emails, signing students off campus, and much more. Around 6:00pm I get off to grab dinner in the cafeteria where I’ll be able to see some of my kids, probably for the first time that day. Up next, if it’s Monday, I’ll do room inspections which is exactly what it sounds like–making sure that all 17 of my boys have cleaned their rooms that week. Most of the time I’m very proud. Then from 9:00pm-12:00am I will sit in the lobby and close my building for the night. It’s my favorite part of the day because this is when I get to see and talk to all of my kids. I get to hear how their days were, if they passed their tests, how their pre-screenings went, and everything in between. The lobby will close at 11:00pm and one of the students will come to clean it, they’ll all go to bed, and I will walk around checking lights out at 12:00am. If I’m lucky, no one needed to be taken to urgent care that day, then it’s off to bed to do something similar the next day.

3. Was there a particular class in the English major or a particular faculty member who influenced you?

I recently found the folder on my computer with all of my papers I’d written in college and got a good couple of laughs out of what I read through. After workshops, I had a couple of professors ask me, “Are you okay, is everything alright at home?” and I never really understood why. After re-reading my stuff I see: I wrote some dark things in college.

Among all of that, I found a paper for Rai Peterson’s ENG347. It was supposed to be a literary analysis, but somewhere along the lines I missed the mark. I read The Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut and I had worked my butt off writing the paper because I was so in love with it (that book is now one of my favorites). When I got the grade back I was devastated. But long story short, even though I missed the mark, something in me was still unabashedly proud of that paper and the ideas and words I put into it. That’s something that I’ve carried with me since. I try to remind myself to be confident in my heart and gut everyday. Nearly failing that paper taught me that lesson, and Rai opened my eyes to the world of books in a whole other way. I’m forever thankful for that.

4. Do you have any advice for English majors who are trying to figure out what comes next in their lives? What advice do you have if they’d like to do something like what you’re doing now?

Someone told me last year, “Stop thinking about what you are going to do next and focus on how you can make where you are right now the best it can be for you, and everyone else around you.” This has been my silent reminder when I start to doubt myself and start to say, “But what about my degree?” I think it’s really important to know where you want to go, but you should be open to the way you’re going to get there. I’ve learned more about myself and who I want to be professionally and as a human being in general from working with teenagers these past two years. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. It’s kind of amazing what you can learn and where you can learn it from when you’re not even expecting it! Just be open to all of it, every experience and interaction. It’s all significant, you just might not know it yet.


Check Out These Awesome Internships for English Majors

As an English student, you’ve probably heard dire predictions about your career prospects. Well, we’re here to tell you that they’re all wrong: an English degree is one of the most sought-after degrees for contemporary employers. As an English student, you know how to communicate effectively and adapt to different platforms, and that’s a skill that will serve you well in your professional life.

Sometimes, though, it takes some convincing for employers to realize that. One of the best ways to make your skills very clear for both you and future employers is to do an internship in writing, publishing, communications, marketing, PR, or other related fields. Just ask Daniel Brount, a #bsuenglish major who recently worked at DAW Books and The Rights Factory in glamorous New York City.

While I was part of the New York Arts Program, I interned at DAW Books, a fantasy/sci-fi publisher at Penguin Random House, and The Rights Factory, a literary agency. At DAW Books, I read and evaluated more than 100 manuscripts. Through this process, I learned how to write both reader’s reports and rejection letters. I also worked on organizing the company’s publicity information for its current authors, created title information sheets, catalogued books, helped with social media, edited cover text, and fulfilled general internship duties. At The Rights Factory, I also read manuscripts, but those manuscripts were from authors the agency already represented. I did editorial work for some of those manuscripts, ranging from a memoir to a graphic novel. In addition, I worked on client proposals, wrote pitch letters, and created lists of editors to submit different projects to. At each internship, I fulfilled a variety of roles in the publication process for several types of literature.

These experiences sparked Daniel’s professional growth, and they can do the same for you. There are always employers—around Muncie, Indiana, and the entire country—looking for smart and capable communicators able to adapt to increasing communications demands and shifting communications platforms.

Below, we’ve selected some of the best current internships available for #bsuenglish majors. Check them out, and regularly check the Jobs and Internships page on this blog for an updated list. Finally, if you’re currently completing or recently completed an internship, drop us a line and we’d be happy to feature your story in our next installment.

Journalism Intern at
 HSPA Foundation in Indianapolis (Feb 26, 2016)

The Pulliam Internship for the HSPA Foundation is a summer internship that places students at newspapers near them in the state of Indiana. The internship offers experience in reporting, photography, multimedia, graphic arts, and other areas of newspaper publishing both in print and online.

Visit their internships page to apply.

Magazine Writer / Marketing and Social Media Intern for
 Hope For Women LLC in Muncie (March 28, 2016)

Hope For Women is seeking writers to contribute to their growing digital/online/print women’s magazine. Your writing should grab their readers’ attention with interesting and urgent news, especially through articles about women who are changing the world as we know it. If you are excited and/or interested in this opportunity, they ask that you write a few sentences that would help describe your personality, and tell them why you would be a great contributor to their magazine. Also attach your résumé and any writing sample(s).

Hope For Women is also seeking interns with experience dealing with Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram, Google + etc. to implement marketing strategies via these channels and maintain the pages with posts, links, videos, and articles. They need interns to bring new ideas and marketing techniques to their readers and their current plan.

Visit Cardinal Career Link to apply.

Digital Media Intern at
 Children’s Bureau Inc. in Indianapolis (April 1, 2016)

Children’s Bureau Inc. is seeking a motivated designer/wordsmith to produce content for their various social media platforms. This intern will work with the Children’s Bureau communications coordinator to educate and engage multiple audiences. Digital Media interns will plan weekly social media content, create graphics to use on social media, track social media metrics, and assist with creating email campaigns.

Visit Cardinal Career Link to apply.

Marketing Intern at
 Bloomerang in Indianapolis (April 4, 2016)

Bloomerang is looking for a qualified intern to work alongside the marketing team and participate in various stages of offline and online marketing campaigns. He or she will be involved in content creation and social media managing, work in a fast-paced team environment, and will finish the internship having gained broad experience in various aspects of marketing.

Visit Cardinal Career Link to apply.

Brand Marketing / Graphic Design / Public Relations Intern at
 Cook Medical in Bloomington (April 22, 2016)

Cook Medical, a leader in developing healthcare devices that improve lives around the world, is seeking candidates for their Marketing Communications Internship Program. Interns at Cook will be involved in the strategic planning of marketing opportunities, creating brand management strategies, and writing articles for internal publications.

Visit their careers page to apply for this internship.

Blog Series Banner (Good News)


In the latest installment of the “Good News” series, the Ball State English Department highlights the accomplishments of our faculty and students.

rethinking cover

Prof. Lyn Jones and her teaching students recently published the second issue of “Rethinking Children’s and Young Adult Literature.” The interactive magazine features dialogue with authors, original and rewritten stories, and teacher resources for the classroom. The goal is to share innovative, diverse stories for children who are lacking representation, who deserve “stories about children like them, about families like theirs, about experiences they have, about lives they actually live.” This issue focuses on LGBTQ issues in children’s and young adult works. The magazine is available online through the BSU Now app.

Professor Cathy Day‘s panel for the 2015 Association of Writers and Writing Programs was recorded for the AWP podcast series, and is now available for listening. “How I Taught Then, How I Teach Now” covers five teachers’ active awareness of their changing assumptions in the classroom, and how it ultimately changed their courses for the better.

Dr. Frank Felsenstein published “Smollett’s Use of ‘Seafarot’: A Long Standing Textual Crux Resolved,” in January’s Notes and Queries, published by Oxford University Press.

Prof. Emily Scalzo has three senryu accepted for publication in 7×20The online magazine publishes fiction and poetry exclusively on Twitter. Her work will be revealed in the third week of February, so be sure to follow!

Prof. Angela Jackson-Brown‘s play, ANNA’S WINGS, has been accepted as part of the 2016 Diva Fest, which is presented through the generosity of Ellen and Richard Shevitz in association with IndyFringe, Andrew Black, and the Indiana Writers Center. The play will debut on April 2nd and April 10th at the Indy Eleven Theatre in Indianapolis. In the past month Angela also:
  • was a featured poet at The Bards Town in Louisville, KY, sponsored by New Southerner Literary Journal.
  • taught a class at the Indiana Writers Center entitled, “Whose Story Is It Anyway: The Importance of Point of View.” On Saturday, February 20th she will be teaching a workshop called Revision 101.

Dr. Rai Peterson has two articles recently in print:

  • “Low Rank, High Brow: The ‘Adolescent’ War Writing of E. E. Cummings and Kurt Vonnegut” is available in Spring: The Journal of the E. E. Cummings Society.
  • “Parallax: Nancy Cunard’s Knowing Response to T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land” is available in Studies in the Humanities.

Alumni Abby Higgs has a series of essays, “My Life with Annie Lennox,” appearing on The Rumpus.

Undergraduate Luke Bell had poetry accepted for publication in the upcoming SLAB magazine.

Ball Stat12642878_808955794327_3949055353494235587_ne graduate students organized another successful Practical Criticism Midwest Conference! “Out of the Shadows” featured panels and themed work (including those fantastic doggerels) by current Ball State students as well as students from other universities. The keynote address was delivered by Ball State alumnus and current Taylor University faculty member Aaron Housholder. Congratulations all, and thanks for all your hard work!

Dr. Robert Habich’s review of Emerson’s Protégés: Mentoring and Marketing Transcendentalism’s Future by David Dowling appeared in the Autumn 2015 issue of Emerson Society Papers. His essay “An Emerson Bibliography, 2014” was published in the same issue.

Prof. Jill Christman‘s essay, “Going Back to Plum Island” has been published in River Teeth, which is also available on Project Muse through our library’s database. In addition, her essay “On Kindness” has been accepted for publication by Brain, Child magazine.

Dr. Joyce Huff‘s essay, “The Narrating Stomach: Appetite, Authority and Agency in Sydney Whiting’s 1853 Memoirs of a Stomach” has been published in Body Politics, an online journal based in Germany.