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Hold Onto Your Passion: Advice from Audra Dittlinger

Stars to Steer By presents Audra Dittlinger, a Marketing Content Manager and Client Experience Director.  

How would you describe your job?Audra Dittlinger

I would describe my job as fast paced, exciting, and unpredictable. It’s a mixture of editing, brainstorming, and creating some amazing content for a start-up company that is growing quicker than we ever thought possible!

What does a typical work day look like for you?

A “typical” work day depends on the day. I am able to work about 75% remotely, with the other 25% happening onsite, usually at our office headquarters. On my work-from-home days, I get up, check in with my team, and work through daily tasks. Since our company is still relatively small, all team members are able to take on multiple positions at the same time. My day may consist of mostly writing and editing, or I may find myself conducting interviews with prospective customers. It’s never the same and it’s certainly never boring. The days that I am able to spend in the office are often charged with enthusiastic co-workers and inspirational leadership. Team meetings are perfect opportunities for us to collaborate and afterwards we all leave the office feeling recharged. It’s a relief, really. A lot of times, meetings can get a bad reputation in the corporate world. In our company, we’re constantly innovating and creating so we all get jazzed about coming together for a meeting of the minds.

How did having an English major affect your career path?

My English major heavily affected my career path. I graduated as a married adult with a 2 year old toddler at home. I was not a traditional student. At the time that I graduated, I was actually going into my 9th year of being an insurance agent. I had known for years that my true love is writing and editing, and that is what I wanted in my life. I wasn’t going to stop until I found it. After multiple freelance gigs, I finally landed my “dream job,” if you will.

What skills did you pick up in your major that have proved useful in your job?

I picked up a lot of useful skills in my major, but I think the most useful was that it really honed my craft as an editor and it allowed me to be more patient than I would have otherwise been. I now have a distinct process when editing, something I could have only learned through my classes as an English major. I now slow down and I perfect my work. I am not naturally patient, but as a writer, I can block out the world and take my time.

Is there a particular class or professional opportunity that you remember having a big impact on you?

I was in a few classes led by Dr. Rai Peterson (Rai, as most English majors know her) and she definitely had an impact on me. I took two classes with her on campus and one online course. She really boosted my confidence and I’ll never forget the first time she wrote “You’re a writer!” at the top of one of my papers. It was one of the first times in my adult life that I really felt that I was moving in the right direction.

What advice would you give current English majors?

My advice would absolutely be this: hold on to what you love. If you really love Sci-Fi lit, hold onto that. If you really love Vonnegut, keep studying him. If you really love to edit, keep finding ways to do it. I let go of something that I loved to do and I spent 10 years of my life running in place and not living up to my potential. As soon as I found my passion again, I never let myself forget that feeling. That feeling is what drove me and what really helped me land my dream job. Don’t let people tell you English majors “have to be teachers.” Prove them wrong. It’s in you.

Blog Series Banner (Recommended Reads)

Bethany Stayer Recommends “Supernatural”

In this post, English MA student Bethany Stayer recommends something a little off the beaten path as far as “reads” go. She recommends spending cold winter nights watching the television series, Supernatural.

Why should we watch this, Bethany?

If you haven’t already delved into the cultural phenomenon that is Supernatural, the seemingly endless summer hours offer you the perfect chance. Supernatural follows the adventures of Sam and Dean Winchester, two brothers who travel the country hunting demons, spooks, and anything that goes “bump” in the night (or any other time of day really). A perfect mix of horror, humor, supernatural-season-and intertextual elements that draw on myths, folktales, and superstitions from around the world, Supernatural will have you hitting “Keep Watching” again and again. There really is something for everyone here.

I’ll admit, the first season can be a little rough to sift through; it is kind of like a watching a toddler try to fit those little shape blocks into the correct holes. You know they’re going to get it right, you just have to be patient, and your patience is well worth the wait. In the beginning episodes they are finding themselves, but once you make it to season two you’ll be glad you did.  By the time season three rolls around, you’ll be hooked. The characters really develop, the writing dramatically improves, and you become unwittingly engrossed in the story of the Winchesters. Watching the actors, writers, and characters improve and learn before your eyes really is part of the fun of the series. Once things start firing on all cylinders the theme of brotherly love and self sacrifice permeates the plot lines, while the humor and occasionally ridiculous situations keep the story from becoming melodramatic.

It is a truly unique experience that I can’t recommend enough. I do not think there is a television show (or book or movie) that provides such a fun take on the horror genre while developing characters and relationships we really care about, and mixing in actual folklore. I’ve learned a ton about myths and myth creation from this show. Basically, if you enjoy the supernatural/horror genre with a healthy dose of comedy then Supernatural is for you. And even if you don’t think you like this stuff, watch it anyway, there is plenty here to love for pretty much anyone.

Blog Series Banner (Stars to Steer By)

Stars to Steer By: TESOL Information and Next Semester’s Events!

panelThe panel for this event included Nuha Alsalem, Tiffany Ellis, Leslie Erlenbaugh, Shane Lanning, and Matthias Raess. Each speaker had valuable information regarding their experience with teaching abroad and also teaching English as a second language. Students interested in teaching English to non-native speakers should check out the TESOL minor. The minor in TESOL offers the skills and knowledge necessary for teaching English to non-native speakers of English both domestically and internationally. If you are looking to teach abroad, you should look at the Fulbright Scholarship.

If you missed out on the last Stars to Steer By event this semester, have no fear! We’ve got a whole lot more coming to you in the spring semester! Our first event entitled “English Majors Can Make Millions (for Good Causes) with speakers Cheri O’Neill and Bruce Hetrick is scheduled for Tuesday, January 31 at 5 pm in Bracken 104.

Blog Series Banner (Good News)

Profs. Scalzo and Manery Publish Poetry Books (And More November Good News)

Prof. Emily Scalzo had four poems accepted to Scarlet Leaf Review, including “To My Father,” “If the Human Race is the Only Race, Why Does this Shit Still Happen,” “The Omnivore’s Dilemma,” and “The Reason I Blocked You on Facebook.” They are due to be published in December. Also, her poetry chapbook, The Politics of Division, was accepted by Five Oaks Press for publication in 2017.

Prof. Rebecca Manery’s book of poems, View from the Hôtel de l’Étoile, is just out from Finishing Line Press. Individual poems from this collection have been published in Rhino, Bennington Review, and The Body Politic. Becca is a new faculty member at Ball State. Learn more about her here

Elizabeth Dalton, Academic ResearchAimee Taylor- Instructor at BSUProf. Aimee Taylor successfully defended her dissertation, titled “Fat Cyborgs: Body-Positive Activism, Shifting Rhetorics and Body Politics in the Fatosphere.” Prof. Elizabeth Dalton graduated from Spalding University with an MFA in Creative Fiction Writing. Congrats to you both!

Prof. Emily Rutter received an Immersive Learning Micro-Grant for her Fall 2017 course “Storytelling and Social Justice.” The course will facilitate a reciprocal relationship between Ball State undergraduate students and Teamwork for Quality Living, a local nonprofit focused on decreasing poverty in our community. Students will use acquired knowledge to assist Teamwork members in documenting their personal journeys from poverty toward self-sufficiency. These stories will then become part of a short documentary film and an electronic book.

Prof. Susanna Benko and her colleagues, Emily Hodge (Montclair State University) and Serena Salloum (Ball State University) recently had an article published!  The article, “(Un)Commonly Connected: A Social Network Analysis of State Standards Resources for English Language Arts” was just released in AERA Open, an open-access journal sponsored by the American Educational Research Association.   This article is the first publication from their two-year research project.

Prof. Rory Lee’s audio-video project, “Ways of Knowing and Doing in Digital Rhetoric: A Primer,” was published in the most recent issue of enculturation. Professor Lee completed the project with Matthew Davis from the University of Massachusetts Boston and Stephen J. McElroy from Florida State University.

Prof. Michael Begnal published four poems in Empty Mirror. They are titled “Homage to Yoko Ono,” “Elegy for Lou Reed,” “Elegy for Scott Asheton,” and “Homage to André Breton.” Read them here!

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