Professional Writing Alumni Profiles

The Professional Writing major at Miami University was founded in August of 2011, and we are very proud of all of our majors. To provide prospective and current students a snapshot of the diverse and interesting career paths, PW majors take, we offer these profiles of alumni. The information in each is current to the date of the interview with the alumnus.

If you are an alumnus and would like to be profiled, please contact Heidi McKee (mckeeha@miamioh.edu).  

Editing - Publishing

Maggie Ark '16, Contract Coordinator

Maggie Ark was living her dream less than a year after graduation. Her passion for books led her to the Columbia Publishing Course, which helped launch her career in the publishing world of New York City. She now works in contracts for HarperCollins Publishers.

What do you do in your position?

“Whenever an editor has made a deal with an agent to acquire a book, they will have specific deal points that they have agreed upon. Those specification will go in the author’s contract so that we, HarperCollins Publishers, are legally allowed to publish the author’s book. I currently work in children’s, and that’s a lot of what I do. Whenever publishing a book, the publishing house will need to have an underlying agreement with the author. Basically, it’s the author saying, ‘Yes, you can publish my book under your imprint or company name.’

“I just really liked books growing up. I love to read, and I never didn’t have a book in my hand. In publishing, you don’t do it because of the money. You do it because you love it. That being said, it is an absolutely amazing profession. I really enjoy working in contracts specifically because I get to see a book at the very beginning of its life.”

What was your experience in job interviews?

“It’s more about personality, most of the time. Everyone is capable. Everyone has the right grades, internships, and experience, so it’s less about being capable and more about being compatible.”

What learning experiences helped shape you in terms of finding your career path?

“Taking Literary Marketplace [ENG 321] really helped me get an idea of what publishing or editing or being a professional writer would be like. It was a really nice entrance to the world of publishing.

“Miami, in general, is really good about preparing students for what comes next. Not necessarily in terms of what your career is going to be, but in terms of being a capable person in the workforce, no matter the field.”

Interviewed November 2018

Christopher "Kit" Collins '15, Editorial Assistant

Kit CollinsKit Collins graduated Cum Laude with two Bachelor’s degrees in Professional Writing and Psychology, and a minor in Neuroscience.

Kit is currently employed by the Association of Psychological Science (APS) as their Editorial Assistant for the News and Information department - more specifically for their magazine, the Observer.  Kit also writes for their blogs, Minds on the Road and Minds for Business, and his first feature article was just published in the beginning of September. His favorite part of his position at APS is working with a close-knit nonprofit organization and writing for an audience of approximately 24,000 including many academicians and psychologists.

As an undergraduate, Kit took more writing classes than he needed to because he “wanted all the experience Miami could offer.” One of his favorite classes was Print and Digital Editing because it provided crucial experiences for both successfully applying and transitioning to his professional career.

Kit’s best advice for Professional Writing students is to take advantage of how diverse the Professional Writing Program is by using it to gain the experience you need for your future career path. If you can find the niche of the program that fits your dream job, take any and every class you can that will help you reach your goal. 

Interviewed September 2016

Jessica Gonsiewski '18, Instructional Designer and Writer

Jessica Gonsiewski works as an instructional designer and writer for Xcelerate Media in Columbus, Ohio. While at Miami, she worked as an Intervention and Acceleration Intern for McGraw-Hill and as a Marketing and Communication Intern for Miami. Jessica said the classes and connections she found at Miami were indispensable to her career.

What sparked your interest in your current field of publication and e-learning?

“I was interesting in educational publishing mainly, and that was enhanced with my internship at McGraw-Hill. E-learning is pretty similar, and it’s been really interesting so far.”

How did you leverage your PW major in your job search?

“PW was really helpful, because the classes and professors give you the freedom to focus on what you want to focus on.  Most people have not heard of the PW major—I don’t know if they have that major at a ton of other schools, so employers are immediately curious. I think emphasizing the wide array of skills that PW gives you a really interesting way in interviews to introduce them to it. You can say it’s everything—it’s technical writing, it’s editing, it’s publishing, it’s whatever you make it.”

What advice do you have for current PW students?

“I would say to take as many classes as possible in things that you don’t think you’re interested in. For example, with technical writing [ENG 313], I would not have thought of that as something interesting, but it actually turned out amazing and super helpful. Another thing is to do some internships, because it’s really helpful in determining what you want out of your career. I would also say reach out to any connections you have. My boss at my internship at Miami really helped prepare me in terms of interviewing.”

Interviewed December 2018

Scott Sprague '13, Assistant Editor for Motion Picture Advertising Agency

Scott SpragueScott Sprague graduated from Miami with a B.A. in Professional Writing and a B.A. in Interactive Media Studies.

Scott currently works as an Assistant Editor in Los Angeles for Wild Card, a creative advertising company that creates theatrical motion picture campaigns. Recent movie trailers that Wild Card and Scott have worked on include Alien Covenant, War for the Planet of the Apes, and Arrival.

As a junior Professional Writing major at Miami, Scott worked as an intern for a L.A. company called Bandito Brothers where he worked on a number of media projects, including creating promotional videos for the X-Games. After interning in Los Angeles on the production scene, Scott knew that he wanted to return to California to work after graduation. The internship he held in the Professional Writing major helped him secure his current position.

Scott draws on the design and rhetoric skills he gained while studying at Miami because every project that comes across his desk involves rhetoric. Scott says that “Even though I never had classes on video editing, what I learned in the major really helped in learning how to balance that scale of being creative and efficient.”

His final words of advice to Miami students are to “pursue things as aggressively as you can.” and to not limit yourself to one location, because you never know what kind of careers are out there waiting to be discovered. He found his dream job out in California, an opportunity he got from his Professional Writing internship and from his pursing every chance that came his way.

Interviewed September 2016  

Education - Educational Communications

Devin Arbenz '17, Associate Consultant in Instructional Design

Devin ArbenzDevin Arbenz graduated from Miami University in January of 2017, with a double major in Professional Writing and Strategic Communications.

She is currently an associate consultant in instructional design at Tier1 Performance Solutions, which is a consulting firm in Covington, Kentucky. Tier1’s main purpose is to improve employee performance, and Devin writes content for eLearning modules, as well as other training tools, that are tailored to specific companies.

While she was still at Miami, Devin worked at King Café and was a prominent member of Alpha Psi Omega, a service fraternity on campus. During her time as an executive board member of this organization, Devin felt that she was able to transfer her writing and communication skills from class to communicating effectively with her peers.

Devin says that the most valuable thing she took away from her time as a Professional Writing student was that she learned how to change her voice while writing to suit the needs of her audience. In her capstone, she was able to practice and perfect her ability to write in a variety of ways and settings, and she carried that into her career.

When giving advice to future and current Professional Writing students, Devin was adamant about students branding themselves as strong writers, because it’s such a valuable skill set. Even though you have a degree in writing and a resume to prove it, she still insisted that it never hurts to bring up skills you’ve picked up in editing and proofreading. Her final piece of advice was to always bring writing samples to interviews because you never know how much it could help prove your writing prowess. 

Interviewed February 2017

Alicia Auhagen '16, Copywriter/Editor

At Miami, Alicia majored in Professional Writing with a minor in 2D Media Studies. She currently works for Miami University Communications and Marketing, where she writes and edits copy for recruitment publications aimed at various audiences. Her job consists of writing feature stories, and providing strategic content marketing direction while working with designers, photographers, news writers, and other team members.

Professional Writing provides a framework for approaching and thinking about communication

“Not only do we learn how to craft compelling and effective messages, we learn how to analyze other communications across all forms of media. Being able to peel back the layers of a message, figure out what is trying to be conveyed, and understand the context around that message helps us to be more discerning and empathetic individuals.”

Leveraging the skills of the PW major

“The skills we learn in PW are not industry specific, and I see this as an advantage. Industries can be learned, but strong communication skills are fundamental in any role. When you apply for a job with a clear resume, strong writing samples, and engaging cover letter, you already have a leg up.”

Advice to current students

Alicia recommends that PW majors participate in as many internship experiences as possible, and to get an early start. “The best way to learn what kind of work you like to do is to get out there and try different ones. Not only are internship experiences useful self-discovery tools, but they can lead to full-time employment and connect you with people who might help you out down the road.”

Interviewed November 2018

Bradley Rhodes '16, Web Coordinator

Bradley Rhodes

Bradley Rhodes graduated with a Professional Writing major and a double minor in Interactive Media Studies and English Literature.

He is currently working for Miami University as a Marketing/Communications Web Content Manager, while going to graduate school at the university. He often finds himself referring to his old class websites to assist in his work, and the best part of his job is that it allows him to be creative, while still employing all the skills he learned as an undergraduate, such as design and rhetoric.   

Bradley was attracted to the Professional Writing program because “it’s probably the only major where you don’t write merely to write.” He appreciated the real-world applicability of the major and the diverse understandings of what writing is, including how writing involves coding, images, and other digital media.

His advice to Professional Writing students is simple – keep your options open. Bradley emphasized that while transferring skills learned in class to an actual specific career can be challenging, if you keep your options open and realize how applicable your skills are to a variety of positions, you can take your degree from this program to all kinds of amazing places.

Interviewed September 2016

Samantha Silber '16, Middle Childhood Education Program

Samantha Silber double-majored in Professional Writing and Creative Writing. She is in the teaching licensure program at Ohio Dominican University focusing on middle childhood education with a specialization in language arts and mathematics. When she’s not teaching, Silber is working on her novels. As she describes below, Professional Writing helps her in and outside of the classroom.

How did the PW major prepare you for your field?

“I truly believe the skills learned in a PW major apply to any field. Everyone can benefit from strong communication skills. My major prepared me to communicate with audiences of all types and in various styles and genres, in ways that are succinct, persuasive, informative, and engaging. As a teacher, this helps me to navigate communication with students of many ages and abilities, with administration and teams of peers, and with parents and families.

“The skills involved in writing a strong paper like organizing one’s thoughts and resources in a logical manner also help in organizing a lesson plan and sequencing course material. Choosing the appropriate words, vocabulary, and tone can produce more effective lessons. Being able to create effective presentations, graphic organizers, activities, tests, and speeches, all utilize professional writing and design. Knowing how to research effective practices, write about them, and being self-reflective have also helped me to be successful in my coursework.”

What advice would you give to a current PW students to help them get the most out of their time at Miami and their time as a PW major?

“Take advantage of as many opportunities as you can! Take classes in things you are seriously considering a career in, go to events, ask your peers and professors questions in and out of class, use professional development opportunities like resume reviews and interview days. The school puts together so many great resources and it’s easy to get too busy or tired to take advantage of them, but they can be so helpful in preparing for the future.”

What advice would you give to current PW majors to help them get launched in and be successful in their careers?

“Start preparing now. I kept putting off making decisions about my future when I should have been thinking about it every day and using all the resources and classes and advisors available to me to get ready for it. You almost have to treat it like a class. Decide on one or a few potential career paths you really want to follow, research how many jobs in the field are out there, where they are, the skills you need to be successful in them and the kinds of jobs, experiences, activities and classes that will help you acquire these skills, then make plans and goals that will help you go where you want to go.Also hang on to work you are proud of! Employers often ask for writing samples.”

Interviewed November 2018

Kate Stoneburner '17, Content Writer

Kate Stoneburner’s time at Miami University was spent as the public relations chair for the Choraliers, a campus-sponsored music group, and as a member of the Treblemakers. Her true passion for writing was discovered when she started grant writing for the Joe Nuxhall Miracle League. In her own words, “I doubt I’ll ever get burnt out writing about people’s visions for improving their field.” She currently uses her talents as a content writer for Campbell University in North Carolina.

Versatility is key as a PW major

“For me, it was all about ‘real’ work experience. I had zero luck finding work at first, even with what I thought were two excellent nonprofit writing internships under my belt. The classic conundrum of  ‘How I can I get experience if no one will hire me without experience?’ was incredibly frustrating to me. After none of the applications I sent out as a senior panned out, I took a job in direct marketing right after graduation. It turned out to be a rollercoaster of emotions and learning curves. I was a mediocre saleswoman, but my boss was more than happy to let me take over social media and start a blog on sales skills for our office. After my resume sported a ‘real’ post-grad position with PR, I started applying again. I instantly got more interviews and very happily left to start my current job.”

Don’t be afraid to make connections

“The most helpful classes were certainly the ones that helped me create a well-rounded portfolio. I got the most interviews and positive feedback from employers who saw the writing I did for journalism classes, PRISM experience, the PW track Grant Writing course [ENG 413]. Any writing experience working with outside organizations, or even student organizations, will be incredibly helpful to leverage if you’ve done a decent job. My advice is to write independently and keep applying!”

Advice to current PW students

“Such a cliche, but seriously, just do you. Take the track courses that you’re most interested in, write in the style that you think you do best, and the right job will eventually come to you! Get off Instagram and stop being jealous of peers who found an awesome writing job right off the bat. If you haven’t found your dream job right away, do SOMETHING in the meantime. Be creative and you’ll find a way to leverage it on your resume. Keep writing, too!”

Interviewed November 2018

Graduate School

Drake Long '17, Graduate Student

Drake Long explored a handful of career options after graduation. He first moved to China to teach English at Sun Yat-Sen University before later returning to the U.S. to work in state government. After that, Drake worked at a newspaper covering political beats and then at a think tank before pursuing his current ambition: earning his M.A. in Conflict Resolution at Georgetown University, while continuing to work as a freelance reporter.

Leveraging the PW major in the career world

“The different courses I took were fantastic. I'm versed in legal writing, I can do grant writing, (which is especially important down here at think tanks), and technical writing, which is a skill not a lot of people have. I emphasize my major, because it gave me this ability to communicate effectively on so many topics. I can get versed in something very, very quickly just by reading a text and taking notes on it. PW really taught me just how much you can stretch different passions and your different skills to so many different fields.”

A plethora of career paths

“What I learned at Miami was that in something like professional writing, which is such a flexible and transferable skill, there's no reason to pin yourself down that young. I went to China, I came back.  I worked in state government for a little bit just to kind of acclimate myself. Then I worked for a newspaper, then I worked for a think tank. Now I'm in grad school, and I work in academic research and there are all sorts of opportunities down the line. So I would say that the professional career that Miami gave me taught me not to pigeon-hole myself and be open to different things.”

Advice to current PW students

“There are great faculty in the PW major and if you collaborate with them they can show you all sorts of opportunities out there. I mean the job I got in China was actually through a Miami professor. So at Miami in general, the fact that you can access professors so easily is a useful thing to take advantage of. I would also advise majors to just be confident. I just tell everybody, recognize that you have a skill—own it and kind of take that forward with you.”

Interviewed November 2018

Legal - Law School

LaQues Harrison '15, Teacher Turned Lawyer

LaQues HarrisonLaQues Harrison graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in both Professional Writing and Sociology. She is currently a student at the Ohio State University Moritz College of Law.

LaQues chose law school after working for Teach for America in Nashville, where she taught both English and History after graduating from Miami. Her experience teaching made her realize that the inequities she saw in the education system and in society at large had to be challenged and changed, and so she decided to enroll in law school. 

Since graduating from Miami, LaQues says everything she’s done has been writing-based. She’s written lesson plans, taught students, written countless law school essays, legal documents, and presentations that all have a basis in rhetoric and writing that she draws on from her days as an undergraduate in the Professional Writing program.

While she was an undergraduate, LaQues did everything in her power to make sure she got the most out of her education. While she was a senior, she held three campus positions for the Office of Residence Life, for University Communications and Marketing, and for Career Services. She also was the president of three organizations, one of which she founded called Generation Miami.

Her advice is simple—challenge yourself. LaQues says, “Professional Writing is a great major for careers—there are so many options, and a writing background can play into any career, and is a strength that will set you apart from other applicants.” She also urges students to take classes outside their comfort zones just to gain experience, because you never know how an engineering class could influence your writing. 

Interviewed March of 2017

Michael Heavilon ’15, Associate Attorney

After graduating with a major in Professional Writing, Michael Heavilon attended Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law, graduating in 2018. With his passion for advocacy, he now works as an Associate Attorney at Lewis Wagner in Indianapolis, Indiana, where he specializes in the fields of commercial and real estate litigation.

Why PW

“I became a Professional Writing major on a whim. I came in undecided and during orientation found out about the major and signed up without knowing anything about it. Through a series of events, I wound up as a lawyer in the beautiful city of Indianapolis, something I could not imagine when I signed up for the major. The major’s flexibility allows you to go down a variety of paths and still find success, and I am so grateful that I took advantage of it.”

PW major as preparation for a career in law

“My experience as a Professional Writing major prepared me for the variety of writing that the legal field requires. Writing a memo summarizing the law to the partners of the law firm versus directly advocating for the clients through correspondence with the court or opposing counsel requires different tones. Understanding your audience is a foundational aspect of rhetoric, and the Professional Writing major helped me hone in on that skill early. Obviously the legal writing [ENG 316] class helped prepare me for law school, as the class almost exactly mirrored a first-year law school writing course, but technical writing [ENG 313] also helped me greatly by teaching me to focus on not only the content but also the usability of my work product.”

PW and the career search and interviewing process

“Professional Writing is a fairly unique major and tends to jump off the page at interviews. People will often ask about what the major entails, which gives me an opportunity to expand upon the program’s broad applicability and practical training it provides. Especially in the legal field, talking about using rhetorical strategies in modern contexts shows an understanding of arguments as well as audiences, both of which are vital to becoming an effective lawyer.”

Advice to current PW majors

“Think creatively about how you can use your skills in the future. Every business needs good writers and will love to have somebody that can communicate effectively. Use that need to your advantage; offer up writing samples and portfolios of designs you have done to show how well you can turn an idea into an end product.

“Also, get involved in an organization to show that you can commit to a team and take on some leadership within that group. Working in business requires teamwork and employers will love to see that you can work with others. Work hard from day one and ask a lot of questions.

“The Professional Writing major crafts the skills you need to succeed, but your first job gives you the knowledge of when and where to use those skills. Absorb as much as you can from a boss or mentor as you start and try to pick up on what they do well. Your skills will stay sharp, so as long as you learn the substance of the work that your perform you will achieve success.”

Ashley Laughlin '14, OSU Moritz College of Law Student

Ashley LaughlinAshley Laughlin graduated with a major in Professional Writing and a minor in Political Science. She is currently a third-year law student at the The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law. She plans to pursue a career in real estate law in Columbus, Ohio, when she graduates.

Ashley frequently draws on the knowledge and skills from her Professional Writing coursework in her legal studies. From writing briefs and legal communications to making oral arguments and giving formal presentations, she uses rhetoric and the art of argumentation daily.

While at Miami, she was heavily involved on campus. Ashley was a member of Alpha Delta Pi sorority, a freelance journalist for the Miami Student, and a board member for both the state-wide and campus College Republicans. 

If she were to offer advice to current and future Professional Writing students pursuing careers and graduate school, she says to make sure you don’t downplay your writing ability. “Send in writing samples, talk up your experiences.  Writing is really valuable--the one skill employers look for that many people don’t have,” she says. 

Interviewed March of 2017

Samuel Seeds '15, Lawyer

Law school was always a goal for Samuel Seeds. Immediately after earning his Professional Writing degree he enrolled in Indiana University’s law school for his J.D. He passed the Ohio Bar Exam and is now a licensed lawyer holding the position of Associate at Dinsmore & Shohl LLP in Columbus, Ohio. Specifically, he works in the Estate Planning Group, a subset of the Tax, Benefits and Wealth Planning division of the company.

What skills learned in PW have you found applicable to the field of law?

“Specific skills: Essay Development and Audience Awareness. Essay Development is the phrase I use to describe the crafting of an essay from beginning to end: brainstorming, researching, organizing, drafting, editing, revising, several more rounds of editing/revising, and finally polishing. This is a critical skill set to have both in law school and in my position.

“Audience Awareness is important because I need to be cognizant of who will be reading the document in the future. If the document is a client letter, I need to turn down the legalese and focus on building rapport. If I’m working on a research memo, I’m normally writing for one of my superiors, so the technical language is acceptable, but the voice, complexity, and detail may still change depending on whether the partner wants me to provide an opinion or provide general analysis of a topic. Finally, if the document is a legal document (will, trust, etc.), although it is drafted to aid a client, it will ultimately be read by a court. Technical language is thus required, as is the highest level of detail and complexity as warranted based by the situation.”

Talking about PW with potential employers

“A lot of it is selling what PW ‘is.’ Professional Writing is an uncommon and, from my experience, not a typical major. I explain that PW is a fusion of technical analysis and rhetorical composition focused on a broad spectrum of non-fiction content development; from breaking down the rhetorical moves of a text, to speech writing, to grant and proposal writing, and on to the development of the user experience and user-oriented design of a text. My education in PW taught me to analyze the subject, content, and intended (and unintended) audiences of a text, which is critical for the legal profession.”

Advice to current PW students

“Find a mentor who can give you advice on how to access your field and who can vouch for you/provide access to the desired field. And do research, read blogs, talk to people that are involved in the field – being informed will pay dividends in interviews.”

Interviewed November 2018

Library Science

Anne Meuser '14, Children's Librarian

After graduating, Anne attended the University of Pittsburgh School of Information Sciences where she earned her Master of Library and Information Science degree. She is now a children’s services librarian at Johnson County Public Library in Indiana.

Why did you pick your career?

“While at Miami I was doing a double major in Professional Writing and Education, and what I initially thought was that I wanted to pair writing and education. I eventually found that education was not the path I wanted to go down, but I wanted to use my skills less in direct education in a classroom but more broadly. So librarianship was the happy marriage between all things because I get to use my writing degree a little bit, but across all ages, and still use my education expertise without being contained to a classroom.”

How do you use professional writing in your career?

“Lots of those PW skills transferred very easily to librarianship. Learning how to communicate clearly with lots of different people helps a lot when doing outreach in the community, looking for speakers, or writing publicity pieces. Grant Writing [ENG 413] is also very useful.”

What types of learning experiences helped shape you?

“I really enjoyed the opportunity to take a variety of wide-ranging classes. There was the journalism class where you had to go out and interview people, and then the hard-hitting literature class where you put your nose in the book. I even got so invested in one of my final projects for Digital Writing and Rhetoric [ENG/IMS 224] that I submitted it to a journal [for publication] thinking it wasn’t going to go anywhere, and then it did go somewhere and was published, which was a really great confidence boost.”

What advice would you give to PW students?

“In terms of students interested in librarianship, get as much practical experience as you can! Get internships, go volunteer at your local library, do everything you can to get involved and get your hands in it. That was the most valuable thing that I did, was get practical experience. If something sounds interesting to you, try and get involved as much as you can. And for all PW majors, I would say the same thing kind of applies, take every opportunity you have to get that practical experience.”

Interviewed October, 2018

Liz Winhover '18, Librarian and Master's Student

While at Miami, Liz Winhover majored in Professional Writing and minored in General Business. After graduating a semester early, she began working as a Teen Librarian for the Lima Public Library while also taking classes through Kent State to earn a Masters in Library Information and Sciences (MLIS). ________________________________________

The PW major offers variety

“I think the most helpful thing I learned from the major was just how diverse it was. The major teaches you good writing skills, clear communication, etc., but it also shows you so many different ways you can apply those writing skills to your future like business, law, marketing, editing, or future work in rhetoric studies.”

Why PW?

“I didn’t originally know I wanted to be a librarian when I started my college career, but I did know I loved to write. My mom thought that Professional Writing would have a lot of post-graduate employment options, and after looking at the major, I agreed to try PW. It was one of the best choices I’ve fallen into!

“Above all else, the major has given me great writing and communication skills and I think that this showed clearly in my resume and cover letter as I was applying to different jobs.”

Advice to current students

“The biggest advice I would give to current PW students preparing to launch their careers is to be confident in what they’ve studied and to find ways to tie what they’ve learned to their future job. As a PW student, not only can you can write and communicate well, but what else in your past experiences or interests makes you a strong candidate for the position? I would also encourage future PW students to pursue internships in whatever fields they’re interested as soon as possible.

“In order to get as much out of the major as you can, I would also advise students to take a wide variety of courses within the major as a way to expose themselves to as many different writing genres as possible, and get a sense for what they really like. I made a game plan for classes my freshman year, and for the most part, I stuck with it.”

Interviewed December 2018

Media - Marketing Communications

Alison Block ’17, Marketing Coordinator

Alison Block majored in  Professional Writing, and she is a Marketing Coordinator at Oxford University Press in New York City. She serves as the assistant to the Oxford University Press Academic's  Chief Marketing Officer. As she describes below, Alison reached this prestigious position with the help of what she learned in Professional Writing.

How did PW prepare you for your field?

“The variety of writing styles I learned as a PW major has been vital. Being able to not only write well but also being able to rapidly adapt to existing styles and voices has been invaluable as I work on business papers, communicate with our partners, and work on internal communications and training documents for onboarding new marketers. Being able to quickly understand and translate technical terms and theories, and having the skills to design visually dynamic and effective slides/infographics have been huge assets that I first learned in PW.”

How do you leverage the skills that you learned from PW in job interviews?

“Personally, I highlighted my communication skills, technical writing skills, attention to detail, project management skills, and that I take initiative when there are opportunities to do so. You have to find the skills you truly excel at the most, then identify examples of when you accomplished a task using those skills—with bonus points if you can make it directly applicable to the job or company you are applying for!”

What kinds of learning experiences helped shape you, in terms of finding a career path?

“PW is so great because you are able to take a variety of courses and pick from different tracks. My actual jobs and internships showed me what I value in an employer and coworkers while learning what I want to do day-in and day-out—all of which is just as important to know about yourself as having skills to bring to any job.”

Interviewed November 2018

Maddie Broccolo 18,  Business Development Associate

After graduating with her Professional Writing degree, Maddie accepted a position in Chicago, Illinois, at Cision, a global provider of earned media management software and insights to public relations and marketing communications professionals.

How did your Professional Writing major prepare you to enter a career in business?

“As I was job searching, I realized sales would be a good fit because of my language and communication skills. Any job in business requires a high level of communication skills in order to be productive. PW teaches you not only how to communicate on paper but in day-to-day life as well. 

“PW gave me the language skills I needed to craft professional emails to clients and have productive conversations on the phone. I learned a lot about storytelling in my PW classes, which has allowed me to make my business pitch more relatable to prospects.”

Did you feel that you were at a disadvantage applying to jobs compared to business majors?

“Initially, I felt that I was at a disadvantage. But after going on interviews, It may be easier to get your foot in the door with the title of a business major, but it all comes down to how your interview goes and your experience. I have the same title now as a few of my friends who were all business majors.”

What advice would you give to current PW majors to help them get launched in and be successful in their careers?

““For interviews, I think it’s all about how you communicate and present yourself. Use your words and communications skills to relate to the person you interview with. It’s not always about who had the better grades or what your major was, but who’s the best fit for the company and its culture.” 

Interviewed December 2018

Megan Conley '14, Content Marketing Strategist

Graduated with Bachelor’s degrees in Professional Writing and Journalism

Megan ConleyMegan Conley is currently a Content Marketing Strategist at Hubspot, a company located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, that sells and promotes marketing, sales, and customer relation management software.

As a member of Hubspot’s content team, Megan wears many different hats. She considers her position to be multimodal, and she often works in content writing, blogging, design, and video production.

Megan says that she still uses several skills she learned in the Professional Writing program, including the ability to churn out well-written pieces quickly, and understanding rhetoric, which is “so engrained in my mind when I sit down to write” she states. She also regularly uses many of her multi-faceted production skills in her daily work as well.

While she was a student at Miami, Megan was a writer and managing editor for the Miami Quarterly, a member of the Society of Professional Journalists, an intern for the communications department of the College of Arts and Sciences, and a video intern at the Bridges Church. Megan was also a synchronized skater. 

Megan’s advice to current and future Professional Writing students is to “diversify yourself—I hire post-grads all the time, and it’s great to hire someone who’s a writer, but you have to get yourself some DIY design or even Excel skills as well.” Megan stressed the importance of experiential learning and that students should seek experiences to continue to build their learning beyond the classroom.

Interviewed March 2017

Daniel Constable '14, Associate Content Manager

Daniel Constable graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Professional Writing and Bachelor of Science in English Language Arts Education. He is currently an Associate Content Manager at Lurn, Inc. in Rockville, Maryland.

Why did you choose to enter your field?

“To be honest, I kind of fell into my position as a content editor. I wanted to teach when I left school, and I did that for two years. After I finished my contract, I decided that I wanted to take a break from teaching but continue traveling. Because I didn’t want to just bounce around and spend all my money, I started thinking about different ways I could make money on the road. The easiest thing for me to do at that time was to get into freelance writing, so I started doing that and traveling around South America. I didn’t love working as a freelancer, but I appreciated the freedom of working remotely. Since most of the writing work I did was for websites, I ended up doing some social media marketing, SEO [search engine optimization], and web design for my clients as well. I was a bit tired of the hustle of freelancing, so I started applying to different remote positions.”

How did the PW major prepare you for your field? Or, to put it another way, what skills and knowledge did you learn in PW do you find useful in your job?

“The PW major helped me out a lot. I originally wanted to work as an English teacher, so the PW major gave me a lot of content skills that I could use to better serve my students. When you’re going through teacher education programs, you don’t always go as in-depth with content skills because you also have to take courses on classroom management, teaching theory, etc. So I did feel like I was a step ahead of other new English teachers because of that extra academic background that I had. When I stopped teaching, I had a lot of transferable skills as well because being a good writer helps you in every industry.

“I also learned some design skills as part of the major, which has come in handy quite a bit over the last couple of years. I’ve designed some websites and logos for a few clients, and the design knowledge that I have even carries over into little things like creating documents and spreadsheets that look nice and are easy to read. While that sounds a bit boring, being able to make little things like that look nice actually helps you stand out quite a bit. You would be surprised at the amount of professionals who don’t know how to structure documents, create nice presentations, etc.”

What advice would you give to current PW majors to help them get launched in and be successful in their careers?

“Get real experiences. Either find internships or start doing some freelance work while you’re in school. The idea that college students can’t make money off their skills while they’re still in school is ridiculous. You might not be able to charge a ton of money at first, but you could easily find some writing work on Upwork making $10 an hour or more. If you can show someone that you already know how to work with (and manage) clients, you’ll be ahead of anyone who just focused on grades.”

Justine Daley '14, Strategic Account Manager

Justine DaleyJustine Daley graduated with two Bachelor’s degrees in Professional Writing and Psychology, as well as a minor in Interactive Media Studies.

She is currently a Strategic Account Manager at GNGF, a start-up marketing agency out of Cincinnati, Ohio, that creates content and develops marketing strategy specifically for law firms. She has been with GNGF since May of 2014, and she originally started as a content writer, but the fast nature of her start-up allowed her to move up the ladder quickly.

Justine found her company at a Miami career fair, and she also participated in several different types of writing internships in and outside of Miami. Her biggest takeaway from her time as a student at Miami was from group projects, because “it’s something you’ll be doing in the workplace for the rest of your life, and it taught me a lot about working with different people with different skills, and how to best utilize them.”

She also made it very clear that even though her career isn’t just writing, she still uses a variety of skills she learned in the Professional Writing program. “When you’re in college you take the classes,” she says, “but then later you realize that it’s skills and ways of thinking that you don’t even know you’re using.”

When asked what advice she would give to Professional Writing majors in the program now, she said “take every class you can, and don’t limit yourself to your track—my one regret when I think about school is that I wish I had learned this, or taken that class because everything you learn applies to your future. The program really encompasses a lot of critical thinking and skill.”

Interviewed September 2016

Allison Gnaegy '15, Social Media Strategist

Allison graduated from Miami with majors in Professional Writing and Strategic Communication. She now works as a social media strategist at Spectrum, a GLOBALHealth PR partner, helping clients with their social media marketing needs to meet their business goals through publishing, targeting, paid media ads and influencer campaigns. 

What was your favorite part of the PW major?

“One of my favorite aspects of the PW major was the diversity in the interests of my classmates, specifically in the upper level classes. I’m still connected on LinkedIn with a few of my PW classmates out of a usability and user experience class [ENG 414]. One is now a lawyer, another works in publishing, there’s a teacher, a video game developer and someone who owns his own marketing firm." 

What formative experiences at Miami helped you find your career path?

“The most formative experience I had at Miami was through my business fraternity, Pi Sigma Epsilon (PSE). From the very first new member project, PSE members are able to work with real clients on how to improve their marketing initiatives. I loved everything that came along with that consulting--selling the work, getting to know the clients, making a real business impact.”

What campus organizations were you involved in?

“I really threw myself into Miami, and by default ended up on the executive councils of a few different organizations. As I mentioned before, PSE had the largest impact on my experience and I was the Director of Advertising and Promotions for a time. I was also the Director of Marketing for Miami Activities and Programming (MAP), the Secretary for Communications and Media Relations of Associated Student Government (ASG) and served on the Armstrong Student Center Board of Directors.”

Interviewed December 2018 

Alexis Glowka '16, Marketing Communications Specialist

Alexis Glowka, a double major in Professional Writing and Interactive Media Studies, works in Seattle as a Marketing Communications Specialist at the University of Washington. She thinks that being a Miami student prepared her for working in the higher education environment and the marketing world.

About Alexis’ profession

“I handle all marketing needs within the research center and graduate program at the University of Washington. This includes creating all prospective student marketing materials, managing Google digital ads, writing newsletters, managing databases, and managing social media and the website. I like the variety of projects that I get to work on—no day is the same. The skills I learned from the PW major come up every day in marketing.”

Benefit of internships
“I interned at the Cincinnati Symphony and Orchestra, the Mill Creek Watershed (NGO), and the Miami University's Art Museum. I was also part of the AIMS Digital Innovation program where I interned full-time at a startup in Cincinnati during my last semester.

“My internships gave me a preview of what the day-to-day marketing activities are like in a small vs. large nonprofit, a university setting, and in a startup. I worked on projects in my internships that I was able to present as examples of my work in interviews, and it definitely helped to have some real-world experience going into job interviews in competitive job markets.” 

Leveraging PW in job interviews

“The broad education the PW major offers definitely sells itself. I show projects such as the ebook, The Beast: A Handy Guide for the Adventurous Writer that I copyedited, projects showing my skills in Adobe Software, examples from my business and technical writing courses, etc.”

Advice to students

Tip #1: Focus on getting an internship. “Don't wait until your last year to get an internship. It's so, so important to have experience outside the classroom. Employers look for it and they certainly notice if a candidate doesn't have any.  On a similar note, try to diversify your internship experiences and where you intern.”

Tip #2: Join student organizations.There's a plethora of great student-run organizations on campus that you can get valuable ‘resume-worthy’ experience from—whether that's submitting work into one of the many literary magazines, or serving as an editor, social media manager, or website editor for one of the organizations.” 

Tip #3: Connect with your fellow PW majors.Not only can they offer assistance, critique your work, and commiserate on pulling all-nighters to meet a deadline, but there have been so many times after graduation that I've called up one of my PW friends and asked them their advice on a project that I'm struggling with or compared experiences working in different roles and industries, and it's nice to know that we're all struggling and flourishing through life together.”

Interviewed November 2018

Shelby Hyde '14, Fashion Copywriter

A double major in Journalism and Fashion Design, in 2015 Shelby joined Moda Operandi, an e-tailer platform. Her team is responsible for all product descriptions on site, but specifically, Shelby serves as a liaison between her company and the designers to ensure they are using proper verbiage when describing specific fabrics and highlighting important unique selling points.

What skills and knowledge did you learn in PW do you find useful in your job?

“One of the most valuable skills that I learned as a PW major is the ability to fully understand the ways in which we communicate through words and how that can shape an entire community’s (or in my case, customer-base) perception of an organization (luxury platform).”

Are there things you wished you learned while at Miami that you didn’t get a chance to?

“My biggest point of concern with my time as a PW major at Miami was the lack of diversity in job fields. I think there are a lot of students with interests outside of the industry’s widely discussed on campus - more creative paths. I challenge the university to reach out to alumni in unconventional fields and speak to students about the different options available to them after graduation.”

What advice would you give to a current PW students to help them get the most out of their time at Miami and their time as a PW major?

“As thankful as I am for the education that Miami gave me, I would say that looking outside of the university for additional resources and opportunities allowed me to really stay focused/driven on a nontraditional career path. Critical thinking is the most important tool in your toolbox - if you don’t see opportunities or resources available right in front of you, then go out and find it! Reach out to alumni in your field of interest and (like I always say) Google is free - use it.”

Interviewed November 2018

Katie Kehres '17, Marketing Communications Specialist

Katie Kehres, who graduated with majors in Professional Writing and Interactive Media Studies, is passionate about all forms of content creation. Now she works as a Marketing Communications Specialist for RetireMEDiQ in Cincinnati, Ohio.

About Katie’s Career

“I’m responsible for creating custom, tailored content for sales collateral, printed materials, email marketing campaigns, newsletters, blogs, websites, campaign landing pages and other digital mediums. I write daily whether it’s for blogs, direct mail pieces, flyers or marketing emails. I also dabble in event planning.”

Leveraging PW in Job Interviews

“[As a PW major] you have had at least one class that teaches real-life skills that are impressive to potential employers, whether it was your capstone project--don't be afraid to talk about it in interviews!--or a class where you helped a local company, your client, with marketing or a writing project.”

Advice for Students

“You will apply to a lot of jobs. Try not to get discouraged by any ‘No’s’ you receive. It will work out for the best and the ‘No's’ you receive will ultimately lead you to a job you like, whether it's the first job you land or one years after graduation. Be patient, but also, don’t sell yourself short.

“The more deeply you're involved with clubs or organizations on campus, the more impressive you will be viewed. Apply for leadership positions in your organization early and often --  it shows that you're a driven self-starter. Be confident in your path and your ability to take on your first job and life after college! You're more prepared than you may think! Best of luck to all of you.”

Interviewed December 2018

Emma Kete '16, Production Copywriter

Emma Kete was busy in her time at Miami. She served as Vice President of Chapter Development at Tri-Delta, a social sorority on campus. She also held several internships including a marketing internship in Australia and a copywriting internship in Ohio. Her love of writing and publications only grew with the time she spent within her PW courses. After graduation, she took a job as a Production Copywriter at Zulily, a popular shopping company.

The importance of internships in the PW world

“The PW major always made me stand out a little bit because it wasn’t just strictly English. It mixed a bit of business into the studies. Internships were another great talking point that always made me stand out. One of the first internships I had was a copywriting internship, and that’s how I discovered this particular career.”

The many options of being a PW major

“I really like how every day is different. I would say a good tip is just to get feelers out. Interview people on how they got the current job that they have and go from there. I like that it can be however creative you want it to be. There are so many options that open up once you go into the professional world.”

Advice to current PW students

“My advice would be to see what programs Miami has for internships that you’re interested in and ask your professors if they have any contacts in your profession of choice. I’d say if writing is your passion then go for it because it’s definitely a viable option to make a career out of it. Always keep writing, whether it’s for fun, a side project, a freelance work project or even a personal blog. You’ll be able to use those as talking points to show that you’re really interested in writing and it’s something you really want to do.”

Approved December 2018

Brian Robben '15, Founder & CEO

Brian majored in Professional Writing  at Miami and was involved in the pre-law program.  From an initial interest in law, his career path changed when his interests and skills led him to entrepreneurship. He now is the CEO of his own marketing company, Robben Media LLC, written three self-published books, and runs his blog TakeYourSuccess.com.

What inspired you to start your own marketing company?

“The reason I started a marketing company is the greatest testament to Miami’s Professional Writing major. In PW classes, I learned how to blog, navigate WordPress, write persuasively, learn digital design and Photoshop, and form a logical argument with my words.”

How did you get started building Robben Media? What was it like in the beginning?

“In the beginning everything is such a grind. You have zero momentum, and by that I mean zero branding, case studies, client results, word of mouth marketing, website traffic, and elements going your way. Every single thing has to be earned, nothing is given, which is fine and as it should be because it’s supposed to be hard. I did have the success of my blog Take Your Success and my large social media following to use for credibility that I can produce results if you give us your business.

“Now we have clients across 12 states in the US and we just signed out first international deal, doing influencer marketing for a Chinese company. It’s shocking that in a year you can go from essentially begging clients to do work at a major discount, to getting paid a premium from a Chinese company to coordinate US and French models in a shoe and bag digital advertising campaign.”

What advice do you have for PW students?

“That mindset is everything. If you think you can, then you absolutely can, and vice versa if you don’t think you can. It may sound cheesy but it’s a life-changing truth. The reason this pans out is if you think you can, then you’ll work incredibly hard, you’ll experience success, and this positive feedback turns into a stronger internal belief, which produces more hard work and better results.”

Interviewed November 2018

Adam Witmer '18, Marketing Coordinator

Adam Witmer graduated in the the Fall of 2018 with a major in Professional Writing. Following a summer internship, Adam was offered a position as a Marketing Coordinator at NCP Finance in Oakwood, Ohio. This will be Adam’s first job outside of college and he is very excited. At his new position, Adam will be working with a small marketing team that represents multiple financial brands under their parent company. Adam will develop brand strategies, and work with other agencies to promote new lines of business.

How did the PW major prepare you for your field? What skills did you acquire that you didn’t expect to be part of the PW major?

“I didn’t expect to graduate with a job in marketing when I became a PW major. I used to consider myself as more of a writer/creator than a marketer, but this major showed me ways to apply those traits in new ways that led to employment.”

How do you leverage your PW major in things like job interviews?

“As PW majors, we have a leg up when it comes to resumes and interviews. The major shows us how to effectively present ourselves as professionals. We are able to effectively communicate across various industries due to the thing we learn in this major. 

What advice would you give to a current PW students to help them get the most out of their time at Miami and their time as a PW major?

“Seek any and all opportunities for experience. Whether you’re a TA for a class you excelled in, or interning for a large corporation - it all counts.”

What advice would you give to current PW majors to help them get launched in and be successful in their careers?

“Stay professional in all contexts and it’ll come naturally. Show people what you can offer them rather than looking for what they can offer you.”

If you could tell an incoming freshman considering declaring a PW major, what is one thing you would tell them?

“If you want to take a wide variety of classes and pick up a diverse skill set, this major is perfect for you. You’ll be able to serve a role in various industries, and you’ll never feel siloed into one field. This major will allow you to get the most out of your college experience.”

Interviewed December 2018

Sales - Management 

Elizabeth Baldwin ’17, Sales Enablement Analyst

Elizabeth double-majored in Professional Writing and Strategic Communication. She works in Chicago, Illinois, for Huron, a global consultancy group that serves clients around the world.  

How did your Professional Writing major prepare you to enter a career in business?

“I definitely did not plan on having a career in the business world. But I did not feel that I was at a disadvantage when applying to jobs without a business degree.  My two majors complemented each other well, and I often felt that interviewers were impressed that one of my degrees was specifically about writing.

“My degree in PW definitely helped me land my current position in the management consulting industry. After taking writing classes that were more technical, I realized that I could use my writing skills in so many different ways.

“So Professional Writing prepared me for my career by strengthening my writing skills in a variety of areas ranging from creative writing to technical writing.”

What is the most helpful thing you learned as a PW major?

"Flexibility! My first position right after college was in the interior design industry, while my current position is in management consulting. These couldn’t be more different, but I have been able to apply skills from my PW major to both.”

Interviewed November 2018

Ali Czarnecki '14, Manager of Executive Operations

A double major in Professional Writing and English Literature, in 2015 Ali joined Managed by Q, a platform for office management that helps companies design, build, staff and manage their workplaces. She is currently the manager of executive operations at the company headquarters in New York City, but has held a variety of different roles since joining Managed by Q.

Why professional writing?

“I felt that the Professional Writing major would give me an edge and allow me more flexibility in career choices down the road. I firmly believe that being a strong communicator is crucial in any industry and within any role. The PW major helped me become a clear, thoughtful, articulate, and effective communicator. The verbal and written skills I learned help me in everything from day-to-day emails and meetings to crafting presentations for company-wide consumption.”

PW in a business career

“I knew that I wanted to work for a more mission-driven company, which is when I found Managed by Q. I was inspired by our mission of empowering others and the thought of using technology to manage space, so I took a leap of faith — three and a half years later I have worked hard to achieve several promotions that have ultimately launched the career in business that I never expected, but am excited about every day.”

Advice for future students

“I would encourage PW students to diversify their coursework. Take courses that will challenge

you—take an intro to business, business writing, critical thinking, or public speaking course,

even if you don’t think you’ll ever find it useful. Chances are these lessons will come in handy

later on in your career.”

Interviewed November 2018

Mary Schrott ’17, Media and Communications Associate

Mary Schrott graduated from Miami with majors in Professional Writing and Journalism, and she always knew she wanted her career to make a difference. Now she works as a Media and Communications Associate at the U.S. Green Building Council in Washington, D.C., helping to share the USGBC’s dedication to sustainable building and a greener planet.

What do you do in your position?

“As the Media and Communications Associate for the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) I assist the PR/Communications team in positively portraying our company and products, such as Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification, in the media. This includes general content creation, media relations, customer service, media monitoring, partnership work and various internal communications.

“I enjoy working for a nonprofit that is mission driven—this was an extremely important aspect I considered during my job search. I knew I wanted to leave work every day knowing my efforts are ultimately helping progress a cause much larger than myself like mitigating climate change through green building. Now I get to use the skills I learned through my professional writing and journalism majors to share this message and make change more accessible through effective communications.”

How has your career evolved since graduation? What was the job search process like for you?

“Graduation truly doesn’t seem that far gone. I didn’t graduate with this position, however, during my short time unemployed I learned how important it is to be intentional in job applications, follow up with employers, show you care about the position and look for networking opportunities. I am lucky to have secured this job just a few weeks after graduation, but this was not without a lot of patience and putting in many hours driving the PA Turnpike to and from DC to Pittsburgh.”

How did you leverage your PW major in the job search process? 

“Professional writing is a great major to have because it can be easily manipulated into various fields of communication. Being that my job is in the PR field, during interviews I was able to speak of my experience working with clients, writing copy and creating content for various mediums—all of which came from studying professional writing. I also believe being able to write at a professional level is a skill any and every employer looks for and written job applications are a great opportunity to showcase these skills.”

What kind of learning experiences (course-related or other) helped shape you in terms of finding your career path? 

“I would not be here today without the Inside Washington program. This program taught me the skills I needed to network and navigate DC and foreshadowed a potential career in a fast-paced city with immense potential to create positive change for our country and beyond.”

What advice would you give to a current PW students to help them get the most out of their time at Miami and their time as a PW major?

“Take diverse classes! PW has so many mediums of communications to study. Try them out and see which one’s interest you. Also, I highly recommend taking classes with coding work! Even the slightest knowledge of HTML/CSS is amazing to have in your repertoire.”

What advice would you give to current PW majors to help them launch successful careers?

“I would give the advice that there’s a job out there for you! Communications is such a vast field that it can be overwhelming at first to think about your future as a PW student. Communication is the most essential skill for any career and is highly valued. Consider what you want to take away from your career and what change you want to make in the world and let that guide where you put your energy.”

Interviewed October 2018 

Natalie Wink ’17, Media Associate

Natalie graduated Miami University in 2017 with a Bachelor of Arts in Professional Writing and a Bachelor of Arts in Interactive Media Studies. She is currently a Media Associate at Starcom Worldwide in Chicago, Illinois.

What do you do as a Media Associate?

“I personally am on a digital investment team for Kraft-Heinz. I make sure that with any digital advertisement, including social media such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest, that we are being efficient with the client’s money and being sure that we are maximizing their return on advertising spend in the digital space.” 

How did the PW major prepare you for your field?

“Businesses want to hire well-rounded individuals, with a brain. With PW there isn’t one set career path. If you’re going to be going into business, businesses don’t always want to hire specifically business majors. You will never have a job where you don’t need to communicate and having a writing major on your resume helps you so much and that is within teams internally but also externally. So many people can be so smart yet they cannot communicate, but you can’t escape writing in life.”

What advice would you offer incoming first-year students? 

“When I was a freshman, my fear was that it wouldn’t translate well into the professional world, I didn’t know what else it would be worth. So, lean into your professors and advisors really heavily, they will always have extra projects and individual work for you. You will get out of it what you put into it and you won’t be in a box. You can do so much and go off into your own path.”

Technical Writing 

Emily Waldrop '16, Information Designer

Emily WaldropEmily Waldrop graduated Cum Laude with two Bachelor’s degrees in Professional Writing and Interactive Media Studies.

Emily works for IBM Corporation as an Information Designer. She collaborates with software designers to develop rhetorically effective product instructions for businesses who use IBM software. As she explained, “I love being the connection between consumers and developers because it allows me to work with many different people who all possess extremely unique passions and skillsets.”

As an undergraduate, Emily worked as a consultant and researcher for the Howe Center for Writing Excellence, which ultimately led to the realization that she wanted to pursue writing. She changed her major several times and ultimately knew writing was the best path for her because she could combine it with her other passion – technology.

Emily says she often draws on skills she learned in ENG/IMS 416 Writing for Global Audiences because it “taught the importance of being aware and sensitive to the way people from other cultures both perceive and convey information.”

Her best advice to students pursuing internships or careers within the Professional Writing program is to take advantage of every opportunity that Miami as to offer, including pursuing a second major or minor in another area of interest that compliments your Professional Writing degree and that helps expand your career possibilities.  

Interviewed September 2016