Year of Graduation: 1992
Current Job: Business Systems Analyst, Perot Systems, Phoeniz, AZ
At the time this article was written, Becky was working as a Senior Technical Writer. In the past, she has worked in corporate communications, as well as working as a freelance editor and writer for a variety of businesses, newspapers, and magazines. She has also been a reporter for various weekly newspapers.
How did you decide to work in this field?
I have wanted to work as a writer since I was a child. When I got to CSB, there was not a communication major yet. so I started in English. I also wrote the Saint Ben's and St. John's student newspaper and took a semester off to work for a small newspaper in Oklahoma. Though I ended up with a Philosophy degree, I never stopped writing, either paid or volunteer, and it began to pay off after a while. I can't imagine doing anything else.
What is a typical day like for you?
I work in an office two days a week and from home the rest of the week. Depending on deadlines, I spend about the same amount of time researching, writing, and editing. I try not to spend hours staring at my computer screen and still insist on printing off the material I edit. There are also meetings/teleconferences, of course, and when I am home my three-year-old daughter becomes my "co-worker". She "helps" me with her own paper and pencils and likes to hand me books. She can be a challenge when I am pressed for time, but I wouldn't trade the time at home for anything. Since I am developing my own freelance business (iotaunum.com) as well as working for JigsawDirect.com full time, I have to spend some time each week marketing/networking the keep business coming in. This involves lots of email, phone calls and checking certain boards and sites for possible freelance work.
What do you like/dislike about your career?
I like the diversity of topics I get to learn and write about. I also usually get to be creative and work with people who are non-writers. Being part of a creative team is great. I can't think of anything I dislike! With technology today you can do it from anywhere, anytime. I think it is the best!
Are there any specific skills you gained at CSB/SJU that are particularly helpful in your current job?
There is no questioned that I honed my writing skills at CSB even though I didn't major in Communication or English. The more subtle skills have also really served me well, like the critical-thinking and problem-solving skills that I think a liberal arts education nurtures. Most importantly, I developed confidence in my own abilities while at CSB. I believe this confidence is particularly important for women in business. If you don't think you can do the job well, no one else is going to either.
What advice would you give to a student who is interested in a career in writing/editing?
Never stop writing, whether you are being paid for it or graded on it or not. Volunteer to write. If you don't have a paying gig (and even if you do), volunteer for an organization to write for their newsletter or draft press releases or edit their manuals...whatever. Your portfolio is much more important than your resume. Fill it up with good work.
Understand that as a writer it is part of your job to be edited. I am amazed at how many young writers don't understand this aspect of the writing process. You will be required to write in many different styles if you work in the business or non-profit worlds, and good editing will help you understand how you need to write for that particular job. Good editing can only make you a better writer.