Clubs and Activities at CSB/SJU:
Rock Climbing Club, Sustainability Alliance.
Communications Specialist at Hennepin Theatre Trust.
What was your favorite English class? Why?
My favorite English class was a film studies course I took with Luke Mancuso. I already loved film, but that class taught me how it works. As a matter of fact, I liked it so much I signed up two semesters in a row—pissing off my advisor in the process.
What Professor left a lasting impact on you?
I owe a debt of gratitude to several professors, including Luke Mancuso and Matt Callahan, but especially Jessica Harkins for setting me on the path toward a writing career. She encouraged me to enroll in a few independent studies, through which I got to explore different forms and styles of writing that interested me while benefiting from one-on-one mentorship. She also encouraged me to apply to grad school and coached me through the application process.
Did you do an Internship while at CSB/SJU? How did it help you?
While I was attending SJU, I completed two simultaneous internships with art museums in the Twin Cities. Both gave me invaluable experience working in a museum setting, which I later used as inspiration to write a workplace sitcom set in a modern art museum. My advice while searching for internships is to do your best to determine how likely that organization is to hire you after the internship ends. If they churn through interns without bringing any of them onboard permanently, don’t waste your time.
Did you do any Study Abroad programs or clubs when you were at CSB/SJU?
I participated in the India study abroad program and was a resident of the Edelbrock eco-house (RIP). I could not recommend the India program highly enough — it’s a wild experience I still think about every day. The eco-house left me with a tight-knit group of lifelong friends.
What class was most beneficial to your future career?
Again, I’ll have to call out Luke Mancuso’s film studies course. It’s truly ‘film heaven.’ Learning how to deconstruct a film and figure out how it ticks is a skill I need to write good screenplays — what I hope will be my future career.
How did your English education at CSB/SJU help you land your first or future jobs?
The path to my dream job is a convoluted one — the CSB/SJU English department got me into my MFA program, which refined my fiction writing skills, which got me into the Tin House Summer Workshop where I met a writer who convinced me to try my hand at screenwriting and is helping refine my skills. I hope to find work as a staff writer for a television show and will credit CSB/SJU for a portion of that path.
Why did you choose the profession that you chose?
I chose nonprofit communications because it’s an easy way to make money while I figure out how to make money doing things I actually like. It’s also a sector where the work is less likely to conflict with my personal values — I never dreamt of going corporate.
What is one piece of advice that you have for current students?
When you get a job, never EVER work one single minute you aren’t getting paid for. All employers, nonprofit or otherwise, see their workers as resources. You don’t owe them anything, so don’t stay in a bad job, don’t work weekends, and diligently enforce a healthy work-life balance.
After graduating from Saint John’s in 2014, I enrolled in the Queens University of Charlotte Low Residency MFA: Latin America program. Since earning my MFA in 2016, I have published fiction and poetry in more than 20 journals, including Third Coast, West Branch, SAND Berlin, New American Writing, and the Hopkins Review. I have received scholarships to residencies at the Hambidge Center, the New Orleans Writers Residency, and the Tin House Summer workshop. I am currently working on several television pilots and seeking representation for my television writing. I owe an enormous debt of gratitude to the Saint John’s English Department faculty (Jessica Harkins, Luke Mancuso, and Matt Callahan to name a few) for identifying talent I couldn’t always see myself and for encouraging me to take risks in pursuit of a writing career. You can read my work at lukemuyskens.com.
Have an update?
If you are an English grad, we would love to hear what you have been up to after college.
English Grad Update