Position, Organization: Editorial Coordinator, Zondervan Books
Major/Graduation: BA in English, 2018
Describe your experience in the department. What did you study?
I studied both Creative Writing in the English Department and Professional Writing. I especially loved taking creative nonfiction classes as I learned to speak my truth in a way I never had before. My writing professors were truly mentors who helped me find my own voice.
What are you doing now? Please describe your current position.
I work as the editorial coordinator for Zondervan Books, which is a nonfiction imprint of HarperCollins Christian Publishing. I coordinate our freelance projects, assist in the management of the publishing process, and monitor how our books look on the websites of online retailers. I love being able to read (and proofread) all day, and it’s so exciting to see the process of our books moving from initial concept to printed pages. On the side, I keep up my writing at caitwest.com.
What kinds of experiences, skills, classes training did you receive at MSU that helped you succeed in the job market, and beyond?
My creative writing classes helped me understand the power of language, and workshopping helped hone my ability to critique and build up the writing of others. My classes in proofreading and publishing definitely provided the practical skills I needed to have a sharp eye in my work. The internships and opportunities to be on editorial teams at MSU gave me the hands-on experience I needed to gain confidence and build up my resume. I had an internship with Fourth Genre, a creative nonfiction journal there at the time, and I will always treasure the afternoons I spent in our little office reading submissions and having long conversations with the editorial team about craft and story. My professors and advisors were supportive in helping me reach my creative and career goals. Even after I graduated, my career advisor from MSU was extremely helpful in my job search, helping me revise my resume, prep for interviews, and connect with alumni.
What is most memorable about your time in the English Department?
Some of my most memorable moments happened when I was working on my thesis. For the first time in my life, I had dedicated time to spend writing the beginning to my memoir. I remember feeling the dreaded writer’s block some days, writing for hours on other days, one time literally cutting up my essay into pieces so I could physically rearrange the order. And the one-on-one workshopping sessions with my advisor were invaluable. Robin Silbergleid and Laura Julier were amazing mentors who gave me the space and support I needed to write my story.