Second Batch of Alumni Updates and Advice

Marci (Kacsir) Babula

I’m currently an Editorial Project Manager at Hammock, Inc. in Nashville. We are a custom publishing company that produces several newsletters, magazines, etc. It’s custom content marketing, rather than advertising, so we actually write and produce quality content instead of just advertisements (which is what I used to do).

My role is equal parts writing/editing, project management, and customer service. I’m in charge of a monthly newsletter that gets produced in a national version and then is customized by 56 participating hospitals. So there are 57 different versions of the newsletter to edit and keep track of. The writing and editing I was well prepared for from my education, both because of the English/poetry degrees and the journalism major.

Project management, on the other hand, is sort of a by-product I picked up from my experience teaching in grad school. It helped me prepare for organizing, planning, tracking, and reporting on several project types. I do that now, just with a different end goal. You could also say that learning how to write a term paper helped me with this, too – so much of project management is having a plan to begin with. I think learning how to write a strong thesis statement helps people learn how to plan properly and outline a road map.

The last component of my job is one I can’t really say I learned from my English courses themselves, but I learned customer service skills from a lot of places. Teaching, selling shoes and working retail, networking when I was unemployed, and probably because I’m a naturally talkative person. However, I will say that a large part of customer service is listening well and paying attention. I’ve always been nosy – I think a lot of writers are – but English and journalism courses taught me how to pay closer and better attention to details.

P.S. Also! The ability to take quality, well-organized notes is NOT to be sneezed at. This is a skill I honed in my English courses and carried over to the rest of my life. I am now a compulsive note-taker. I don’t know how many times I ended up being in charge of a particular project or initiative simply because I was the one taking notes. I didn’t ask for the role, but I was the one who paid the most attention, so I was often asked to delegate and follow-up on things. It seems small, but apparently most people never make the effort to learn how to do it right. Oddly enough, just the ability to take notes said to other people that I was serious, responsible, and worthy of being a leader. Who knew?

Sam Ford

I graduated from the English Department with an emphasis in writing in May 2005. From there, I went straight into a Master’s program in Comparative Media Studies at MIT. While there, I helped launch a research group called the Convergence Culture Consortium, which saw grad students and academics studying the media and pop culture sharing work and collaborating with major media companies and brands from Viacom and Turner Broadcasting to Fidelity Investments and Petrobras. After graduating from MIT, I stayed on to manage the Consortium project.

 In 2008, I went to work for Peppercom Strategic Communications, where I am their Director of Digital Strategy. I also co-edited the book Survival of Soap Opera, which came out in 2011, and am co-author of Spreadable Media, which is coming out in Fall 2012.

 Today, I work from home here in Bowling Green; teach on occasion with the Popular Culture Studies Program; write regularly for Fast Company; and continue both academic writing and consulting with companies about how they use digital communication to reach their audiences. My time with the English Department provided the key foundation for where my career has headed, and I am happy and proud to continue to stay connected to WKU and the English Department today.