Interview with Zoe Eisenberg ’10
by Dr. Chidsey Dickson
What did you enter college expecting to study?
I went to college to study health promotion. I picked English up as a minor for fun, thinking I would get to read a few good books along the way. However, I ended up falling in love with the Creative Writing program and swapped my major and minor. At some point, probably around the end of sophomore year, it occurred to me I would have to actually make a career with what I was learning. Before then, it seemed more abstract, and less of a reality. That’s when I realized journalism would be a good way to cross my love for writing and health, so I started working with the newspaper. My work with the Current and the Critograph definitely helped me get a job after school, as well as my work with the James Dickey lit mag.
Tell us what you do now.
I am the editor at a small business magazine, and I also write for several online publications on the side. I had my first non-fiction book published in 2014 (The Lusty Vegan: A Cookbook and Relationship Manifesto for Vegans and Those Who Love Them), and in my free time I write fiction, as well as screenplays for the production company I co-founded in 2013. [See http://zoeeisenberg.com/ for more.]
How did your time in English at LC prepare you for what you do?
Studying writing at LC helped me to exercise my creative muscle, which, in all honestly, I hadn’t used much until that point. The format of the curriculum also helped me grow accustomed to writing for deadlines and working on multiple projects at once, both of which have helped me in my professional career.
What do you have to say to students at LC in English, or who are thinking about English as a major?
LC’s creative writing curriculum is one of the most fun majors offered. Not only do you get to explore your own non-fiction, fiction and poetry, but you learn how to hand out and receive constructive criticism – a writer’s ultimate frenemy.
Katie Davidson ’09 is the production manager for Disney Publishing Worldwide, and creates children’s books from the ideas of editors. During her time at LC, Katie wrote for the Critograph and was a tutor at the Wilmer Writing Center.
During an interview, Katie suggested to current LC students: “If you want to break into the professional world, no matter what the industry, take an internship. Not only does it give you experience and material for your resume, but working for intern-level pay reflects a certain passion for your industry.”
Clyde Harkrader ’09, English major, currently works as a technical writer for Thomas Advisors, a small business in Lynchburg that provides proposal consulting.
Clyde’s latest project was an “RFP” (request for proposal) to manage and operate a Department of Energy facility. Clyde wrote a 15 page past performance section that illustrated the client’s relevant experience; this included drafting storyboard and incorporating input from management reviews. He also helped his supervisor rewrite other sections of the document, edited some others and helped put together the physical document (1000s of pages; including 100s of newly created material).
Jennifer Bolt Ervin ‘06 worked as a technical writer and training specialist at Genworth Financial for 6 years. As an English major at LC, she writes, she was able to “cultivate key competencies and skills that quickly propelled my professional career into corporate training leadership and now into owning my own consulting company [People First Consulting, LLC].” Ervin says her studies in English prepared her for work; specifically, she learned to “synthesize information, understand relationships between seemingly unrelated or paradoxical ideas, develop a thought-out perspective and opinion, and examine things from various points of view.” Ervin believes that “much of the workforce today is greatly lacking in these types of skills, and with them, you can do anything you want to do.”
Chris Rand ’07: About his work at TechTarget, a technology marketing firm in Boston, and before that, Harvard Education Press, Chris writes: “Technical Editors are required to posses an impeccable understanding of English grammar and usage–the accuracy of highly essential technical information depends on it! Each company or agency will have its own style, much like those found in common style books like Chicago or the Associated Press. Learning this ‘in house’ style is the first step. Any array of high priority customers rely on technical editors to deliver flawless information that represents the integrity of the company publishing it. in this way, a misplaced hyphen can jeopardize customers’ trust in the brand, so you have to be careful! Technical editors often work on a small team consisting of Designers (who created the layout of the collateral containing the text the tech editors work on) and other editors, each of which will see each job multiple times to ensure the integrity of the work before it is published. Tech editors are usually the representative of the team in dealing with the client, and so there is a great deal of project management responsibility that goes with each job.
A tech editor might work on 30 jobs simultaneously, and the client expects you to know the stages for each of those jobs. It’s a rewarding job when you see each piece get published, knowing that your skill and trained eye have been put to good use and you’ve done justice to the critical message and your company as a brand. The skills required for technical copywriting are similar to those of technical editing, except you are required to consistently deliver some ‘flare’ to the somewhat flat message that engineers are trying to deliver about their product. taking esoteric engineer jargon and converting it into digestible marketing copy is a challenge, but the power of your knowledge of style and usage can do wonders for creating a connection between the originator and the customer (even if you don’t fully understand what it is you’re writing about!).
Copywriters are typically expected to deliver a large volume of copy in a limited amount of time, so the ability to create compelling copy without attempting to write a poetic masterpiece is highly desirable. Companies require compelling copy for all types of publications, including marketing emails that might reach hundreds of thousands of people, to corporate websites that serve as a portal for all of the company’s customers; you also might be ask to write the invitations for the company’s upcoming team building event, so be open to whatever may be required.”
Diana Clark ’13 was accepted into the MFA Program, Sarah Lawrence College
Becky Eades ’08 is finishing her MFA at UNC Wilmington
Chad Luibl ’05 finished his MFA at Virginia Commonwealth University and started a job as assistant at the prestigious Janklow & Nesbitt Literary Agency in NYC.
Casey Greene ’05 finished her MFA at Bennington, and worked with poet Nikki Giovanni on the Appalachian Writers Project.
Laura Bianca-Pruett ’09 is an Editorial Assistant at the publisher Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins in Baltimore