Alumnae who are professional writers put their study of English to work
During the Writers on Writing “Writers at Work” session held in fall 2020, four MMU grads shared their career paths, discussed their first job, how and why they moved to new jobs and the writing skills that come in handy every single day.
- Loni Luna ’08, Demand Generation Manager, MSI Data
- Shannon Molter ‘15, UX Designer, Walmart Global Tech
- Megan Nordvall ‘15, Senior IRB Analyst at the University of Chicago
- Julie Weber ’09, ‘19, Commercial Program Manager, Rockwell Automation
Loni graduated with a degree in professional writing and a minor in journalism. During her time at Mount Mary she did an internship with the Zoological Society of Milwaukee and was hired as a copy writer, her first entry into a career in writing.
Loni worked at the Daily Reporter in data entry, then became involved in technical writing projects for non-profit organizations. She was hired at MSI Data and quickly needed to bring herself up to speed in a software licensing and delivery model known as “Software as a Service,” or Saas. She credits her ability to gather information and learn from others in helping her build proficiency. Today she writes, researches and distributes information.
Content can be anything from webinars to blogs, ebooks, sales presentation, onboarding materials or newsletters.
“You have to be a producer,” she said.
Was drawn to Mount Mary originally for our focus on fashion, she quickly learned her skills and creativity aligned with writing. She wanted to be a fashion journalist or work in the industry in public relations.
During her junior year she joined The Commons, a unique collaborative that connects college students and local businesses to inspire innovation. Shannon became part of a team that creating a project for Kohl’s. Despite the intense commitment (a full weekend onboarding event and ongoing sessions) she struggled through it and considers it a foundational experience.
During the pitch event, in which the group proposed their idea to Kohl’s, she was approached and asked if she’d like to become an intern.
This was in a technology department and to Shannon’s surprise, she discovered a love for technology. She encourages students to “lean into the right side of their brain” and add additional skills. She credits a graphic design class for giving her a headstart with technical presentation skills.
Thanks to her good work she was hired at Kohl’s directly after graduation and stayed for three years. She moved on to Walmart and relocated to Arkansas when former Kohl’s leaders she greatly respected started working there.
“I had to trust that I found the right person to follow,” she said.
She soon found herself managing the website, leading and training the UX team. Her job is fast-paced and so is she.
Megan has always had an interest in human behavior; before enrolling in college, Megan worked as a counselor for Rogers Behavioral Health. She earned her degree from Mount Mary in psychology/behavioral science, with a minor in professional writing.
She credits her work on Arches and her work-study job in the Mount Mary marketing department as introducing her to the professional side of writing.
She is now a graduate student studying Public Policy at the University of Chicago and working at the institution, making sure that any research projects that use human subjects are constructed and done in compliance with ethical standards. She works closely with the legal team to make sure the language is accurate and precise, and she and draws heavily upon her critical thinking and analysis that she learned at Mount Mary.
Although she was working as an interior designer, Julie Weber felt drawn to study English. Two months after she earned her English degree, she lost her job as a designer in the recession of 2008-2009.
She was at a crossroads.
She wanted to find a job that would suit her interests as a writer and her ability as a designer. She worked for a number of years as an environmental marketing specialist for SpaceSaver, creating educational courses and posting content on the company’s website and blog. After multiple roles within the company, she eventually moved to Rockwell Automation as a commercial program manager, making strategic decisions on product launches.
Julie said her journey has been unconventional, but ultimately rewarding. “I didn’t know how I would combine my passions and make a career, but I did.”
What are the most useful skills you gained from studying English?
Shannon: “There is a lot of writing in everything I do, from storytelling in presentations to day to day email. It is really eye opening how much English and writing skills are lacking out there. Having that foundational writing ability is great.”
Loni: “I use my skills in research, copywriting, persuasive writing, proofreading and interviewing subject matter experts.”
Megan: “Critical thinking and analysis, having the ability to take something that you don’t understand and then turning it into something that others can understand.”
Julie: “Having experience with peer review and editing has made me comfortable reviewing the work of others.”
Advice to Students
- Be a sponge. “Be a go-getter, take on new challenges and keep learning.
- Get noticed: At her first job, she became the go-to person for making PowerPoint presentations. “Become known for something in a skill you might have never expected.”
- Advocate for yourself: Shannon asked for training and is now certified in UX “You never know what opportunities will come your way.”
- Always give your best, no matter what. “Be the best you can be, even if you’re ‘just’ the proofreader.”
- Don’t leave just for higher pay. “Make sure that it matters to you.”
- Reach out for your dreams. If you have a dream job in mind, call up that person and ask them about it. Learn everything you can along the way.
- It’s not about the degree. It’s about what you gain along the way.
- Don’t let the job title intimidate you. No one possesses all of the skills on the job description. Go for it, even if you just have a few of the skills. “The rest of the skills can be acquired on the job.”
- Follow your passion. “I didn’t know how I’d combine my interests or make them into a career, but I have!”
- Don’t stress along the way: Go for it and the pieces will fall into place, even if it takes a few tries.