Alumni Spotlights

Jacqueline Bull 2016

Current job title 
Assistant Editor for the San Diego Jewish Journal

 

Describe your current position 
I write articles for the San Diego Jewish Journal, edit articles, take a little bit of photography, and manage the CMS.

 

To what extent does writing relate to your current position? / What type of writing/design do you do for work? 
I write articles about different organizations and people in the San Diego community and what is important to them and what effect they are trying to make on the world.

 

Please briefly describe your path from graduation at GVSU to your current position. 
I did a few different jobs and internships during my time at GVSU. In the summer semester after I graduated, I had an internship with Current Magazine in Ann Arbor. After my internship was completed, I stayed on as a staff writer for over a year. Then, I moved to San Diego and began working at the position I'm in now.

 

What parts of the writing major had the strongest impact on you as a professional? 
I think the writing major at GVSU provided a great foundation for how to think about writing and understand how to be critical and discerning about the ways to write in different contexts. We also learned about the legacy of the discipline and learning who came before you and figuring out where you see yourself in the community, which wouldn't necessarily be something you learn on the job.

 

What advice would you offer to current/future writing majors at Grand Valley? 
My advice would be not to expect that going to class and doing the work is enough to prepare you for life after college. If you want to grow as a writer, you need to be engaging socially with your peers and talking and sharing your work outside of class. I really enjoyed and valued the classes, but some of the most important learning was through my time working at the writing center, getting involved with fishladder, talking with my professors at office hours, and making meaningful friendships with other writers.

Everyone will tell you "Get involved!" and that is true, but I think the real message is take advantage of the environment you are. Benefit from the people that are around you and grow and challenge each other. Who makes you laugh in class? Whose writing do you connect with? They want to be your friends, too. I think sometimes the "Get Involved!" message reads as more about padding your résumés, and that is important, but it is really about the value of having other writers as friends.

Jacqueline Bull's Headshot


Kenny Porter 2015

Current job title 
Marketing Coordinator/Content Developer for Tonic as a part of Gilson Graphics and a freelance comic book writer

 

Describe your current position 

Marketing Coordinator/Content Developer – Gilson Graphics

My role as a Marketing Coordinator and Content Developer is to generate copy, concepts, and creative solutions for clients. I work with a dedicated marketing team inside Gilson called Tonic that services clients both locally and nationally for creative services. This includes developing promotional campaigns, designing packaging, writing content, and managing social media. A typical week in my position includes generating web content for clients, proofreading copy for advertisements or packaging, managing social media accounts, and generating sales samples. Most of my work revolves around different types of writing or generating ideas.

 

Freelance Writer – Comics/Fiction/Content Development

Writing comics freelance is a bit more of a unique position. It’s a healthy balance between working on licensed work for companies like SEGA and doing creator-owned projects like Barnstormers. I typically work with editors to flesh out story ideas and then pitch ongoing series, miniseries, or original graphic novels. In the case of assigned work, I have to outline the story, get the story approved, and then write with editorial notes from the company. Creating comics is a team effort. I work with artists, colorists, letterers, and editors all across the world on multiple titles at a time. Most of this includes creating my own work for pitching, which means I’m essentially a writer and a project manager/producer on my own titles.

 

To what extent does writing relate to your current position? / What type of writing/design do you do for work? 
Writing is a major part of my job description at Gilson Graphics. My job is to create concepts, copy, and content for 3D print projects, proposals, website content, and official documents. My freelance work is all writing and ranges from writing comic book adaptations for SEGA to creating promotional branding copy, blog posts, and social media strategies.

 

Please briefly describe your path from graduation at GVSU to your current position. 
After my graduation from GVSU, I started work as a copywriter with Create and Craft and began booking jobs as a freelance comic book writer. I then took a position with Tonic inside Gilson Graphics that started as a freelance project, but soon blossomed into a full-time position.

My freelance work took off when I was found by a creative agency in California that tapped me to write comic book adaptations for SEGA's Yakuza franchise. Since then I've also been self-publishing comics and graphic novels with my most recent being Barnstormers! through Kickstarter. That project landed me my agent, who represents me in all matters that have to do with my original graphic novels or fiction works. I've also started editing other comic book series as a freelance comic editor and content developer.

 

What parts of the writing major had the strongest impact on you as a professional? 
The ability to choose my own modules and craft my own degree was key. My unique blend of fiction, manuscript development, and writing for the web prepared me for the type of career I wanted to have. For me, it was always about doing half professional writing and half creative writing. The skill sets you learn in each area easily bleed into each other and can help you develop as a writer.

 

What advice would you offer to current/future writing majors at Grand Valley? 
Finish your projects. All of them. Don't leave short stories you've done for classes at the bottom of your stack or leave them to collect digital dust on your hard drive. Always make contacts outside of academia in your industry and don't rely on one source of writing for your income or pleasure. I love writing and producing comics and fiction, but I also love having steady work on the professional side.

Kenny Porter Headshot


Josh Buck 2016

Current job title 
Marketing Generalist

 

Describe your current position 
I work in the marketing department for four fiberglass boat brands (Four Winns, Glastron, Scarab Jet, and Wellcraft) with models ranging from 16-37ft. I handle copywriting, press releases, digital/print advertising, content management and web design, all aspects of social media, varying boat testing/driving, and also act as a salesperson at boat shows.

 

To what extent does writing relate to your current position? / What type of writing/design do you do for work? 
Writing fully relates to my everyday work life as I copywrite for the web, social media, and print media (catalogs, brochures, press releases etc.). I design and develop advertisements, photography, banners, sell sheets, annual information guides, and consult on new strategies for reaching our dealers/consumers. I use the techniques I developed from GVSU's writing program on a consistent, daily basis.

 

Please briefly describe your path from graduation at GVSU to your current position. 
My path at GVSU truly led me where I am today. I always knew I wanted to be a marketer, but the writing department allowed me to immerse myself in that passion. And yes, I followed my passion for marketing through GVSU's writing program! The knowledge I obtained in writing and design helped me figure out my strengths and weaknesses. I sincerely wouldn't be where I am today if it weren't for all the time I spent developing my writing skills, design methodology, and public speaking abilities.

 

What parts of the writing major had the strongest impact on you as a professional? 
The modules I completed had a powerful impact on my professional standing. Writing for the web, writing with technologies, and magazine writing truly boosted my skills as a writer and designer. My minor in advertising and public relations also played a large role in my abilities to see how the smallest details can make or break a design. Finally, my writing internship was a promising step towards getting me ready for the professional world.

 

What advice would you offer to current/future writing majors at Grand Valley? 
Don't be afraid to try new avenues of writing. There are endless opportunities for a writer, and most of the time we get to change the rules on what works. The writing major at GVSU lets you find what best suits you. Finding out what type of writer you are is easy through the program. And it may sound small, but keep asking questions! Finding your path is not a journey that should be traveled alone. 

Headshot of Josh Buck


Kiera (Wilson) Prince-Stevens 2011

Current job title 
Instructional Designer at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan

 

Describe your current position 
My job is to create training material for sales reps at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. I design course objectives, content flow, and learning interactions. I also develop training materials for classroom, webinar, and eLearning formats, which means that I write all the scripting (that facilitator's use) for classroom training and design slide decks, job aids, and participant guides. I create eLearning using Adobe Captivate and Camtasia Studio. Usually I work extensively with subject matter experts (SMEs) to compile content and to ensure training materials meets the needs of the business and target audience.

 

To what extent does writing relate to your current position? / What type of writing/design do you do for work? 
At least half of my work is writing. As mentioned above, I write detailed scripts for facilitators/trainers. I write design maps (essentially outlines of course content), and I write scripts and storyboards for any videos or eLearning voice over content. In some cases, I write the course content from scratch if no SMEs are available.

 

Please briefly describe your path from graduation at GVSU to your current position. 
After graduating, I went to Clemson University and got a master's in professional communication through the MAPC program. I was intent on becoming a professor. It was there I did research on game-based learning and discovered the world of instructional design through MAPC alumni. Instead of getting my PhD, I decided to take a detour from pursuing an academic career. Instructional design allowed me to stay in the field of instruction and teaching, just in a different way. About a year after I graduated from Clemson, I got a position as a learning and development specialist at Hewlett Packard training call center agents. I was there for a year after deciding I wanted a position that focused more on course development. Taking my current job at BCBSM has allowed me to hone my writing and graphic design skills.

 

What parts of the writing major had the strongest impact on you as a professional? 
The professional writing courses, in particular document design. I took the introductory and advanced courses. Learning to use Adobe products gave me a leg up in the job market. Adobe is still the gold standard, so learning those programs can be essential to getting a position. Document design also provided me foundational skills that I still use to this day in how I create documents for work.

Consulting with writers was an awesome course. It broadened my understanding of feedback and how essential it is to what writers do. A huge part of my job is giving and receiving feedback. Your writing in the workplace is always going to be looked at by someone else, so being able to take constructive criticism is important. 

Multimodal composing was a great course that introduced me to how writing can be combined with so many other mediums. That relates to a majority of what I do—deciding what works best as text, image, audio, or video so that it is most engaging for my target audience. I focused a lot on multimodal composition in grad school and bring it into my work daily. I'm always advocating for multimedia based eLearning in our department or modernizing our old read only content.

 

What advice would you offer to current/future writing majors at Grand Valley? 
Be open to the scope of what you can do with your writing major. Just because you major in writing doesn't mean you have to go out and become an editor or author. It may feel like you're limited or that writing isn't lucrative, but it is a greatly underestimated skill in the workplace. Communication is so important to how a company functions. If people do it poorly, the business suffers. I've seen entire projects fall apart due to poor communication. Writing/communication is a soft skill, but that doesn't make it easy.

Headshot of Kiera Prince-Stevens


Jorri (Heil) Smith 2008

Current job title 
Provider Communications Manager

 

Describe your current position 
As a Provider Communications Manager, I am responsible for educating and communicating to Priority Health's physicians, hospitals, and ancillary providers about the organization's programs and policies to ensure we're providing excellent and affordable health care.
 

To what extent does writing relate to your current position? / What type of writing/design do you do for work? 
Writing is crucial in my team's day-to-day work. We take complex information and communicate it in writing in order to drive change. The communication always starts with written pieces that can then be translated into other channels, such as in-person discussions, presentations, etc.

 

Please briefly describe your path from graduation at GVSU to your current position. 
I double majored in writing and PR. I started in automotive manufacturing as a communications specialist. Then I worked in construction as a marketing specialist with some business development functions. Since joining Priority Health, I have moved from the marketing department in member communications to project management roles and now to a department-specific communications role.

 

What parts of the writing major had the strongest impact on you as a professional? 
Refining my writing skills has given me an edge in all aspects of my career and sets me apart from the competition. In business, strong writing skills are often an unaddressed need. Early in my career, the HTML/CSS coding I learned in a writing for the web class also gave me an edge in early roles where I there was a need for someone with technical skills to manage web content.

 

What advice would you offer to current/future writing majors at Grand Valley? 
Writing is a skill that will always help you set yourself apart and give you a competitive edge against the competition. Stay curious and be willing to take on roles where you can learn the business-side of the organization you work for. Pairing business acumen with strong writing skills will help you position yourself for a rewarding career. Also, you can never take too many internships. Get as many experiences as you can writing for various communication tactics: business plans, grants, press releases, presentations, etc.

Headshot of Jorrie Smith


Kelly Brown 2014

Current job title
Marketing Projects Manager and Freelance Writer

 

Describe your current position
My full-time position is as a Marketing Projects Manager for Green Giftz (a GVSU Alumni-Owned Business. Go Lakers!). At my full-time position, I am responsible for drafting branded merchandise presentations and ideas to pitch to clients like Steelcase, Herman Miller, Haworth, Byrne, etc., quoting, entering orders, and tracking orders to completion. I interact face-to-face with my clients on a weekly basis. We create mock-ups for their items, and I work with local suppliers to create custom projects like messenger bags created from scrap tradeshow banners or beautiful hand bags/pouches constructed from Herman Miller's scrap fabric.

I'm also a freelance writer for Revue Magazine and Women's Lifestyle. At Revue, I produce monthly articles about events within Grand Rapids/West Michigan as well as profile pieces on various people around WM. At Women's Lifestyle, I am the monthly fitness columnist.

 

To what extent does writing relate to your current position? / What type of writing/design do you do for work?
My position at Green Giftz involves a lot of client interaction, which means I'm writing emails, quotes, and sales orders all day long. It is so, so important to have good communication with my client because I'm often working on a tight deadline. I'm also responsible for our press releases and all marketing materials. My job is flexible -- one day I'm writing an article to pitch to the GRBJ, the next day I'm writing up an analysis on our performance over the first half of the year, and the next day I'm writing emails to clients for eight hours.

As a freelance writer, all I do is write. If I'm not working on articles for Revue or Women's Lifestyle (I'm ALWAYS working on articles for them), then I'm pitching ideas to other local and regional magazines, updating my website and LinkedIn, or working on short stories for publication.

 

Please briefly describe your path from graduation at GVSU to your current position.
I started my first full-time position before graduation at GVSU. I began as a copywriter at Create and Craft USA. From there, I moved into a Social Media Management role at Create and Craft. After two years in this position, I moved onto my current role at Green Giftz.

As a Freelance Writer, post-graduation I struggled to find my groove. I began with a few pieces published in local magazines and national/international journals. My main goal was to keep my portfolio present. Because of this, and a lot of networking, I was able to secure my position with Revue Magazine. After a strong pitch to Women's Lifestyle Magazine, and again, more networking, I was able to secure my position with them.

 

What parts of the writing major had the strongest impact on you as a professional?
Being creative. We are in a world where creativity is key. People ask "Why did you get a writing degree?" It is because, yes, I am incredibly passionate about writing, but it is also because I'm incredibly passionate about CREATIVITY. Workplaces need creative minds.

 

What advice would you offer to current/future writing majors at Grand Valley?
Publish your work. Or try to. Always. And create a website RIGHT NOW (or after you read this). Stay relevant. If you want to be a poet, write poetry, but have a back up plan to help you along the way. Get work experience in different areas and be okay with it. I left GVSU with six jobs and three internships on my résumé, and they were all in different lines of work. I worked because I needed money to support myself, but I also worked to gain experience and network. I can't stress these enough.

Kitty Cats



Page last modified January 16, 2018