B.A. in English, 2013
Favorite memories of being an undergraduate English major:
The professors, books, and organizations that forced me out of my comfort zone and into critical thinking. And the amazing friends I made along the way.
Copywriter II, Product and Packaging
When you graduated with a degree in English from MSU, what were your plans for your future? Has your career path mostly realized those early plans, or have you discovered new plans and goals along the way?
With my newly printed English degree in hand, I had plans to continue my education in graduate school and pursue a career in publishing or teaching at the collegiate level. Life took a turn, as it often does, and I ended up doing marketing copy at a small agency in Tupelo, Mississippi. From there, I moved to Atlanta and worked as a copywriter at several agencies and brands, finally accepting a role as a Product and Packaging Copywriter at Gap. I never imagined I would work in a corporate environment, but I’ve realized that I am very well adept for this career. I’m constantly challenged and pushed creatively, but most importantly, I get paid to write. And I love that.
What is your current occupation, and what does your work mostly consist of?
I am a Copywriter II at Gap. I mostly work on packaging copy (the good bits on the tags of your clothing items or the boxes and bags you receive them in) as well as product copy (the good bits on websites telling you exactly what to expect from the item you intend to buy). I also get to focus on SEO (search engine optimization) copy for our website to ensure we are getting the right message to the right people at the right time. Another element of my job is naming new products or fabrics, like “The Big Puff” for puffer jackets or “The Y2K Flare” for teen flare jeans.
Which skills that you learned as an English major do you use most in your job?
Thorough research skills, critical thinking, problem solving, grammar, creativity. I might not be combing through literature and research articles looking for a new perspective, but I am challenged to find new perspectives on products, fabrics, or hidden details, and write to those in a way that connects or provides value to customers. The same elements apply, just in different contexts.
What additional skills did you need to learn in order to do your job, and how did you learn them?
Jumping from a literary and academic world to a marketing world was a bit of an adjustment. Oxford commas were out, and conversational language was in. I had to change the way I wrote to fit with the demands of my new job. I also had to learn the psychology behind why people shop then use that knowledge in my marketing copy. Some of this came from doing a lot of reading and research on my own (something English majors are very well acquainted with); the rest came from trial and error. Ultimately, the basis of what I needed for my career as a copywriter came from my English degree.
Are there common misconceptions about your career field, which current English majors might share, that you have learned the truth about?
I have heard, quite frequently, that going into copywriting or marketing is “selling out” as a writer. While I can understand (not all marketing is ideal), I do get to write every day. I use my degree, my words, and my English major critical thinking every day. I have had the incredible pleasure of helping pets find their forever homes, matching kidney donors to people in need of life-saving transplants, showcasing easy dressing details to exhausted newborn moms who need a little extra help, and attracting new teachers to a school system who needed them. Not all marketing copy is about getting someone to buy something. It’s often about awareness, teaching moments, or, at times, it’s simply informational.
In what ways does your career enrich your life and help you to achieve your personal as well as your professional goals?
I tackle a new challenge every day. I write something fun every day. And most days I prove to myself that I can do just about anything if I try hard enough. This career was a surprise at first, but it’s been so rewarding. I’ve seen my work on billboards, in basketball stadium elevators, and on social posts that hit over one million views. I can see that my work makes a difference, and that makes me feel valuable. Ultimately this encourages me to work on personal writing that I submit to be published. I’m proud to say that I have published a couple of pieces since graduating from MSU. It’s also quite nice to get paid well for my words. What English major could ask for more?
What advice do you have for undergraduate English majors right now who might want to follow the career path you did?
Push yourself outside of your comfort zone, and don’t be afraid to take a risk or two. Ask questions, schedule time with your professors, write your papers early and get feedback, join clubs and be active in them,submit your poetry/short stories/fiction to different arts journals. Learn to accept constructive criticism or defeat as a stepping stone to your next victory. Take a marketing or psychology or economics class. Look for internships at marketing agencies specifically for copywriting. Email me! I’ll answer any questions I can.
Updated Feb. 2023