Where Can UVic English Take You?

Book designer, web developer, digital librarian, lawyer, social media manager, communication coordinator, publicist, professor, archivist, museum director, teacher, filmmaker, freelance writer, editor: these are just some of the exciting careers that UVic English alumni are pursuing.

In this series about alumni and student successes, current English undergraduates and Communication Assistants Madison George-Berlet and Anne Hung share stories about where UVic English can take you as well as short interviews with alumni about their professional careers, current jobs, and volunteer experiences. From “Working in Publishing” and “Working in Libraries & Collections” to “Working with Local Businesses,” “Working in Education,” and “Working in Creative Communications,” these stories of alumni and student success will inspire you to contemplate where UVic English can take you!

If you have an alumni success story to share with us, we would love to hear from you! Please get in touch with us on email at englreception@uvic.ca or on Twitter @UVicEnglish.

Working in Publishing

Before you found your favourite novel at your local bookstore, a team had to edit it, adjust its layout, design its cover, and market it to booksellers. I had the pleasure of speaking with three UVic English alumni who currently do this exciting behind-the-scenes work in the Canadian publishing industry.

Ryan AndersonAs a publicist at ZG Stories, alumna Ryann Anderson supports authors throughout the publishing process: “I communicate with media across the country, coordinate interviews, plan book launches and events, design ads, write for social media, and work with a lot of bookstagrammers to share our titles online.” Anderson graduated from UVic’s English Honours program with a minor in Professional Communication in 2019: “I’m very thankful for all the research, reading, and writing that I was able to complete during my time at UVic that honed the skills I use in my professional career.” Ryann says that what she likes best about working as a publicist is “helping authors shine. I come on to a project when writers are in a really vulnerable place—they’re getting ready to send their book out into the world for reviewers and readers. I’m there to support them through that time and help tell the world why their work deserves to be read.”

Karyn WisselinkKaryn Wisselink (BA 2015) also found her calling in the marketing side of publishing. The marketing and production coordinator at Athabasca University Press, an open access scholarly press based in Edmonton, Alberta, Karyn says, “the skills I acquired at UVic were essential for getting my first job in publishing…. Distilling an entire book into an essay requires the same skills as writing jacket and catalogue copy.” As a key member of a busy academic press, she isn’t limited to working with print books—“AU Press publishes all their books in both print and digital formats so I get to work on things like alt-text for images and additional digital resources for the free books on the Press’s reading platform.” Karyn is also the social media manager for Read Alberta, a website that celebrates the Alberta book community.

Erin. F. Chan - Photo by Erinn Johnston-WatsonErin Chan (BA 2019), who double majored in English and Pacific and Asian Studies, explains how UVic English prepared her to work in publishing: “So many of the skills I developed over the course of my English degree have helped me immensely in my publishing pursuits thus far—from being able to approach texts and perform skills in close reading and critical analysis to communicating effectively through advanced writing and editing competencies.” Erin is currently completing her Master of Publishing at Simon Fraser University, where she also works as a teaching assistant. As a TA, she supports students as they work through “various book design projects—one of which includes conceptualizing and designing a print illustrated book based on the un/settled art installation by Otoniya J. Okot Bitek and Chantal Gibson at SFU’s Belzberg Library.” Erin also recently completed an internship with independent book publisher Arsenal Pulp Press; “I loved working with such a passionate team and seeing the behind-the-scenes of the amazing and important books they are publishing.”

Beyond their English courses, Karyn and Erin honed their editorial skills by volunteering with UVic’s English undergraduate journal, The Albatross. Additionally, Ryann found hands-on experience through marketing and communications co-ops, while Karyn gained insight into the literary publishing world through a Work Study position at The Malahat Review. Erin completed a work term at a local arts non-profit through UVic’s Work Experience Program, honing her marketing and communications skills through outreach.

Karyn, Ryann, and Erin are just a few of the UVic English alumni working in the exciting world of publishing. Read their full interviews here, and be sure to check back to this page to find out where else a UVic English degree can take you!

By Anne Hung

Working in Libraries, Archives, and Museums

A love of books and cultural history has taken four UVic English alumni to positions in post-secondary and public libraries, conservation, and museums. For these alumni, work in the diverse field of library, archive, and museum studies provides rewarding opportunities to share knowledge and connect with a wide range of audiences and learners.  

Lindsay TrippLindsay Tripp (BA 2006) works at snəw̓eyəɬ leləm̓ Langara College as a reference and instruction librarian and cites her “passion for public service, academic research, and education” as inspiring her to pursue library and archival studies. As a librarian liaison for six departments, Lindsay has diverse responsibilities, from consulting with students about research to responding to copyright queries. Lindsay credits UVic English with teaching her how to “read closely, think critically, and communicate complex ideas clearly and concisely” and how to “cultivate a strong narrative voice”—all skills she regards as essential for her job. Lindsay also shared her favourite part of her work: “As a first-generation university graduate, I’m passionate about creating accessible pathways to higher education.…  As lead for the college’s open education committee and community of practice, I facilitate initiatives that promote affordable and high-quality education for all. It’s a privilege to have a job that fills your cup and I’m grateful to UVic English for helping me find my way here.”

Elizabeth BassettElizabeth Bassett (MA 2016) recently completed her dual program in Library and Archival studies at UBC (MASLIS) and has worked a variety of student contract jobs in the field: “I’ve worked as Archives Assistant at the Vancouver Art Gallery Library and Archives, as Digital Access Assistant at the University of Victoria Libraries Special Collections and University Archives, and as a research assistant for Dr. Jennifer Douglas’s project on grief work in archives.” Elizabeth has just begun a position as Digital Access Librarian at the West Vancouver Memorial Library, where she will design and teach technology workshops for children and adults. During her MA in English, she was exposed to archival studies through UVic’s co-op program and honed helpful skills by “working as a teaching assistant for UVic English (instructional skills are highly relevant to many jobs in the field).” Elizabeth’s work in libraries and archives fulfils her passion for learning: “Libraries and archives are ... truly spaces of life-long learning, and I love going to work knowing that my job requires that I constantly challenge myself to learn something new.”

imageBrittany Vis (BA 2012) is Executive Director at the Maritime Museum of BC, but she started working in the Museum collections as an archivist. Inspired to pursue archival studies because of her love of reading and stories, she also “loved the idea of always being surrounded by books and historic records. Of course, my role with the museum has evolved and I spend less time with the collection than I used to, but that’s what led me to where I am today.” As Executive Director, Brittany oversees all of the Museum’s operations: “I’ll spend time working on operational tasks, developing museum policies and procedures, working with various museum committees on specific tasks, writing grants, overseeing our finances, and planning for future activities.” Brittany’s early experiences in UVic English remain valuable in her current position: “UVic English gave me skills such as writing, editing, and critical thinking, which I use on a daily basis.”

Emily ScottEmily Scott has taken her love of cultural heritage, developed during her English studies, into her work as an Archivist and Curator for the BC Conservation Officer Service through the Youth Employment Program, where she is documenting over 100 years of historical objects and creating a display. Emily completed her BA (2016) and MA (2018) in English at UVic and was exposed to archives through classes in UVic Special Collections: “I was interested in cultural heritage in the sense that culture and historical knowledge could be passed on through generations. I loved exploring this through Indigenous literature and multicultural stories. Once I realized that I could adapt my love of Special Collections and cultural history through objects, I decided archival studies and museums were the place for me.” Emily singles out an undergraduate course in modernism for sparking her interest in UVic English: “When I first started studying at UVic I wasn't declared yet, but it was a Modernist literature class that got me interested in majoring in English. I was able to take my passion for reading and turn it into a professional qualification. The feedback and support that I got from the department helped me develop my writing skills. And … when it was time to move on from UVic, I gained support from those same professors when they helped me with my applications for studying abroad in Aberdeen, Scotland. UVic English left a great impact on me.”

If you are interested in learning more about the wide range of work that can stem from pursuing library and archival studies, read the full interviews with these UVic alumni here. If you think archival studies may be for you, check out UVic’s Special Collections as well as UVic English courses that take place in Special Collections, including ENGL 479: Victorian & Edwardian Children’s Fiction and ENGL 481: In the Archives.

By Madison George-Berlet

Working in Communications

Communications work offers a wide range of experiences, such as collaborating with clients, devising marketing strategies, and creating digital design. Three UVic English alumni provide insight on the communications work they do within their own businesses.

 

imageSonu Purhar (MA 2010) is a marketing consultant at her company, Crafted INK Consulting Inc., where her tasks “involve drafting strategic plans, writing news releases, attending/organizing a film-related event, or editing a report.” After graduation, Sonu’s network led her to a position at Tourism Vancouver, where she worked in corporate communications and international and trade media before launching Crafted INK Consulting Inc. Sonu’s various clients include economic agencies, tourism bureaus, PR companies, and film studios. She enjoys this range of work that “allows her to switch from Hollywood films to economic reports.” UVic English helped her develop research skills that are essential to a job in which clients work in many different industries. Sonu thanks UVic English for giving her the skills to start her company: “the Masters program taught me to work against extremely tight deadlines, to stay motivated and focused, and to develop an internal drive to embrace complex projects.”

 

imageSusan Kerschbaumer (MA 1993) has also learned to work tight deadlines while running her own communications firm. Taking her Masters degree required self-directed study, which prepared her for self-employment after working for newspapers, the arts, and CHUM Television. Susan’s workday “might include coming up with a strategy as to how certain information should be communicated, actual writing (which could be web copy, a news release, a report or any number of other things), or meeting with clients.” She also carries the firm’s administrative tasks: “looking for new work, submitting proposals, and invoicing, for example.” Susan uses the analytical skills she learned from UVic English to communicate information through writing. In addition to her English MA, Susan holds a Bachelor of Business Administration from Simon Fraser University.

 

Emma FanningEmma Fanning (BA 2017) owns Little Fox Design, a green graphic-design business where she “work[s] primarily with sustainable businesses to translate their sustainable commitments through their visuals and packaging.” After Emma gained experience as an in-house designer, she became interested in founding a business for sustainable graphic design. Little Fox’s recent work has involved working with alternative protein and meat companies: “it’s fascinating learning about the amazing sustainable innovations happening in the food industry and to be behind the scenes working with the next generation of food.” Emma gained research skills from UVic English: “many of our clients are coming to us for complicated, technical sustainable analyses of packaging materials and sustainability practices. The long papers I had to research and write in my upper-year English courses and Professional Communications courses were invaluable for teaching me how to research and effectively vet sources.”

 

Read more about Sonu’s, Susan’s, and Emma’s careers here!

 

By Colleen Bidner

About the authors

Anne Hung

Anne Hung

Anne Hung is a Communications Assistant for the English Department through the Work Study program. She is currently in her final year of undergraduate study at UVic, pursuing an English Honours degree with a minor in Professional Communication. Apart from her involvement with the Communications Committee, Anne is a Research Assistant on the Crafting Communities project, Managing Editor of The Albatross English undergraduate journal, Vice-President of the English Students’ Association, and an Editorial Assistant at The Malahat Review.  

Madison George-Berlet

Madison George-Berlet

Madison George-Berlet is a Communications Assistant for the English Department through the Work Study program. She is in her fifth and final year of an English Honours degree. She is also a member of the UVic English Students’ Association and a substantive editor for the English undergraduate journal The Albatross. After her graduation, Madison plans on pursuing a Bachelor of Education and teaching English at the secondary level.

Colleen Bidner

colleenbidner

Colleen Bidner is a Communications Assistant for the English Department through the Work Study program. She is in her fourth year of study as a Creative Writing and English major. Colleen has edited for The Albatross English undergraduate journal and the Martlet. She has volunteered for The Malahat Review and worked as a Publishing Intern for Ronsdale Press through the Co-op and Career program.