BA in English –> Assistant Editor for Online Music Gear Marketplace

“Editing” can mean a lot of things — not just working on books or magazines.

We recently spoke to Carly Smith, who graduated in 2016 with a bachelor’s degree in English, and who currently works as an assistant editor at Here are some of the great things she had to say about how she decided on her career path and how her training in English helped her.

This is what editing looks like for Carly: is the world’s largest online marketplace for musicians. We facilitate the buying and selling of music gear online between all kinds of musicians. Our users include everyone from larger brick and mortar shops down to individual private sellers to famous artists like Jimmy Chamberlain, Rick Nielsen, Ray LaMontagne, and more.

In tandem with the marketplace, we also produce written and video content on the Reverb News side of the site. Those features include interviews and performances with musicians, tips and how–tos as related to music and gear, product demos, and much more.

… I first started as part of the Listings Team, which is responsible for making sure that the thousands of listings uploaded to the site daily are in accordance with our guidelines and that the products listed are matched with our Price Guide.

Three months after starting at Reverb, I was promoted to an editorial position. I now work on the News side of Reverb full–time with two other editors. In this station, I write original content, interview artists, edit, work with freelancers to formulate and actualize pitches into pieces.

The study of English literature might seem a long way away from cataloging rare Rickenbackers or curating online tutorials for playing James Brown riffs, but for Carly it’s all of a piece:

My English degree has been beneficial in all of the obvious ways. Spending years studying grammar and syntax has certainly had an immensely positive influence on my career, considering how much editing I’m responsible for every day.

The exercise in writing papers was also tremendously helpful in getting me to this point. My own writing for Reverb is both creative and informative and all of it is rather heavily researched, so the process of writing research papers about a creative work — such as a novel or a film — definitely helped me to develop an assertive editorial voice that isn’t totally stale or devoid of personality.

Although Carly credits writing for buzz magazine and Smile Politely as helpful in pointing her in a career direction, her work in the classroom was central to the college experience that got her where she is. Not only was Carly one of the co-authors of “A Lecture from the Lectured,” a Chronicle of Higher Education piece co-authored by students in Prof. Catherine Prendergast’s course on writing for publication, Carly says

…the best parts of my college experience were directly related to some of the teachers I was able to take classes with. Whether or not I was initially interested in the subject material when I first signed up, it was often the professor who determined how much I ended up enjoying the class.

I took classes in which already killer subject material was enhanced by an even more passionate professor, as was the case when I took Modern Fantasy Lit and Comics & Graphic Narratives with Rob Barrett and Jim Hansen’s Fincher/Nolan and Hitchcock film classes.

I was also able to take ENGL 301 with Hansen — a mandatory class with a less than stellar reputation — and it turned out to be one of my favorite courses at U of I because of how great of a professor Hansen is.

Similarly, I decided to take a class that I wasn’t looking forward to at all about John Milton in the last semester of my senior year to satisfy another requirement. It was taught by Catharine Gray, and though I might not have been converted into a massive Milton enthusiast by the end of it, it still turned out to be one of the best classes I took.

These three professors and a handful of others were what made U of I specifically special to me.

You can read the entirety of our interview with Carly here, and you can get in contact with her (and other alumni working in the music business) through our alumni mentoring network.

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