Alumni Snapshot: Luke Trayser, Copywriter

luke-trayserWe add new alumni to the Department of English  Alumni Mentoring Network all the time. Our newest participant is Luke Trayser, a senior copywriter at Ivor Andrew in Chicago.  Luke was kind enough to send along some advice for current students interested in careers in copywriting:

  • Even if you don’t have experience, you have your words. Your portfolio is vital. Write all the time, write for free, and put the stuff you’re proudest of in your portfolio.
  • During an interview, don’t try to be someone you think they want. That’s a good way to be stuck in a job that doesn’t fit. Instead, just be you. If you do that and get turned down, it was not the right place for you.
  • Most writing jobs require a cover letter and résumé, but it’s much easier, and more effective, to apply with your portfolio and résumé instead. It’s a hilarious little irony that the people who ask for cover letters can’t stand reading them.

Not sure what Luke means by “portfolio”?  Have a look at his!

2016 Undergraduate Creative Writing Award Winners

“resonates beyond the page”
“blown away by the taut restraint of the language”
“harrowing emotional journey”
“unsettled, unsettling, raw. And yet, the complexity of the thinking shines through”
“Wow.”
 
These are few sound bites from the judges’ comments on this year’s creative award winners. Thirty-eight students submitted stories; fifty-seven students submitted poems. Although only nine prizes were awarded, the nature of creative writing is such that we in the English department can all take pride in these achievements. People fDepartmentOfEnglish_graphic_vertical (2)rom a wide range of disciplines at the U of I choose to hone their writing talents in our workshop
classes, where students routinely transcend the role of “learner” to become audience, critic, and artist all at once, and where the deeply personal act of writing becomes a collaborative endeavor. 
 

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Publishing Prescriptions from The Book Doctors

At the end of February, prolific authors Arielle Eckstut and David Henry Sterry (The Book Doctors) visited the University of Illinois. The duo hosted a series of workshops—“Traditional, Independent, or Self-Publishing?”; “Making Editing Fun”; and “Perfecting Your Pitch”—followed by Pitchapalooza, an event they describe as the American Idol of PitchapaloozaInstagrambook pitches (minus Simon Cowell). Over the course of these four events, The Book Doctors imparted to attendees a wealth of valuable advice about writing and publishing any kind of book. Attending the events, I came away with both practical tips and a general sense of the complex processes by which a book idea evolves into a published text. Here are just a few of the takeaways from the events:

Getting a book published requires research and planning

The Book Doctors opened their first workshop with good news: anyone can get published! But they followed it immediately with bad news: anyone can get published. In such a competitive market, The Book Doctors stressed, having a great idea isn’t enough to turn

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Why English and Creative Writing Majors Should Be in DC this Fall

  1. The deadline for the fall illinois in dc capitolsemester Illinois in Washington program is April 1, and you don’t need to have your internship lined up in advance. In fact, many employers don’t even start advertising internships until May, so you’ll have plenty of time over the summer to find the right internship for you.
  2. Once you express interest in the program by emailing Prof. Susan Dimock, you dimockwill start getting announcements of internship openings. You’ll get even more once you officially apply.
  3. Prof. Dimock, who lives in DC and has been running this program for years, knows everything there is to know about getting a job in Washington.  She will help you craft a first-rate resume and cover letter to get the internship you want. (She’s also really nice and approachable!
  4. There are a LOT more opportunities in DC in the fall than there are in the summer.  Most are unpaid, but everyone has a better shot at the available paid internships simply because there is less competition.
  5. The cost is similar to spending a semester living in the dorms, particularly if you budget to account for the higher cost of living in DC.
  6. You don’t have to find your own housing and social life comes ready-made. You’ll share a studio apartment with a fellow student in a building housing student interns from all over the country.
  7. You’ll take 12 credits, 3 of which can be an online course of your choosing.
  8. Contrary to popular belief, government agencies and non-profits in DC aren’t looking for political science majors, econ majors, or hard-core politics junkies. They want people who can communicate well. They like the sound of “English major”–that sounds like a person who can write. They want that and don’t see enough of it. 
  9. International students can’t get internships in the federal government, and paid internships can be complicated, but they ARE eligible for jobs in congressional offices, think-tanks, not-for-profit organizations, and the embassies/consulates of their home countries.  Organizations that have an international focus are particularly open to hiring international students, regardless of home country.