Troi Watts graduated from Ball State University in 2019 with a Bachelor of Arts in English with a concentration in Creative Writing. While at Ball State, she participated in the Reel Deal and the Digital Literature Review and earned Departmental Honors in English. She now works as a Press Secretary for the Indiana House Democratic Caucus.
What did you study while you were at Ball State?
At Ball State, I majored in English, Creative Writing, and minored in Professional Writing. When I originally chose my major, I wanted to become a screenwriter. I still do, but going through the Creative Writing program opened my eyes to so many other options.
What did your path look like from graduation to your career?
In my senior year, I became more interested in politics and government, so I enrolled in an introductory government course and was hooked right away. From there, I searched for internships in government agencies and came across the Indiana House Democratic Caucus (IHDC) internship program, which didn’t open applications until the summer after I graduated.
So while I waited for the application to open, I worked part-time at the Muncie Public Library and, in my spare time, looked for other employment (I wanted the IHDC internship so bad, but didn’t want to put all my eggs in one basket). But nothing really came along and in the summer I applied for the IHDC internship. I was accepted and worked as a Legislative Affairs and Constituent Services intern with IHDC through the 2020 Legislative Session and Interim.
During my internship, I learned a lot about how to apply my English background to legislative and constituent work. I got an inside look at the personal connections and legislative processes that culminate into new state law. I was able to use that understanding and tailored writing ability to earn my Press Secretary position in December 2020.
What does a typical day or week look like in your position?
Honestly, every day is different, especially during the Legislative Session. I am responsible for all things media-related for about eight Democratic state representatives. Typically, I start my day by looking over last night’s news. That involves seeing what topics and legislation is trending and where our members can offer more insight. Throughout the day I monitor any media requests for my members, watch legislative committees and session, and write press releases. Writing press releases is always a large part my day. Usually, I’m asked to write about something that I know very little about personally – like I am not an insurance expert, but I’m tasked with writing a release on Medicaid – in the voice of someone else. It’s a lovely challenge that keeps every day interesting.
What is your favorite part of being a press secretary?
I pursued this position because I wanted to use my writing to make a real difference. As a press secretary, I help constituents understand the intentions of their legislators and learn more about legislation that affects them. On top of that, I get to write every day. It may not always be the kind of writing I wish I was doing, but it’s writing and it makes me happy.
What are the most valuable skills you learned as an English major? How have they helped you post-graduation?
One of the most valuable skills I learned was how to recognize stylistic choices like tone, verbiage, and voice. Knowing how to control and replicate these types of elements makes your writing adaptable to most situations. This has come in handy a lot during my time with the IHDC. When I’m helping prepare a member for an interview, it helps to have an understanding of their voice so that I can put together effective talking points or relevant research.
What is your advice to other English majors?
Trust yourself. There are going to be a lot of people who try to limit your path to teaching or writing books. Thankfully, English majors can do pretty much anything we set our minds to. Being able to write and communicate well is an invaluable skill that employers want.
You can connect with Troi Watts on LinkedIn.