Gina Klaff graduated from Ball State University in 2020 with a B.A. in Creative Writing and minors in Professional Writing & Emerging Media and Studio Art. She is currently located in the southwest suburbs of Chicago and works as a Communications Specialist for an art supply company. While at Ball State, she was involved with The Broken Plate, Compass Creative, Book Arts Collaborative, and found her passion through Ball State’s Career Discovery and Stars to Steer By. When not at work, she enjoys reading, baking, and shopping for vinyl.

What does a typical week in your position look like?

I tend to bounce between a lot of different tasks throughout the week, or even throughout a single day, and the tasks sometimes change based on the projects I’m working on. The tasks I always have on my to-do list are responding to and assisting customers via Facebook and Instagram comments and posts and Instagram stories, writing and editing copy for product webpages and reviewing pages before they go live, responding to queries that come through our communications inbox, and assembling, editing, and scheduling weekly retail notes, which include instructions and information that our stores need to complete their weekly tasks.

Can you describe your work environment? 

headshot photo of Gina Klaff

I work at one of my company’s offices every Monday and then I work from home Tuesday through Friday. Mondays at the office are usually loud and a little more fast-paced because my coworkers and I try and fit most of our meetings in on Monday so we can talk in person. My office’s dress code is “business casual” so jeans, a nice button up shirt or a sweater, and clean sneakers would be considered an appropriate outfit.
My company operates on a 9 – 5 schedule with an hour break for lunch. Mostly everyone, me included, takes lunch from around noon to 1pm and there’s an understanding amongst all my coworkers that no meetings are to be scheduled between noon and 1pm.
In terms of projects, I normally work on my smaller weekly tasks alone and work with a team for larger projects that may take weeks or months to complete. Most of the tasks assigned to me are controlled by my company’s plans, but my boss is also very open to hearing my ideas for new projects I’d like to take on and is eager to assist me with shifting tasks around so I can integrate these projects into my to-do list.

What are the most valuable skills you learned in your major?

The most valuable skills I gained from pursuing my creative writing degree were how to clearly present my ideas, how to provide constructive feedback, how to look for (or invent) creative solutions to problems, and how to empathize with others and understand their perspectives. The classes I feel helped me the most were all my fiction and nonfiction courses, my rhetoric course, and Literary Editing and Publishing, in which you get to work on The Broken Plate.
For someone who is interested in pursuing a job in communications or working as a copywriter, I would recommend honing your editing and proofreading skills any chance you get because you must be detail oriented. You also need to be organized, be prepared to simultaneously handle various different tasks, be comfortable with providing feedback and constructive criticism to others and be able to write and think creatively as well as handle working on technical and professional writing projects.
I would recommend students pick up other majors or minors that will support and strengthen the skills and experiences they receive from their creative writing or English degrees, such as: professional writing and emerging media, journalism, communications, and marketing, to name a few. Also, make sure you take advantage of all the wonderful opportunities the Humanities department at Ball State has to offer and work on The Broken Plate, the Digital Literature Review, or get involved with Compass Creative. If you can, make sure you’re also looking into relevant internships and volunteer work. A great website for looking for remote volunteer work is Catchafire.

As a former Compass Creative student, how do you feel the skills that you learned with Compass influenced your career path or work ethic?

I definitely became more interested in working in marketing, social media, and communications due to my involvement with Compass Creative, and I realized I enjoyed working on marketing and communications projects. I learned what it takes to represent an organization, how to create consistent, branded content, the basics of SEO, and how to collaborate with different teams to develop marketing campaigns and other projects, all of which are skills that I use in my current job nearly every day.

With your experience in Career Discovery and Stars to Steer By, how did those courses influence your career path and educate you on all the routes an aspiring English major may take?

Before Career Discovery and Stars to Steer By, I didn’t even think someone with my degree could pursue careers in or even belonged in fields like marketing, law, business, social media, advertising, SEO, etc. Thanks to Career Discovery and Stars to Steer By, I quickly realized how I could apply my skills in those fields and that there was an abundance of career opportunities I could explore.

What is your advice to other Humanities students?

Take the time to learn about different careers, even ones you think you may not be interested in. You can find a lot of information with just a simple Google search, but if you can, find people who have jobs you want and try and talk to them and ask them questions. Also, keep in touch with your peers and mentors, even if it’s just through LinkedIn.

Last words of advice?

Know what your time and work are worth, be confident in your strengths but also be aware of areas and skills you could continue to improve on, and don’t be afraid to tell people how great you are what you do.
For more information, visit the English Department’s website and hear more stories like this!