Category Archives: Guest Posts

Madisen Ray Petrosky: succeeding with “a positive attitude and a well-written sentence”

Madisen Ray Petrosky graduated from BSU with a BA in English Literature in 2011. After attending the University of Denver Publishing Institute in 2012, she started a career in social media management and nonprofit marketing. She’s managed #GivingTuesday campaigns, website redesigns, and lots of hashtag holidays. She recently took a position in Public Relations. In this blog post, she recounts her journey from an internship to her first job to her exciting new position. And she highlights how her education in English was crucial at every step.

“You do you.” It’s often a throwaway line on social media, but what better way to succinctly affirm individuals who are doing what they love because they love it?

The last time I wrote for the Ball State English Blog was the winter of 2012. I had recently attended the University of Denver Publishing Institute and hoped to go into publishing as an editor or marketer. As optimistic as I was at the time, I knew I needed more experience.

In January 2013, I started a marketing internship at a law firm in downtown Indianapolis. Five months there gave me a crash course in email etiquette, how to navigate an office, and what it’s like to commute in every weather scenario the Midwest can throw at you. I also realized that I didn’t want to move to New York just to enter the publishing industry when I could do a lot of what I enjoyed – writing, researching, posting on social media – right here in Indy. (A trip to NYC a couple years later that laid me out with the flu confirmed that New York is a fun place to visit, but not somewhere I want to live.)

Towards the end of my internship, I interviewed for a marketing coordinator position with Kappa Alpha Theta Foundation. The job description seemed ideal: strong written and verbal communication skills, experience with social media and website management, and knowledge of Greek life, which I had as a previous Sigma Kappa at Ball State. After a short interview process, I was delighted to be offered the job on the second-to-last-day of my internship. I enthusiastically accepted (which is a low-key way of saying I jumped up and down in my tiny apartment and called my mom, screaming).

When I started at Theta Foundation in June of 2013, I had no idea that I was beginning an incredible four-year journey that would teach me so much – and see me rely on what I learned from Ball State so often.

Project management was a huge aspect of my job at Theta Foundation. Coordinating multiple vendors when designing, printing, and mailing an annual report, or being part of a multi-member team designing a website from scratch–these projects require keeping tabs on the project, the deadlines, and how you can ferry it along. I didn’t always love group projects at Ball State, but unless you work in an office of one, most of what you do will be a group project. You’ll learn quickly that not asking for help when you need it or trying to do too much yourself can be detrimental to your mental health and your career.

In four years of working with incredible individuals at Theta Foundation, I began to think about what was next. I could write about nearly every aspect of Theta Foundation in my sleep, and as comforting as that was, it was time to infuse some variety into my daily work. After having dinner with a friend who worked at a public relations agency, I started to think about working in an agency environment.

No matter what type of agency you work in, there are a few things I can guarantee: it’s going to be a lot of work, you’re going to be busy, and you’re never going to be bored. I was ready for that next step. After submitting my writing samples and navigating the interview process, I was thrilled to accept an account executive position at Dittoe Public Relations in September of 2017.

Now you may be thinking, “Ball State has a public relations major. Shouldn’t you be a PR major if you want to work in PR?” I wondered that myself and said so during my interview. But my interviewer, now my office mentor (and a fellow Ball State grad), said to me: “We can teach you the techniques and the tools used during PR, but the most important skill you’ll use every day is writing.” And writing is something I can do thanks to my English degree.

In addition to writing everything from media pitches to press releases to technical articles, I do a lot of research to be able to write all those items. Being on four account teams for four clients in four different industries, I don’t always know the nuances of the subjects I’m writing about. As was true in Ball State classes or my internship, being able to take a deep dive into a new subject then distill that information succinctly is a vital skill.

Time management and structuring my days are two skills I learned at BSU that I’ve relied on most in my change from Theta Foundation to Dittoe. At Theta Foundation, everything I did was for and about Theta Foundation – every email I sent, blog post I wrote, file I sorted, or brainstorm session I was a part of was for Theta Foundation. But at Dittoe, because it’s an agency, everything I do is divided between four clients and Dittoe itself. You have to able to structure your day, switch tasks – or buckle down – as needed, and have a great attitude during it all. A positive attitude and a well-written sentence will get you far.

I didn’t expect my career would lead me to PR, but I’m completely enamored with it. It takes everything I love about marketing and social media and adds a renewed focus on writing and digging in to my local community. Every single day is different and keeps me on my toes. My English degree gave me the tools to succeed in PR, and I’m delighted that I can be a part of the Dittoe PR team today.

I’m doing me with my English degree. You do you.

Sometimes, Writers Live ‘In a Lonely Place’

By Anthony Miglieri

There are a whole lot of films, and great films at that, about screenwriting. A few of the best are Barton Fink (1991), written and directed by the Coen Brothers, and Adaptation. (2002), directed by Spike Jonze and written by Charlie Kaufman. However, few films I have ever seen are able to paint such a vivid and violent portrait of a screenwriting artist as the under-appreciated noir piece In a Lonely Place (1950), which was directed by Nicolas Ray, screenwritten by Andrew Solt, and adapted by Edmund H. North from a Dorothy B. Hughes story.  

When this film opens, Hollywood screenwriter Dixon Steele (portrayed by Humphrey Bogart) is bitter and frustrated. He hasn’t had a hit in years and his latest assignment is to adapt a popular novel that Dix is sure is trash. Unwilling to read the bestseller himself, he has a celebrity-obsessed young woman relay the plot to him at his home. Soon after she leaves, she turns up dead and Dix strikes up a relationship with a sultry new neighbor who has doubts about his professed innocence in the case. Continue reading

To the Undecided English Majors

By: Kaitlyn Sumner

So, you’re great at writing an 8-page research paper in under 24 hours. You’re able to finish an entire novel within a night and be ready for a class discussion the next morning. You can relate centuries old rhetorical arguments to modern-day marketing efforts.

The question you ask yourself daily: “What am I even going to do with this?”

Well, we’re going to remind you of three things:

You have skills.

You’ve more than likely heard the timeless question: “What are you going to do with an English degree?” (Another form of this question: “Are you going to teach/be an author, or…?”) This has cropped up multiple instances throughout your college career: a family reunion, a work meeting, an organization event.

You blush, or maybe you get annoyed. It’s literally always the same question, you say to yourself. You have to politely explain that, no, you aren’t going to teach. No, you aren’t going to write novels. And, yeah, you might do something like *insert your goal career here*.

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Hannah’s Internship Experience: Wiley Publishing

By: Hannah Partridge

This summer, I was fortunate enough to be offered an Acquisitions Internship at Wiley Publishing in Fishers, Indiana. Specifically, I was an intern for the For Dummies brand. Most people are familiar with the iconic black and yellow reference guides, and over the summer I had the opportunity to see exactly how the company creates their books and maintains their global brand.

First things first, I have to say that I am unsure I would have received this internship had I not been a part of Jacket Copy Creative last year. The skills and experience I gained in that course filled up a blank space on my resume, and it was the first thing I was asked about in my interviews. When English faculty tells you to take immersive learning courses, and tells you they look good on resumes, they’re not kidding.

My internship was full time, 8:30-4:30 every day, and I commuted to the office from my apartment in Muncie. During my time at Wiley, I completed a variety of tasks and projects. I learned to use the company’s various online tools and programs to check data about their books, and put the results in various spreadsheets (Proficiency in Microsoft Excel is another great skill to have). I also worked with other interns to develop marketing tools and original content for, and researched potential authors and topics for new For Dummies books. Using skills obtained in ENG 430, I used Adobe InDesign to design and format documents using For Dummies logos, icons, and other branded elements. My manager, Amy, wanted me to see all the inner workings of the publishing industry, so she had me sit in on various conference calls and weekly meetings to get a sense of everything that goes into creating a For Dummies book.

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Digital Writing Studio: Saving Lives, One Blog at a Time

By: Cecelia Westbrook

The Nightmare: Blogging

When it comes to doing things on the internet, I struggle. A lot. I didn’t understand Twitter at all until six months ago, and I still only understand basics. I have many friends with beautifully laid out blogs that I admire, but I’ve always told myself, “That is not your literary cup of tea.”

But now I’m a senior creative writing major. And it’s time.

One of my professors suggested I create a website/blog. So, I tried. And trying was about as far as I got with the process. I couldn’t figure out how to add a navigation bar, drop-down lists, my own pictures, my social media links, or anything. Basically, it was a black and white illegible, unnavigable mess.

I spent two hours looking at YouTube instructional videos, clicking every button possible, and ended up with at least six “About Me” tabs. I was ready to throw my laptop out of my apartment window.

I went to my professor for help, and she suggested I go the Writing Center.

Even though I didn’t say anything, my face said, “For an online blog? What are they going to know? They help people with research papers and cover letters, not blogs.”

“No,” she said. “I mean the Digital Writing Studio.”

Now this sounds helpful!

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5 Albums to Keep You Warm This Fall

By: Corey Halbert

It feels like it’s taken forever, but Fall is finally here. The leaves are changing, the air is getting colder, and pumpkin-flavored drinks are back on the menus. Autumn is a time of change, and a time of reflection, so we’ve gathered five albums to soundtrack it.

The Tallest Man on Earth – The Wild Hunt

Folk – 2010

        Even the album art for this record feels like Fall. The grey clouds, desolate Midwestern landscape, and the grey asphalt in the foreground all remind us of a cool afternoon drive through the countryside. This record by Swedish singer songwriter Kristian Matsson just feels like Fall. The finger picked guitar melodies, the Dylan-esque croon to Matsson’s voice, and the lyrics about change and moving on all make for a perfect fall record.

Best tracks: King of Spain, Love is All, Kids on the Run

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4 Ways to Make an Unpaid Internship Work for You

By: Olivia Power

If you work during the school year or in the summer, you probably think you don’t have the time or money for an unpaid internship. Or, you may think that these types of internships are merely a form of exploitation. If you find yourself nodding your head in agreement at this point, this post is for you.

It’s enough to make an English major despair, isn’t it? What’s the point in working without a tangible reward? Or what if working for free is just not a financial possibility? And why are so many unpaid internships the exact kind that English majors want–positions for writers and editors? Are words really this cheap?

But don’t despair, English majors. Unpaid internships can be tricky, but when you find one that strikes the right balance between good experience and low time-commitment, it can end up being well worth your time.

As I read the description for the position of Communications & Marketing intern at Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Indiana at the end of last semester, my heart began to race. I had been searching for a position exactly like this one for months, one that would suit my interest in nonprofit organizations. But, as their name implies, nonprofits rarely have the luxury of extra cash for paying interns, relying on volunteers and just a few salaried staffers to carry out their mission. When I applied for the internship, I knew I wouldn’t be getting paid, but hoped that I’d gain enough good experience would make up for the spending money I’d be missing out on. I got that and more.

Here are some ways to approach an unpaid internship to make sure you get the most out of your experience, just as I did this past summer.

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Why you should write a novel (and fail) in college

Jalynn is a junior Communication Studies major with an interest in social media, PR, and design. She loves to read YA novels and occasionally writes mediocre fiction – she’s working on the mediocre part.  Want to connect?

by Jalynn Madison

I’ve known I’ve wanted to write since the 5th grade – the same year I fell in love with books. I loved how words on a page could make me feel so many things at once. Sometimes I was sad, surprised, or angry. But no matter what I felt while I was reading, I was always hungry for more by the end. I decided at the age of 10 that I wanted to have a command over words so powerful that I could make people feel the way I always felt when reading a book.

And so began my journey of writing.

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Immerse yourself

by Erin Moreno

Registration for Spring 2018 is almost here, and I want to tell you why you really, really need to sign up for an immersive-learning class.


My sophomore year,  I signed up for a 15-credit hour immersive-learning experience taught by a Religious Studies faculty member. I was an English Education major, and until then, I’d been following the path that my freshman advisor had laid out for me.

In order to get into the class, I had to apply and be accepted, and then meet with the department heads of English, Education, and Sociology (my minor) to figure out how the experience could be applied toward the classes I needed to graduate. A bunch of meetings later, I was heading to the Virginia Ball Center for the Representing Religion in Comics seminar.


That semester was one of the most formative experiences of my collegiate career. I collaborated and learned from 12 other students from different disciplines (Religious Studies, Biology, Creative Writing, Fine Arts, Animation) as well as our faculty advisor who really let us lead the class ourselves. We gained experience and skills in leadership, creative writing, art, and technology (I created and drew my entire comic by teaching myself Adobe Photoshop).

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