An unusual path to an unexpected career
by Matt Balascak
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Philippa Stasiuk never thought that she would be in marketing.
After graduating from Knox College in Illinois with degrees in sociology and anthropology, she pursued her master’s in international policy studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies in California. Stasiuk’s diverse educational background eventually found her working in competitive intelligence for a pharmaceutical company.
After working for several years in a research capacity, she made the decision to pursue her true passion for writing. This drastic shift set Stasiuk on a path she never could have predicted.
Stasiuk began taking writing jobs, working for a weekly newspaper in New York before moving to Denmark. There, she found positions writing for the Danish government as well as creating copy for an advertising agency. In these positions, she began to hone her own writing and editing skills under talented editors.
After Stasiuk moved back to the United States, she took jobs writing and developing marketing content. This path took her to both Assurity Life Insurance Co. and her current position as a content developer at Resort Lifestyle Communities, a chain of senior living facilities.
One of the biggest changes in this new career? Instead of working under an editor, her new marketing jobs required her to both write and edit her own content.
This system presents an array of challenges and opportunities. While the independence offers greater creative freedom, self-editing initially proved to be a barrier. “The key to good editing is time—you have to distance yourself from what you wrote the first time,” Stasiuk says. “You have to put it away and not work in order to have fresh eyes. That’s one of my biggest learnings, you have to actually have time off to be good at your job.”
Among her other suggestions for self-editing, Stasiuk recommends having a second set of eyes look at whatever has just been written. When she first began to write and edit her own content, she would always have her husband read over her writing before she submitted it. This helped to her to identify areas for improvement she never would have considered. With practice, it becomes easier to develop a consistent voice and find your own errors.
As the boundaries between journalism, advertising, public relations and marketing become blurred, the importance of strong writing and editing skills is only going to grow. Regardless of where you write or edit, Stasiuk says she has noticed one thing:
“Everything is trending toward shorter. You’re not going to fight that; there’s no way you can win. You have to simply be as clean as possible in your editing and keep stuff as short as possible.”
Concise writing has helped her to transition her writing from career to career. Because she took the opportunity to learn from her editors, she was able to use their knowledge to improve her own skills.
For young writers who might someday edit their own work, she has one piece of advice. “Write well, write simply, write with elegance,” Stasiuk says.
Strong writing and editing skills have taken Stasiuk across the globe, and she continues to use them in a wide variety of jobs. Her experience proves that knowledge and talent along with a desire to keep learning can open doors in unexpected places.