First, please tell me a little bit about your company and your job.
I work for SEO Twist, a digital marketing agency that provides SEO (search engine optimization) services. I'm a content writer, which means I help write web content (including website content, blogs, and some social media) for a variety of our clients. I've become the de facto copy editor, though, which is fine by me because I'm a nerd that really enjoys editing.
Overall, did you find the Professional Writing program worthwhile?
Absolutely! I was a direct entry student, which means I started in the second year, and I specifically chose the program because of the work experience/internship component. The fact that I learned a ton about freelancing, building a career, and making a living as a writer was definitely welcome, too.
How difficult was it for you to find a job in writing?
On the one hand, it felt extremely difficult, but on the other, I had a job about two months after I completed the program. It's difficult in the moment, but much easier to handle when you step back and take some perspective. I had a few freelance jobs between graduating and starting my job, which helped.
How has the course impacted your career and writing style?
I came into this program with about a year and a half of experience as a community reporter for a small newspaper in the Ottawa valley, and now I'm working for a really fun and exciting digital marketing agency. That's pretty big, career-wise—at least, it feels that way for me.
In terms of writing style, I've become far more aware of word choice, word count, and space. Getting to the point can be tricky when you've only got 200 words, so you have to make them count—but I like that sort of challenge.
What skills did you learn in the course?
Punctuality, communication, and adaptability. Get the work done on time, stay in touch with the people you need to keep as contacts, and be prepared to adapt to the demands of each job.
Do you do any writing outside of work?
Yes, but it's a habit I need to grow and feed and nurture. I always have ideas running in my head, but it can be tough finding time to get them down.
What struggles, if any, did you have in finding success in your writing career? What obstacles or criticism did you have to overcome?
Staying positive. It's tough applying to things and hearing nothing. It's tough feeling stuck, and I felt stuck for a while before I started the program. Thankfully, I'm figuring it all out now.
How should graduates of the program go about actually getting a job?
Make contacts, try and get some work from them, then keep doing a good job. And get applications out there, use your networks... that sort of thing.
Alternatively, you can do what I did when I became a reporter: fall backwards into it after a year of unemployment after graduating from university. That's a huge story in and of itself—in summary, just do, experience stuff, then write about it. Write for people, volunteer, meet other writers, make a name, make a portfolio, and get out there and put the applications out. You've got to hustle a bit, but keep at it and you'll find something.
Do you have any advice to offer young writers? If you had the opportunity to go back and talk to yourself while you were in the program, what would you say?
I'd say just stick with it, you're doing the right things. Pay attention, because your profs certainly do, and they want you to succeed.
I'd also tell myself to get out there more often and go on the adventures that are worth writing about. You can never have too many adventures.
Ben Filipkowski's Linked In account.
William Cousins is a Professional Writing student at Algonquin College, living in Ottawa, Ontario. Writing is his passion. He believes in the power of the written word, and aspires to perfect his craft in order to create great works of art. From movies, to song lyrics, to video games, he is locked in a constant quest for the perfect story.