Written by Marcella Brylski
If you’re a humanities major, you probably can’t keep track of the number of times people have asked whether you’re going to be a teacher after Hillsdale. And often, it can seem that your options are, in fact, limited—what else can you do to use your hard-earned skills in the humanities besides teach or go to grad school? While these are both great options, I’m here to point you toward humanities students who stepped outside the box. Hillsdale humanities majors have put their skills to work in many creative ways, from selling Turkish rugs to starting a record label to opening up a small farm. I interviewed three of them to see what they’re up to, and (a bonus for us current students) each has a few tips for starting your own job search.
Lydia Hall, English, ’19 | Associate Production Editor at William B. Eerdman’s Publishing Company
Lydia always knew that teaching was not for her. While she considered teaching for a time because she loves literature and the thought of sharing it with young people, she ultimately realized that teaching is not where her skill-set lies. And while graduate school was (and still is) an option, she said, “It was important for me to realize that I can continue to think deeply and discuss literature and write from outside of a school setting,” something that’s possible in editing, where all of her coworkers love books and love thinking about what makes them good.
Lydia discovered her current job through the recommendation of an editor she met during an internship in Washington, D.C. He told her to try informational interviews—a tactic that Lydia highly recommends for students seeking to learn about their career options. If you find yourself interested in a career but short on practical information about it, you can reach out to an employer or someone in a career or position in that career and ask if they would be willing to have a short conversation about their job—what they do, how they got there, etc. Regardless of employment opportunities, informational interviews can do a lot in the way of narrowing down options: they not only offer clarity about your own interest in a career and, in Lydia’s words, “so much valuable insight into a world of which I had so little knowledge,” but they can also eventually help to get you a job. That’s what happened for Lydia when she visited Eerdman’s in January of her senior year. After running into much of the staff at a work lunch during her visit, she was encouraged to apply, invited back for an interview, and ultimately hired first as an intern and eventually as an employee.
The company that Lydia works for, Eerdman’s Publishing, publishes Christian literature ranging from theology and philosophy to biblical commentaries to children’s books. As an associate production editor, Lydia designs the text, headings, chapter titles, and tables inside books—basically “everything besides the covers.” The job is editorial because those design elements play a role in the readability of the final product. As she told me, “It’s my job to make the words as readable as possible and to point out any inconsistencies that may unnecessarily complicate things.”
For Lydia, who gained experience and confidence through her involvement on-campus as an editor with The Forum, one of Hillsdale’s student-run, on-campus publications, typesetting allows her to do some of the things she loves. “I love designing books. I love choosing fonts and seeing my design in print. I love bringing more Garamond into the world.” She would also love, however, to someday bring the critical skills that she learned as an English major at Hillsdale to bear on her position as an editor.
So while she is, for now, content with the aesthetic satisfaction of typesetting, her goal is to get into more literary publishing, where she ultimately hopes to channel the editorial verve of Ezra Pound, who famously edited T.S. Eliot’s “The Waste Land” and helped to make it the masterpiece that it is today.
Marcella Brylski, ’20, grew up in the great state of Minnesota, where she learned to love sunny fall days and distance running along the Mississippi River. She studies English and Greek at Hillsdale and takes great joy in unexpected conversations with friends, discovering contemporary poets, and unearthing treasures at the local thrift store.
Published in July 2020