What are you doing now?
I am a Senior Vice President and Group Publisher for Zondervan, which is part of HarperCollins Global Publishing. I oversee the acquisitions, marketing, and publicity for Zondervan and Zonderkidz titles. We publish books, gift books, videos, Bibles, curriculum and digital products including audiobooks, ebooks, digital books, and apps.
How did your Hope English education shape you?
I was set to become a stockbroker or an accountant while pursuing my Business Administration degree. When I became a senior, my advisor informed me that I only needed four more credits to earn an English major, so he helped me locate an internship with a magazine publishing group near Hope’s campus. Through this experience, I realized my business focus along with my love for writing, editing, and being creative could be blended together in the world of publishing. If I had not been guided toward that internship, I may have had a long path of figuring out my career in light of the two loves: managing money and managing the books, actual books—not just accounting books!
What advice would you give to English majors today?
Absolutely do what you love and find ways to express that through your work. I loved books, so as a sophomore and junior, I worked at an ABA independent bookstore in Holland. I loved to write, so as a senior I wrote movie reviews, author bios, and short articles for newspapers and magazines. The internship I held at the magazine group allowed me to try many different areas of publishing (writing, design, finance, author relations, marketing, publicity, project management, etc.) and this allowed me to identify what tasks and responsibilities generated energy within me rather than zapping my energy and leaving me depleted.
Just a few weeks after I graduated from Hope, I asked the Career Placement office if I could hold informational interviews with Hope alums who had “edit” or “publish” in their titles. I landed fourteen phone interviews and from those calls, and I was able to schedule five entry-level job interviews in New York City. One alum who worked at Reader’s Digest recommended me for a job. I interviewed, I got my first job after college, and to this day I’ve never even met her in person. There are many Hope alums around the world who have a strong interest in helping others in any vocation. Be sure to tap into that network, even if it’s just to ask a few questions…including: “do you know of any entry-level job openings at your current employer?”
If you could teach any English class, what would be the title?
How to Have Fun Every Day at Work – OR – Just Because You Are an English Major Doesn’t Mean You Have to Be a Teacher—OR—English Majors Can Do Anything
Can you share a favorite book read recently or in college?
In college: Personal History by Katherine Graham – really well written and inspiring for women who want to change the world.
Recently: Solo by Kwame Alexander because I published it, and I want everyone to read it even if it is YA fiction.