Leveraging the people and places of Boston for inspiration, students in the English Department's "Ethics in Documentary Film" course grapple with the challenges and questions raised by creative work.
Kirsten King '14 works as a junior writer at BuzzFeed in Los Angeles. King has turned her love of writing into a fun, promising career at the internet's most popular news media company.
Kirsten King '14 has come a long way since writing, illustrating and selling her own books as a six year old - the Emmanuel graduate recently landed a job as a junior staff writer at the increasingly popular internet news media company BuzzFeed in Los Angeles.
"It's been an incredible experience," King said about her five months at BuzzFeed. "I feel really lucky. I am excited to go into work every day - not everyone can say that. I work with some really incredible people, too. I'm surrounded by published authors, poets and some seriously [amazing] journalists."
Since her days of being a child "author," King said writing has been a natural outlet for her, and it was at Emmanuel College as an English communication + media studies major where she realized writing could be more than just a hobby. Professor of English Mary Beth Pope and Assistant Professor of English Monique-Adelle Callahan gave insight to King on how her love of writing could be turned into a career and be part of her future.
While at Emmanuel, King was an attributing writer at The Hub, volunteered for Habitat for Humanity and held a marketing internship at the Notre Dame Education Center, an adult and youth learning center founded by the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur. When the internship ended, the Center offered King a position, and she worked there until the end of summer 2014 - it was then that she decided to move to Los Angeles to pursue a career in writing.
She applied for an editorial fellowship at BuzzFeed because she was familiar with the company and admired its work culture. On her way to the Golden State, King learned she had landed the fellowship.
"To be honest, when I was applying it kind of felt like a shot in the dark. I didn't have any personal connections to the company, but I put a lot of effort into my application. I created a community member page and built up writing samples through there to try and set myself apart from the other applicants," King said.
King doesn't just credit her application for getting her a job at BuzzFeed, but also acknowledges that her Emmanuel writing classes played into her success.
"The encouragement I received from my professors was great, and they made sure I never felt like writing was a total pipe dream," she said.
When asked if BuzzFeed is as fun of a place to work as it looks, King said yes. Her collaborations with coworkers feel less like a job and more like spending time with friends. The company is filled with unique individuals who each bring something different to the table, according to King.
As a writer for the BuzzTeam, King has a lot of freedom and is not assigned topics to write about. Instead, she writes about what she wants to write about, which could be anything from a TV show to her personal life. When she began the job, she found herself missing home and often wrote about Boston. In just five months, King has had the opportunity to work on everything from interviewing photographers and interpreting emojis to turning herself into a GIF.
Since it launched in 2006, BuzzFeed has changed the digital landscape. King believes the site is so successful because it provides a variety of content (groundbreaking news, personal essays, heart-warming lists, quizzes, videos and more) "that will make your Monday better."
"I think anything that can make a reader feel less alone is important - whether that's talking about anxiety or making their day better by sharing a list of the cutest hedgehogs," she said.
As a recent Emmanuel graduate, King's advice to current students and other recent grads is to learn how to deal with rejection and how not to hold onto it while pursuing a job. After graduation, King admits to having received several rejections, but she didn't let it stop her. Her end goal was always the same: be a writer in some form. She knew she had to keep writing in her life to be completely happy, and she was determined to make it happen.
"It's really easy to take that well-paid marketing job, and there isn't anything wrong with taking it - but there also isn't anything wrong with taking a few risks; even if you fail a few times," she said.
The move from Boston to Los Angeles was a hard adjustment for King. She didn't know anyone and knew the change would be tough, but she has decided to stick it out and learn the city, which she believes has helped with her transition. Her love for BuzzFeed also reaffirms for her that things have fallen into place.
"It's really exciting to watch it grow as a company," said King about BuzzFeed. "It's really refreshing to get to go into work and be completely yourself."