English Major’s Path to Publishing Includes Educational Aide Work, Freelance Writing
Kaylene Slayton’s dream is to work in the publishing industry. She’s now on her way to realizing it thanks to her work as an educational aide at Bucyrus Secondary School, and freelance writing, both of which were made possible thanks to her University of Findlay education.
Slayton graduated in 2014 with a Bachelor of Arts in English, with an emphasis in general writing. She characterizes her current work as “unintentional” opportunities that still allow her to put her degree to good use while helping students.
“As an educational aide, I work as the Virtual Learning Academy monitor for students taking elective courses online,” she explained. In this role, she helps students with research papers, essays, scholarship applications and college applications. Her freelance work includes paid blogging for thetalko.com and obsev.com, along with academic writing for Ultius.
Slayton’s classroom and practical experience at UF provided her with a solid foundation for career building, she maintained. Her first blogging job, at Rant Media Network, was acquired in part because of her on-campus internship with the University’s literary magazine “Fro the Writer’s Kitchen,” and due to her contributions in helping launch UF’s first national literary magazine “Slippery Elm”
“’Slippery Elm’ was offered as an upper level English class that gave me much needed experience that students at other universities probably don’t get,” Slayton noted. “As a whole, being an English major shaped me into being a well-rounded writer. Taking all of those English courses and writing all of those research papers and essays turned me into the writer I am today.”
Certain faculty members were also invaluable, she said, particularly Sarah Fedirka, Ph.D., assistant professor of English, and Louis Stulman, Ph.D., professor of religion. “I never took one of his (Stulman’s) classes,” Slayton said, “but I worked with him as a research assistant my senior year at UF in the Religion Department. He needed someone to edit his manuscripts, and since that was something I had a lot of interest in, I got the job. He guided me a lot while I worked with him, explaining the publishing process to me and making suggestions of how I could launch myself into that career path.”
The Bucyrus native said she chose to attend UF for several reasons. “I didn’t look at that many other schools when I was a senior in high school, and I only visited one other university. However, when I visited UF, I instantly fell in love with it and knew it was the right fit for me,” she explained. “I liked the enrollment size, the size of the campus, and the small community feel of the campus. I also liked the city of Findlay and the fact that it wasn’t far from home.”
Slayton views her work at the academy as gratifying because she is passing along her knowledge to a younger set. “I help students a lot with writing papers, and I apply what I learned in college to help them become better writers now,” she said. “I teach them things I didn’t learn until college so that hopefully they will be prepared when they enter college.” Additionally, she assists students with tasks outside of her purview, which she also enjoys, she noted. “Students come to me for help and advice on topics that don’t fall under my job description, but my job gives me the time, the flexibility and the opportunity to help those students with those tasks.”
The variety of what she learned is helping her with her freelance work too. “I also learned how to write in different styles in college, and I use that in my various writing jobs now because each company, and sometimes each blog, requires different style and voice,” she added.
Freelancing, she said, gives her the freedom to work when and where she wants, and to be selective with projects. “If I don’t want to work on the weekends, I don’t have to. I can work from the comfort of my home or… from anywhere in the world. And I can choose how much I want to earn. I love that I’m getting paid to do something I truly love and something that comes natural to me,” she said.
Slayton’s advice to high school students trying to decide on a college is “follow your gut,” which is what she did, and to research work offerings that different areas of study and schools have available. Choosing UF “felt right, and it paid off. But also look into what types of opportunities the university offers, especially with internships and job experience. Companies expect you to have experience when you graduate now. I’d recommend talking to someone at the Center for Career and Professional Development and faculty advisors about potential experiential learning opportunities in your field of choice,” she concluded.