Job Unicorns Are Real

Editing graduate Alison Kranz lands an unexpected dream position

How does an art curator and events assistant end up in a writing and editing career in financial services? Well, for Alison Kranz, it was by way of two internships in Sacramento.

After graduating from UC Berkeley with a degree in art history, Alison started working as an administrative assistant at a foster care agency. She also did some side gigs to keep her pulse on the Bay Area arts scene. One year later, Alison moved back to her hometown of Sacramento, where she got an internship at the local arts commission to work on the organization’s social media and other communications.

“While working there, a second internship opened at a local events website, which was a joint partnership between the arts commission and the city’s Convention and Visitors Bureau,” Alison recalls. “I worked both internships for a while but was able to grow my second one into a part-time—and, eventually, full-time—job.”

That internship-turned-employment saw Alison writing and editing blog content, event descriptions and artist biographies. It also saw her career prospects light up.

“I didn't set out to be an editor, but editing is always something I've enjoyed,” she says. “I didn't think about it as a career until I started working at the events website, where I realized that copyediting was my favorite part of the job.”

Climbing the Career Ladder

Three years into working on the events website, Alison began to look for other career-growing opportunities.

“The website was a small operation, and the only way I could move up was if my boss were to leave, which I didn't want to happen and didn't want to wait for,” admits Alison. “I still liked it there, so I wasn't in a rush to leave, but I started passively looking for new opportunities. I updated my résumé and put it on a few job board sites. A recruiter contacted me for a role at a financial services company. I had absolutely zero finance background, but the role was in marketing.”

That didn’t stop her from taking the position. Alison began working as a project manager to produce marketing materials such as fund commentary and topic papers:

  • shepherding collateral through reviews

  • formatting charts

  • laying out the papers

  • publishing

But she couldn’t not edit the work that she saw.

“I started to edit and proofread everything, too, because I can never help myself,” Alison admits. “If I read something, I edit it! Through this role, I got a crash course in the finance industry. Coming from an art, editing and writing background, I was often intimidated by my lack of industry knowledge, but I asked a lot of questions and learned a ton that way.”

That drive to be successful in her field also led her to seek a professional editing program.

Gain Skills, Confidence

Alison completed the Professional Sequence in Editing while she was still in her financial services marketing role. “I had been editing for a while at that point, but I still felt a bit of imposter syndrome because I didn't have any sort of formal training. I'd heard of UC Berkeley Extension's program a while back and decided to give it a go.

“I love, love, loved all the courses!” Alison continues. “I looked forward to doing my reading and assignments, which doesn't happen often. I wanted to gain more knowledge and confidence to do my job effectively, and I got that through the program.”

Even though the program is online, Alison still got to “nerd out” in her courses.

“Before starting, I figured I would feel pretty isolated, but I was wrong,” she says. “The forums were lively, and I got to nerd out with fellow editing geeks about all sorts of topics. I also found that I preferred the online discussion boards. As a somewhat shy, introvert-leaning person, I had the chance to think through and compose my thoughts and not be put on the spot. I found myself actively engaging with my classmates in a format that worked well for me.”

It was also the commitment to keep building her editing skills that led Alison to her next role, one in internal communications: managing the company’s intranet, internal social network and other employee initiatives.

“I read the job posting and it was like my dream come true,” Alison enthuses. “I felt like it was a ‘unicorn’ position because it would let me edit and write—which I also love—as my main duties, but I wouldn't be writing about technical financial topics. I applied and got the job.”

What does she believe gave her an advantage? “I had completed the editing certificate at this point, and I definitely think it gave me a leg up.”

And how does her Editing program experience carry over to her day-to-day work?

“Having the Editing program under my belt helps me every day,” she says. “Although I write a lot for our intranet about company news and the people who work here, I also get to edit plenty of material from other people. I wear my editor's hat often.

“It's a lot of fun and I love it!” Alison enthuses.

“Knowing the basics of editing and the tools I need to succeed, and then getting to apply that daily, is huge. I get excited when I have to look up something in my Chicago Manual of Style and love developing house style guides. This past March, I got to attend The American Copy Editors Society’s (ACES) annual editing conference and it was a copyeditor's dream come true!

“I never would've imagined I'd be living the dream at a financial services firm, but here I am.”

That enthusiasm for editing—and for the Professional Sequence in Editing—makes for a glowing recommendation. “Do it! It's a great program to brush up on your grammar and editing skills, even if you don't see yourself as a full-time editor. Writing and editing are skills applicable to almost any position, so it never hurts to improve them. If you have a full-time job, take one class at a time so you don't feel overwhelmed and can concentrate on the class's topic in depth.”

Looking to the Future

Alison isn’t stopping here; she’s also completing our Specialized Program in Professional Writing.

“I got so much from the Editing program, and now that I write regularly for my career I knew this one would be good to do, too,” Alison explains. “Especially since, similar to my impetus for starting the editing program, I don't have any sort of formal writing training.”

And we’re sure that Alison will apply lessons learned from these classes to her work—now or in the future.