What were you involved in on campus (Greek life, RSOs, academic work with a professor,
Pretty involved! I was a tutor at the Writing Center from the second half of my freshman
year until I graduated, and a Spanish language tutor and Political Science Research
Assistant for the latter two years. I played on the tennis team sophomore through
senior years. I was also a member of the Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance for
sophomore through senior years, and president for the first two years.
How have you used your liberal arts education in your career? What specific skills
have been valuable to you?
I think that my writing-focused coursework (no matter the subject) and my work as
a writing tutor is probably the most directly helpful in my career, but learning how
to do good research, and how to understand and use language, all of that's helpful
Your major isn’t necessarily typical of someone in your career field, how has your
major benefited you in your career?
I have to say, my majors don't really affect my career in any specific way that I'm
aware of. My career came more out of something I've always been interested in, which
is writing. I loved the majors I chose, and I'm sure I would be happy had I ended
up working with them more directly, but I don't think they're necessarily as important
as the skill sets I got just from going to such a good school and working hard in
What experiences did you draw from to create your book Never Have I Ever?
Just my real life! I mean, it's a memoir, so I was just retelling everything as best
I could remember it. Several of the friends I made at Wesleyan are my best friends
to this day, and play a prominent role in the book, and they helped me both directly
(like by remembering little details in certain stories) and indirectly (by being my
friends, making memories with me, influencing the way I write) too.
How did this idea come about?
I was contacted by a literary agent after publishing a few things online, and they
were really conversational and kind of about both friendship and dating, and I knew
that I was in the somewhat unique position of being the age I was then without having
really done much/any dating. And I thought I could make that funny.
What was the process like to get your book published?
Much easier than I had any right for it to be. Like I said, I was contacted by my
agent, who is wonderful, and I wrote the book during my second year of graduate school
(I was getting my master's degree in public policy), and sold it shortly after I graduated
to a really wonderful editor and publisher. It was so unexpected and exciting.
Do you have any advice for students aspiring to write a book and then publish it?
Yes—get online. I sort of think you have to have (or, well, you don't HAVE to have,
but it certainly helps and I don't know how people sell books without it) Twitter,
and maybe a Tumblr, and you have to get some smaller things published on websites
if you can. Name recognition is huge, and though I didn't have much of it when I sold
my book, even the little audience I had built by then really helped make a case for
me and my book.
You have different types of work that you’re doing (BuzzFeed, author, blogger, etc.);
can you talk about the realities of balancing those different types of work? What
steps did you take in order to get where you are in your career?
I've at various points balanced book writing with internet writing, though right now
I'm pretty much just focused on my full-time job at BuzzFeed. I would like to write
another book, but it's definitely hard to write all day every day and then want to
go home and write more. It's tough. I sometimes feel like I have to use my vacations
for that. But I know it's possible to write a book when you're largely focused on
something else, because I did it in grad school.
What would you suggest students get involved in now in order to be successful later
in a similar career as yours?
The Writing Center is great I think, whether you're a tutor there or just making use
of the fact that it's there to help you. I am going to be honest: I read a lot of
bad papers when I was there. And Wesleyan is such a great school! But I don't think
students are taught how to write early on enough, or well enough, and it's possible
to get through school without ever getting good at it. But the tutors are there to
help, and you can learn a lot from them. Learning to write and communicate is essential
for a job like mine.
Can you talk about your typical day at work?
I get to work a little before 10, and usually spend the first hour or so of the day
kind of looking around the internet for post ideas or talking them over with coworkers.
We bounce a lot of ideas off each other, and we're organized into little groups, so
I spend a lot of time talking to my group about how to make our post ideas better
and stronger. I typically publish about one post a day, unless I'm working on something
longer, or just stuck. We all have days where we just can't find ANYTHING. It's part
of the reality of working in a creative field I think.
What is the best and worst thing about your career?
The best part is getting paid to do something I love, which is writing and trying
to make people laugh with writing. It's hard sometimes, and I think it's a job that
can burn you out easily, but finding new ways to do it and be weird and creative makes
it continually interesting and fun. And BuzzFeed is a really fun office to be in.