The University of Montana – English: Creative Writing and Literature
It’s not uncommon to hear that a writer’s unhappy or unfulfilled in their day job; even when they’re technically writing. It starts out innocently enough: thinking they’re making a career out of their passion, only to find themselves disillusioned and chin-deep in spec sheets, blog posts, or marketing copy that they just don’t care much about.
Not so for Samantha Steven. As a copywriter at Plaor, a gaming startup company, Samantha’s voice isn’t stifled, nor is her imagination diluted. Instead, she can unleash her full sense of humor, knowing it makes her even better at her job. And frankly, we’re digging her straight–shooting “take no shit” advice here.
Do no harm, but take no shit.
How did you discover your current job?
My employers found me on LinkedIn and called me in for an interview. It’s not as gloriously simple as it sounds, as I was paying to be seen first among search results for “writer,” “editor,” “copywriter,” etc. on LinkedIn. I had a LinkedIn Premium Account, which I would recommend highly over applying to LinkedIn, MediaBistro and JournalismJobs, where you’re one candidate out of hundreds.
What responsibilities do you have in your role?
I write and edit dynamic, irreverent, absurd, and funny questions for an interactive question game, soon to be released. In addition, I write poker strategy articles and celebrity spotlights for an established game, initially called Hollywood Poker but now expanded to Mega Fame Casino.
What is it about your job that makes you feel it’s the right fit for you?
An imagination and unique voice can be diluted or just not utilized in many writing jobs. Usually, I can only unleash my sense of humor in personal writing projects or stand-up, so it’s fortunate and fun that it’s of value to our games.
What challenges keep you awake at night?
Challenges I’ve faced always come down to lack of communication, being too agreeable or being too inflexible. For instance, people emphasize the power of “yes,” but I think it’s just as important to be able to say “no.” You need to know your limit, your worth, your time, and your expectations versus reality.
If you feel like you can’t get something done in one day, don’t pretend you can. If you’re sick, stay home; you’re not proving anything by working with a coughing fit. Also, don’t allow challenges to keep you awake at night. Talk about challenges honestly and don’t be so quick to become defensive (and disagree) nor act overly pliable (and readily agree).
Is work/life balance ever a problem with you? If so, what is one no-fail tactic you use to create balance?
Not right now, but when and if it were to become one, I would just up the number of times I do Bikram Yoga per day/week. Just 90 minutes in that hot room and I emerge blithely confident and calm, all the benefits of a lobotomy, alcohol and an energy drink, but none of the harm. It shuts up self-criticism; it helps me sleep; it makes me give everyone the benefit the doubt; it energizes me. I’m addicted to it for how it helps my mind, and then the benefits to my body are awesome byproducts.
Was there ever a moment in your career where you’ve thought, “I made it!” What was it?
Not yet. When College Prowler published a college guidebook I wrote, I did think, “I almost made it!” Goal reached.
If anything, every time I make it, there’s always another step on the goal ladder. It’s human nature—the “on to the next” mentality. I bet even Vince Gilligan (creator of Breaking Bad) doesn’t think he’s made it, even though everyone else knows he has.
What are some of the rules you live by?
I used to think that downplaying myself and making self-deprecating jokes would make me more likable and put people at ease, but now I think that it’s a balance of breezy confidence and humble realism. Own who you are: strengths and weaknesses. Take responsibility for your mistakes, but remember your worth. Do no harm, but take no shit.
What qualities does it take for someone to be successful in your line of work?
You need persistence, tactful honesty, blind optimism, humble realism, a willingness to give (and receive) criticism, a sense of humor, a good-natured disposition, and genuine kindness.
What one piece of advice do you wish you could tell a 21-year-old version of yourself?
When I was 21, I ate up a lot of networking tips. But I came to find that networking can be forced, fake, and futile. I felt like I came off as annoying or insincere and it became difficult for me to do because I felt unlikeable. Then after watching All About Eve, I never wanted to be seen as a conniving upstart who only made relationships about trades and getting ahead. I’m not that person and I did not want to be mistaken for that type of person. So my advice for my 21-year-old self would be to not get caught up in networking; it can turn human relationships into contracts and trade. Be genuine, listen and learn, but don’t ruin a perfectly good conversation with a networking-driven “help me get a job” statement.
Do you agree with the statement: I am my job?
I think it’s important to disagree with this statement. When I was unemployed, I felt like I didn’t have an identity. I felt ashamed, guilty, and downtrodden to be at that point when I had worked so hard to gain solid work experience. But I was the same person and had the same skills, talents, and valuable qualities. Just because I didn’t have the affirmation of a job to define me did not mean I wasn’t valuable. It’s important to remember that when you’re unemployed.
1) Never give up.
2) Baby steps.
3) Lighten up.