How I Landed My First Writing Gig

Written By: Smita Kale

“Would you be interested in joining as an Admissions Editor in our company? It’s a work-from-home job.”

The second part of the conversation caught my fancy immediately and without thinking I agreed. When I went to the office for a written test and interview, I realised that probably I had bitten off more than I could chew. How on earth will I be able to write ‘creatively’? A science and math teacher by profession, with a teaching career of 14 years, my mind was attuned to writing only factual information and that too in bullets! Here, I was expected to help students write admissions essays for MBA, MS, SAT or PhD courses and polish their work by editing and restructuring their essays.

The written test had two questions: first question asked me to write about how the ‘butterfly effect’ in Africa affected the economy of some random country. I wrote about actual butterflies!!!

The next question was to write 300 words on my favorite leader. Feeling like a particularly dense student, I found myself literally chewing on the pencil end, desperately seeking for some inspiration. Bang! I remembered my school Principal where I had taught previously. She was a slave driver but I learnt how to be a good teacher, from her, and I could now think of no other better example. I waxed eloquent about her, exceeding the word limit.On my way home, I was regretting my choice since I thought that they would not be able to relate with the person in the essay. Probably I should have stuck to the tried and tested Mahatma Gandhi and Nehru………

 So, nobody was more surprised than me when I received an offer to join as an Admissions Editor. I received a second jolt when I visited the Head Office and met the team. None of the people in that room was above 27 years of age and I, at the age of 43, felt like a senior citizen. I quickly did mental calculation and concluded that I will not last beyond a month, at the most. However, one of my core strength is, not to give up before it is time. My contract was for 5 months. I decided to give it my best shot and then decide whether to quit or not.

I became an ardent student and an avid learner and for me, my Team Lead who was just a few years elder than my first-born, became my Guru. Some of the sample writings scared me out of my wits. My first thought was that the writer had swallowed a dictionary and must be extraordinarily gifted. But I was fortunate to get excellent Team Lead.I absorbed every single criticism consciously that came my way and worked diligently on improving my style of writing. While crafting essays for MBA, MS or SAT students, I tried to be creative. Gradually, I developed my own style of writing which was simple, effective and unpretentious. My confidence gained momentum with every student who got admission in his chosen college.
I polished my skills by reading on relevant articles. I started reading ‘Ascent’, ToI’s weekly edition on HR issues, interviews and openings in prominent companies. This helped me understand what skills the industry valued and the current trend of hiring resources. Researching on a variety of industrial and career options widened the horizon of my knowledge of the latest happenings in the world. I realized that writing from the heart, struck a chord more than writing with lot of fancy words. Within 3 years, I was the Team Lead and was actually quality checking work of 4 team members.

I proved to be a big hit with my SAT students whom I helped in writing their essays. The parents invariably were very thankful to me for being after their child’s life to submit the essays in time for my review! I could establish a good connection with them and I struck a right balance between being professional, friendly and firm, while guiding them to do the needful.

Writing has opened new vistas for me. My life has become richer several times over and has helped me remain connected with the younger generation. I have learnt how to survive working in corporate sector, and developed several of the skills that I usually mention and focus on, in my admissions essays of an MBA aspirant!

About the writer: Smita Kale

I like to describe myself as a teacher, writer, editor, speaker, housewife and conscientious citizen. My primary interest has always been to teach. Writing, developing content for school curricula, editing etc.are other skills which I have developed over the last few years.

I am an experienced tarot reader too and reading cards is my passion. Someday, I hope to learn to play the piano and paint on canvas.

My greatest desire is to be reborn as a gifted artist. My favorite quote is:Everything that can be counted does not necessarily count; everything that counts cannot necessarily be counted.’Albert Einstein


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