Lauren Mann (’14), Brian Gallagher (’10), and Ben Hatke (’00) were the featured speakers at Christendom’s popular networking series, “Life on Tap,” held in St. Kilian’s Café on February 9. Over one hundred students, faculty, and staff attended to listen to these three highly successful alumni share their advice on success in the competitive fields of editing, publishing, and writing.
Mann, an English language and literature major and valedictorian of the class of 2014, works as Assistant Managing Editor for Regency Publishing, the only conservative publishing house in Washington D.C. She kicked off the evening by describing the many detail-oriented aspects of her job and emphasizing the importance of solid communication skills, which her Christendom education helped her to achieve.
Mann believes that the critical reading and thinking skills which she developed at Christendom are of great practical use to her, for she had been disciplined to read between-the-lines in more ways than one.
She concluded with three recommendations.
“First, if you’re interested in editing, look around. Copy editors are needed in many places—university presses, law firms—not just book publishing companies. Second, experience with the Rambler or writing center on campus is a huge plus, and you’ll have the skills you need under your belt. Third, you’ll laugh, but buy Copy-Editing and Proofreading for Dummies, which contains the many technical aspects of writing.”
Brian Gallagher, who graduated from Christendom in 2010 and then earned his master’s in accounting from Virginia Tech, works for TAN Books and Saint Benedict Press, a Catholic publishing company which has been in his family for four generations. He holds the position of Director of Business Intelligence, while at the same time is working toward his master’s in data analytics.
Gallagher encouraged any aspiring self-writers to gain exposure through self-publishing and to change society by getting their ideas out there. He stressed the importance of making use of the invaluable knowledge obtained from a liberal arts education by having a plan.
“Christendom College is an amazing stepping-stone,” said Gallagher. “You’ll be able to have the skills to do anything you want when you graduate from here. It’s not lip service, it’s not a sales pitch; it’s true, so long as you have the drive and plan ahead. It’s too easy to be content in college. You must continuously ask yourself: ‘what’s the next plan?’ You must restore all things in Christ. You can do it at any point, you just have to try.”
He concluded by encouraging the audience to ask themselves a very important question: what do you want to be when you grow up?
Ben Hatke, #1 New York Times bestselling author and class of 2000 history major, has landed some great contracts writing stories and illustrating pictures to connect to those stories.
“I’m proud to be able to tell my own stories. It’s been like a dream come true, but to get to this point has been a long road,” Hatke pointed out.
At one point, Hatke spoke of his appreciation for the nature of the history courses taught at Christendom. He was drawn to them, especially to Dr. Carroll’s history books, because of their narrative aspects.
During his time on campus, there was so much he wanted to do with his life, but he maintained a constant in story-telling and entertainment. For him, it was a crash-course in getting feedback.
“However, now publishing has changed,” Hatke said, “and there is a great advantage in putting your work out on the internet, because talent is immediately accessible to publishers online.”
He suggested building a portfolio from the start. “If you’re going to be a doctor, you go to medical school. For art, whether you do it through art school or not, it’s all about the portfolio.”
Like Mann, Hatke emphasized that communication is key, even in illustration. When he started his web comic-turned NY Times Bestseller, “Zita the Spacegirl,” tiny publishing companies began to contact him, and eventually, large publishing companies. He is now working on his seventh book.
As a final point, Hatke reiterated the necessity of hard work. “People get into the field to begin with because of their taste. Do a lot of work and put yourself on a deadline to close the gap so that your work is as good as your ambitions.”
The “Life on Tap” series is a bi-monthly event organized by the college’s career and leadership development office, featuring noted alumni and friends speaking on topics such as journalism, web development, and non-profit business. To find out more, or see videos from past “Life on Tap” events, please visit here.