Monica Odom '10
Literary Agent at Liza Dawson Associates
Odom compares her duties with her current position with the kind of work she did as an English major. “I work with a small team and it’s so fun to just bounce ideas around with a bunch of fellow book nerds. You know, it’s really like sitting around in English class.” Looking back on her years as a student at Montclair State, she’s grateful for all she learned from her professors and how all of their unique perspectives inspired her, guiding her toward where she is today. “Sitting in a classroom, discussing great works of literature and challenging myself to write about them, was only half of the joy. The minds of my professors, including Jonathan Greenberg, Patricia Matthew, Larry Schwartz, Grover Furr, Rita Jacobs and Catherine Keohane, truly provoked my own to new heights.”
Odom supplemented her English major with two minors. One is in Journalism and the other is in Film Studies. Along with her major and minor classes, she took courses from a wide variety of departments, including Philosophy and Religion and Women’s and Gender Studies.
“In the film department, Janet Cutler, Arthur Simon and Alex Lykidis changed the way I watch movies but also the way I think about the world. I have so many obscure movie posters on my walls because of them,” she says. “I took Ron Hollander three times, and he gave me my first and only C- on a paper. He taught me some tough lessons, but he also taught me a bunch of random things that I remember to this day because he’s such an amazing storyteller.” Her final semester, Odom took Intro to Feminism with Cynthia Eller. This course profoundly influenced her worldview. “I’m a wiser woman, thanks to her.”
But it wasn’t just all lectures and research papers for Odom. She knew that on-the-job experience is an important part of preparing oneself for life after college and took two internship opportunities.
“During my junior year, I interned at MTV in the Public Affairs department. It was a great experience, because it acclimated me with working in Manhattan and with the business office environment,” she says. The following year, she found another internship. Unlike the previous one, this one paid. “It was at NJ Business Magazine, and I was the editorial assistant working under one managing editor and the editor-in-chief,” she says. “I had my own office and I wrote a ton of articles for the magazine, including a feature cover story. I interviewed tons of business owners and CEOs, and I got to cover some fun topics like meditation and customizable chocolate.”
Today, Odom performs many important duties at Liza Dawson Associates. She manages the company’s finances, its contacts and its social media presence. She also reviews submissions from authors of literary fiction, memoir, women’s fiction, magical realism and speculative fiction, as well as nonfiction books about cooking, politics, history and current affairs. “Basically, we help authors and content creators get their books sold, and then we help manage their careers.”
As an alumna reflecting on her college years, Odom has a lot of wisdom to share with current students. “I’d recommend at least one minor to any incoming freshman.” She stresses that college students should always be listening and observing. “Even if it’s a silly gen-ed class, pick out the pieces that seem interesting to you and ask more about those things. In college, you’re really learning a base knowledge so that you begin to think on a higher plane,” she says. “Show up to class and bring your brain! You may forget everything you were supposed to learn in the class, but if you come in with this attitude your brain will get the worthwhile exercise it deserves.”