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• Monica Odom article by Alumni Relations
By Alexandra Foroglou*
Monica Odom ’10 is living an English major's dream. She spends her days poring over manuscripts, travelling to conferences to meet authors, and scouring hidden corners of the Internet to find talent.
She completed a Master's degree in publishing at New York University and now works as an agent for Bradford Literary Agency. This year, she returned to Montclair State to share career advice with English majors as a speaker on a panel.
The secret sauce for success
Odom embodies the spirit of a scholarly achiever. She made the most of the opportunities at Montclair State University. She stayed optimistic in the face of challenges and focused on the future. She invested time in internships and developed connections with mentors that jumpstarted her career.
Why Montclair State?
Odom grew up in Toms River, New Jersey. When she graduated from high school, she knew she wanted to live close to New York City and selected Montclair State for its reputation and ideal location.
English: Not her first calling but…
After starting at Montclair State as a Broadcasting major, Odom quickly realized that the subject was not a perfect fit for her. She listened to the advice of an advisor and briefly switched her major to "undeclared." She used the time to dip her toes in a variety of subjects through her general education courses – requirements that she needed to complete for her degree anyway. This detour let her zero in on her passion: English. She quickly began navigating a career path too.
Network, network, network
For any student trying to get their "foot in the door" in any career, Odom suggests they make important connections with their professors and classmates. Not only will this benefit future endeavors, but it will also help a student stand out from the crowd. Internships, graduate programs, and job applications require references and letters of recommendation. So it’s important for students to listen and pay attention in class. Individuals may need to ask for faculty support even after final grades have been turned in.
Building connections in the English department has served her well. Odom fondly recalls the many professors who helped her on her path to her success: Janet Cutler, Jonathan Greenberg, Ron Hollander, Larry Schwartz, Art Simon, and more.
Her focus on academics helped her secure a significant scholarship and multiple awards.
Separately, professor Ron Hollander, knew of her career aspirations and helped her lineup an informational interview with a connection in publishing.
Hollander also gave her a tip that led to her first role with a literary agency. He forwarded a Mediabistro link for an internship with Joelle Delbourgo Associates. At the time, Odom didn’t even know that niche job site existed.
“It feels very serendipitous. That’s why you have to put yourself out there, otherwise you can’t be touched by serendipity,” she said in a phone interview.
Start career exploration early and take advantage of internships
The job market in publishing and many other fields is tight so Odom recommends starting career preparation early. Internships are extremely important and a wonderful learning experience, she said. Odom herself completed two during college, with MTV Networks and NJ Business Magazine. Theses experiences will give students an opportunity to enhance skills, build connections, and establish a professional appearance.
She said it’s important to remember that professors and advisors are there to assist students. They can share valuable advice on achieving goals: Don’t be afraid to ask for help!
-- Published May 2016
* Alexandra Foroglou ‘16 is an English major who will pursue a Master’s degree at Goldsmiths University in London in the fall