Frances Bridges '06
What do you do for work?
I’m a freelance journalist, writer, and blogger. I’m also a sales account executive and editorial contributor for Today’s Chicago Woman Magazine.
You were recently featured on Forbes.com and now have a blog. How did that come about?
I was the subject of a Forbes blog post titled How to Get a Job if You’re a Twentysomething Woman
written by Susannah Breslin. As I was looking up various publications I wanted to write for, I came across Susannah’s name and saw that she has essentially written for all of them. I emailed her. We had a sassy introduction. A couple of weeks later she tweeted she was reading at a theater in Chicago, so I went to see her. We hit it off and she wrote that blog post about me on her Forbes blog, PINK SLIPPED.
I pitched a blog post to the ForbesWoman editor and got my first Forbes blog post. Throughout my job search I always complained that the people doling out career advice hadn’t been in the trenches lately, and couldn’t give us effective advice because the economy is the worst it’s been in their lifetime, and they didn’t know what it was like to be a fresh college graduate or what we should do. I saw this hole in the Forbes blog community, and thought I could write it. So I pitched my blog, THE TRENCHES to that same editor and she liked it, so I got it.
You said (in that article) it's important to know what you want when looking for jobs. What do YOU want?
I want to make a living telling stories. It may not always be through journalism. I may move on to essays, books, or screenwriting at some point because all of those things really interest me, and is a different way to tell stories. I want to be a master storyteller.
How did Westridge prepare you for a career as a writer?
At Westridge I learned I could write well, and it was where I started writing regularly. All of the English teachers I had in high school were excellent, but the two that made the biggest impact were Mr. Schroeter and Mr. Raines. I’ll never forget the first day of Mr. Schroeter’s class, because the first thing he said was, “I have the best job in the world. I get to sit and read amazing pieces of writing all day and talk about them.” He was so profoundly passionate about literature, he made reading and analyzing it so stimulating- it turned my knobs up to 10. Mr. Schroeter made me love English.
Mr. Raines tore me down to build me back up. He makes his students hold hands with their writing and holds them accountable for their words. So many people are up cranking out a paper at 2 a.m. and wash their hands of it when they turn it in. The damn self-assessment and reflection assignments were so tedious and time consuming, but I learned more about my own writing from those assignments and in Mr. Raines’ class than I ever did in college.
I had two majors in college: History and English Literature. I would never have chosen to major in English Literature if it wasn’t for Mr. Schroeter and Mr. Raines.
What do you do for fun?
I travel whenever I can. The world is full of things to be in awe of. I write, I run (I ran the Chicago marathon in October 2011, my first one!), I spend time with my friends and family, read, do crafts, bake, go out to new restaurants and bars in Chicago, practice yoga, and try to cook.
What do you remember most about Westridge?
There are so many things, but Mr. Raines’ English classes I remember the most. I had him for two years. I’ve never had an instructor who made me laugh and made me think so hard in the same space. Life is about sexy ideas and finding the green bagels.
What advice would you give to current students at Westridge?
Don’t be so focused on getting into certain colleges. You’re not doomed if you didn’t get into Stanford, the ivy leagues or the equivalents. Because Westridge is so rigorous academically, an unfortunate byproduct is the “where are you going to college?” competition. I went to Purdue and I loved it. I think everyone should go to Purdue.
To sum it up: take the path less travelled, work hard, find something you love doing and make it your career- people who love what they do make the biggest difference. Oh, and go to Purdue.
Make sure to check out Frances’ Forbes blog, http://blogs.forbes.com/francesbridges/.