Evolution of a content strategist

Fifth grade: For the first time, I answer “writer” when asked what I want to be when I grow up. My best narratives include hot dogs.

High school sophomore: I sign my parents up for AOL and get my first email address.

High school junior: I am a JERE (Junior English Review Exercises) master, which is a good thing, because my teacher rarely grades a paper above a B+.

High school senior: I read Hamlet. I score a 5 on the AP English exam. I woo sit next to boys in the library while using Netscape.

College freshman: I join the daily newspaper and the school’s telnet.

College sophomore: I take Computing on the Internet and build my first webpage via the my free student access. My content is 95% devoted to my time on the Florida Panthers rat patrol.

College junior: My Writer’s London instructor is appalled to hear that I’m a psych major. I switch to English when I return from abroad.

First job: I push content from a weekly newspaper to its website. I surf the Web, start a blog, and join Friendster. I master the peculiarities of a new CMS. I publish my first story and email the online version to my parents.

Second job: I help build websites to accompany long-form news documentaries, learn volumes about storytelling and current events while embracing impeccable standards, and contribute promotional ideas that stick. I know the AP stylebook cover to cover, but I remain loyal to the Oxford comma in my personal life.

Third job: I provide editorial oversight for the website of an educational institution. I exercise diplomacy in office politics and preach about the good of the whole. Not just writing and editing, I weigh in on design and information architecture decisions. I attend An Event Apart 2009 and hear Kristina Halvorson speak. She shows the diagram of all of the jobs that touch on content strategy, and I think, “Holy crap, that’s me!”

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