An Interview with Katie Kervin, Ooligan alum

I recently had the pleasure of catching up with an Ooligan alum, Katie Kervin, who just started a new job as Managing Editor at Hospitality Design magazine. A 2010 graduate of our program, Kervin has since been involved in pursuits mostly tied to event planning, a direct extension of her experiences in External Promotions (namely Write to Publish) at Ooligan. Though she is very busy settling in, Kervin was more than willing to answer a few questions for an inquisitive Oolie, speaking both to her experiences in graduate school and to what those experiences have led her to since.

What drew you to the program at Portland State?

I was halfheartedly looking for graduate programs, not really sure what I was even looking for. I had always entertained the notion of being an editor, but for some reason I didn’t think of it as a reasonable path to pursue. I am from Portland, so I was looking at schools in state, both because graduate tuition (as we know) is crazy and because I had to set some parameters for my search. I basically stumbled across the writing and publishing program on PSU’s website, which I’m still kind of amazed about because I had never heard of it—and it was a big program even then. I looked through the offerings and was so excited to find a legitimate editing track that I applied.

What departments or special projects did you work in/on while you were here?

I ironically spent a very brief time in the Editing department—I think only one quarter. I had also started with External Promotions because the group needed members at the time, and that’s where I stayed. I was assistant manager of External Promotions for Write to Publish 2010 (working with some students who are still my very good friends), and then I was the manager for the quarters following that event.

Kervin (seated, right) with some fellow Oolies at Write to Publish 2010

Kervin (seated, right) with some fellow students (and Chuck Palahniuk – upside down, center) in the Portland State graduate program in publishing at Write to Publish 2010

Where have you worked since graduating?

While I was still going through the program, I started working as an editor of a small digital magazine, which was an arm of a music marketing and promotion company. The company was started in Portland and then relocated to Miami. When I was finishing in late 2010 [shortly after the “official” end of the recession] it wasn’t a time when employers were banging down doors to hire, especially in Portland. The company asked if I wanted to come and work in the Miami office, so I did. I was there for about a year and a half, and then decided I wanted to move on. Because I was already on the other side of the country, I decided that I’d try New York, which was obviously a natural choice for publishing work. I moved up and started applying for jobs, both in book publishing and magazines because I had that experience. I got a job at Convene magazine, which is a trade publication covering the meetings and events industry. I was there for about two years, and then I recently started as Managing Editor of Hospitality Design magazine, which is a trade publication for designers of hospitality spaces—hotels, restaurants, bars, spas, and so on. We’re actually featuring Multnomah Whiskey Library in the March/April issue!

I know you just started your new job, but can you tell me a bit about what a typical day at Hospitality Design looks like for you?

I think most people would tell you that there’s not really a “typical” day in publishing. This is especially true in magazines, because it really depends where you’re at in the [production] cycle. I might be interviewing a designer, researching projects to write about, editing articles from freelancers or on-staff editors, proofing or working with the designer on layouts, meeting a product representative to hear about their latest, or editing articles for the website.

Do you have any advice for current or prospective Oolies?

I know this is all Ooligan students ever hear, but get involved. Get involved in the group that does the thing that you think you really want to do—be that editing, marketing, etc—but also get involved doing things you don’t know if you’re interested in. I didn’t think External Promotions would be “my department.” But there is no question that the group, and especially planning Write to Publish, is a big reason I’ve gotten the jobs I’ve had so far. Each of my positions has been related to events, whether that means writing about meetings and events, or helping to plan programming (HD has a number of conferences and networking events all over the country each year, plus the awards show here in New York City). A lot of media companies either have events or are looking to, so that experience has been very valuable for me.

Also keep an open mind. I’ve never even worked in book publishing, and that’s okay for me. Many Ooligan grads don’t. I am an editor, and I really like the processes and schedule of working for monthly magazines. Maybe you think you only want to edit YA fiction or [design book covers]. But jobs are hard to get, and you might be surprised by what aspects of certain jobs, or even other industries, that you end up liking.


Although she’s not sure of her schedule yet, Kervin hopes to make it to Portland for our upcoming alumni events in April.

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