kelsey belomy
Success After Pacific
Kelsey Belomy

Quick Facts: 

Grad Year: 2014
Major: English
Organization: Blue Shield
Job: Technical Communicator

Q - What is a technical communicator? 

A -  A technical communicator is just a really fancy way of saying that I am an editor. I work with most of the lines of business at Blue Shield California to update the documents and there are quite a lot of them -- like several thousand. So, my team works to update them and make sure that all of the information is accurate and. that everything is in compliance with regulations and things of that nature. 

Q - And how did you become a technical communicator?

A -  Initially, I started in a different department. I was in provider operations. I got that right after school. I got that just by applying to a bunch of jobs on Linked In and other various sites, and I interviewed for the position and was hired. I liked that Blue Shield was a larger company and that it was pretty close to where I was living at the time. 

Q - You have a liberal arts degree that enables you to take your general skills in communication and then train specifically for the health care industry. Could you tell us about that process?

A -  I feel passionately about this in general because when I was an English major, I would get a lot of questions like, "Oh, so you're going to be an English teacher?" or that sort of a thing. People tend to style you and say that you can only go into that field or that career path. But, the cool thing about an English major, or any sort of liberal arts education, is that it really has focus on communicating and analyzing words, and really, no matter what job you have, you're going to have to apply those skills. 

When I started at Blue Shield and I was working in the provider operations department, we were working with doctors. We would get a lot of requests from them about really, anything under the sun, and you had to be able to read between the lines and interpret what they were actually trying to say. Having a background in English in particular really helps with that because you're used to taking these texts and picking them apart and making sure that you understand what the author is trying to say. 

And so, I think that along with general communication skills, in terms of when you are writing an email, are you able to express everything that needs to be expressed in a timely, succinct manner, so everyone has the information that they need. You know, having a background in liberal arts really helps with that because you're used to writing essays and reports. 

Q - What advice do you have for students who want to go to work in your field, doing what you do?

A -  Well, I would say that if they can, they should take a content engineering class. It's offered by Dr. Eric Sonstroem. It really has you examine how you present information. We looked at how to format emails in terms of having a lot of information to convey: are you using white space, are you using bullets, and how are you formatting information? Is it easy to digest? That has been immediately applicable in my day job. 

But, in general, English classes are really helpful because it's all about thinking critically and writing critically, and that's always going to be applicable to any job that you have. 

Q -  Did you have any professor who was particularly influential? 

A - The cool thing about Pacific and the English department in general, is that it is pretty tight-knit and small. So, you get to know a lot of the professors really well. I would say Dr. Cynthia Dobbs was probably one of the most influential along with Dr. Zhou. 

Q - Did the Career Resource Center help you in your job search?

A - Before I graduated, I did use their services to help me update my resume and kind of do a mock interview. I did find that useful. 

Q - How did they help you? What kind of things did you find particularly helpful?

A - With the resume, it's always helpful to get another set of eyes looking at it, just to make sure. At the Career Resource Center, that's their job, to look at those sorts of things and to know the latest and greatest trends for those sorts of things. When you have hiring recruiters, they're looking at a lot of resumes. You want to make sure that yours is perfect, so that you don't get put into the reject pile right away. 

As far as the mock interview, they can help you with questions that you might be asked. At Blue Shield, they asked more situational questions, such as, "Tell me about a time when you disagreed with your coworkers about something and how did you handle that?" I think the mock interview helps prepare you for that, so that you have an idea of what kinds of questions that you may be asked. And although it is difficult to prepare for situational interview questions, it can still give you an idea of what things to try to talk about and how you can best represent your background and your experience.