March 8, 2019 at 10:15 am

Alumni News | Cottrill Learned the Language of Business, Marketing

Clare Cottrill poses for a portrait in Ellis Hall on Feb. 1, 2019.

Clare Cottrill in Ellis Hall. Photo by Hannah Ruhoff

Alum Clare Cottrill ’01 vividly remembers her first day at OHIO: “I’m here!” she exclaimed when her family dropped her off.

Since graduating from OHIO with a B.A. in English, Cottrill has found her niche in nonfiction writing, publishing, and marketing.

She’s learned to be both a writer and a marketer, she says, by learning the “language of business.”

“You have a fantastic skill set,” she tells English majors. “You have the ability to take in information, make it logical and clear, and parlay people’s stories. Stories are used to sell.”

In 2002, she began a career in magazine publishing at Great Lakes Publishing Company in Cleveland. After five years as an editor at Ohio Magazine, she began working as a managing editor at Smart Business Magazine, focusing in custom content. She earned an M.B.A. from Baldwin Wallace University in 2010 and is currently a marketing specialist at Hyland, a software as a service company near Cleveland.

Rising Through the Ranks

“When I was a student at OHIO, I knew I was interested in magazine journalism,” she recalls, “and at first, my career path required some trial and error.”

After graduation, Cottrill started with an unpaid internship at Cleveland Magazine.

“That was such a good experience. I was then hired full-time for Ohio Magazine, and I’m still writing for Cleveland Inside Business,” she states. In these roles, she has interviewed paleontologists, cartoonists, Pulitzer winners, and more.

“I learned how to talk to everybody, which is good practice for an introvert!” she remarks. As the publishing world began to move toward custom (paid) content, Cottrill’s career trajectory likewise shifted.

Speaking the ‘Languages’ of the Workplace

When Cottrill began working at Smart Business Magazine, she learned a new set of “languages.”

“I learned the language of business—how to talk to CEOs, IT staff, and every other branch of the magazine,” Cottrill states. This allowed her to step into a managerial role herself, which she describes as both challenging and rewarding—and a unique way to apply her skills in English.

“When you’re an English major, it’s easy to get inside a box where you think ‘I’m a writer; this is my expertise,’ but you need to broaden your horizons, learn as much as you can, and speak different ‘languages.’ I’ve often written about software and company culture at different magazines, which is something I didn’t see myself doing when I was a student at OHIO.

Advice for OHIO’s English Majors

In considering the current job market, Cottrill encourages students to learn as much as possible about web-based writing, which is an increasingly necessary and marketable skill.

She also advises students to be patient with themselves when they become discouraged with writing.

“It’s okay and even normal to become frustrated with writing. It can be a labor of love sometimes,” Cottrill explains. “Remember, though, that you have a fantastic skill set: you have the ability to take in information, make it logical and clear, and parlay people’s stories. Stories are used to sell!” she remarks.

Skills sets that English majors bring to the job market aren’t limited to the creation of narratives, though. The possibilities, Cottrill says, are endless.

“Don’t ever let anybody tell you your skill set as an English major isn’t valuable. It is! English is not just about good grammar. It’s so much more. Your skills are valuable!”

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