Michigan State University
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Department of Writing, Rhetoric, and American Cultures
Department of Writing
Rhetoric & American Cultures

Meet MSU PW Alum Maude Campbell



Photo provided by Maude Campbell

Following her graduation from Michigan State in the spring of 2014, Professional Writing (PW) alum Maude Campbell left East Lansing for New York City to pursue her dream of working in the publishing industry. She’s had an eventful journey, and three years later she finds herself with an editorial position at Popular Mechanics Magazine.

Maude first arrived in New York when the ink was barely dry on her diploma.

“I first attended the NYU Summer Publishing Institute a month after graduation, and then decided I wanted to permanently stay in New York.” She tried to find a job within the publishing industry but struggled at first. “I didn’t have any experience beyond college, so I had to take a job that was not in my field,” she recalls. After a year of working outside of publishing, Maude was able to step foot into the career path she wanted. “I was able to become a freelance copy editor at Elle Magazine through a connection from the NYU Summer Publishing Institute,” she explains. She made the most of her opportunity at Elle, which led to opportunities at other publications. “Through ELLE, I was able to freelance for Good Housekeeping and InStyle,” she says. At that point Maude was able to quit her day job and freelance full time, but that didn’t last long; within a month she had landed a full-time copy editor position at Popular Mechanics.

Working from 10am until 6pm, Maude gets to put her PW skills to work every day. “I sit down and check my queue to see if I have any stories waiting to be moved on. Our [issue] goes through six stages before it is ready to send to the printer, and I see the [issue] throughout three of those stages,” she explains. “I am also responsible for looking at promotional ads, press releases, and nomination text, like for the ASMEs.” ASME, the American Society of Magazine Editors, nominated Popular Mechanics for two editorial awards last year.

Maude and her coworkers produce ten issues of the magazine per year, aiming for a content count of around seventy-five pages per issue. “Each week our whole staff has an editorial meeting where we discuss the status of each article for the month we are working on and the upcoming month,” she says. “I work closely with our editors and art department to address any issues that arise during each copy stage.” While it’s usually smooth and steady throughout the week, Maude notes that a little chaos also comes with the job. “Layouts may change at the last minute, our editor-in-chief may want to rewrite a [portion] … you never know what each day may bring,” she says. Regardless of the unexpected challenges, she enjoys the process. “I absolutely love seeing a piece transform from its first stage to the contract proof, which is the last stage and what the piece will look like in the physical magazine.”

Maude is grateful for everything she gained during her time at Michigan State. “The Professional Writing program helped me in not only giving me the practical editing experience I needed, along with essential job skills,” she explains, “but it gave me the confidence to put myself out there.” She notes that the support she gets from the program didn’t end when she received her diploma. “I’ve had continued help and encouragement from professors after my graduation, even almost three years after I graduated. Professors Stuart Blythe, Kathryn Houghton and Jon Ritz greatly helped me in the process of coming to New York and staying and succeeding here.”


For more from Maude Campbell and and her work with Popular Mechanics, check out the publication’s website at popularmechanics.com. 


Written for WRAC by Taylor Downs