Ben: Good afternoon and welcome to the IU Alumni Association Kokomo region podcast. My name is Benjamin Liechty, I'm the Director of Alumni Relations and Ceremonies on the IU Kokomo campus and I also work with the IUAA Kokomo Region Board of Directors. Today we are privileged to have joining us Martha Warner, who is the secretary for the IUAA Kokomo Region Alumni Board. She also is an adjunct professor at IU Kokomo and also has her own business Martha Warner LLC where she works as a writer and editor. Martha, thank you so much for joining us today.
Martha:Thank you for having me, very excited to be here.
Ben: Good, before we kind of really dive in, Martha, can you tell us a little bit more about what you do in your writing and editing business just to give our listeners a little bit more information about you.
Martha: Absolutely, so I have a degree from IU Kokomo in English and I have used that degree to teach for many, many years and then I went back and got my Master's Degree so my master's degree is in specifically teaching college-level English courses. So right now I write, I ghost write, I blog, I write white papers article content whatever anybody needs they call on me and a lot of it is editing people just don't know where to put the commas, so I do a lot of editing and ADA compliance as part of that just make things look good. I edit for a copywriting company and it's pretty great.
Ben: Awesome. Alright so the first question that I kind of want to ask you is why did you choose to attend IU Kokomo? What was kind of maybe something that really stuck out to you or that really enticed you to get your degree from IU specifically to Kokomo campus.
Martha: Initially I started, I've been to a few other colleges most notably probably Ivy Tech in Kokomo but they didn't have the degree that I wanted. Initially when I started IU Kokomo didn't as well and I was planning to go to IUPUI but I had this amazing professor, Terry Boris, she was so amazing and I was in a class with her she will ‘kooky’ and she said something to me we had some small groups she said something about how I understood the material and I should be a teacher or something and I was just like oh, oh, oh, and everything just kind of started falling in a place. I really love the Kokomo campus because I am from Kokomo so the focus on community was really a big deal for me and Terry kind of helped mold a lot of that with me, Dr. Boris did. But also the other professors, Dr Giesecki was one of my professors and it was an organizational communications class and we talked just about the community and how much of an impact you can make on the community and since Kokomo is where my heart has been it just felt really natural and of course I love the campus seeing the growth in campus has been insane but I just love the campus and I love the instructors that I had and the friends that I met along the way. They were super special as well, so the campus just kind of felt like home. I did go to a larger campus, a couple of larger campuses and they just didn't have that connection that you have at IU Kokomo where you know you're walking down the hallway and people look at you in the eyes and they say ‘hey’. You don't know them but they're still friendly, you know kind of like when you're driving down the road and somebody waves at you. It feels like that at IU Kokomo, it feels kind of homey. And I love that.
Ben: That’s awesome. You kind of briefly touched on this in the previous question but I kind of want you to go just a little bit deeper, how was your student experience and specifically think of some extracurricular activities you were involved [in], perhaps some leadership that you took part in as a student, maybe some volunteer work as well that kind of contributed to your experience at IU Kokomo.
Martha: Absolutely, so I came to IU Kokomo as a single mom, I had when I first started at IU Kokomo I had 1 child and quickly there after I had 3. So I had the 2 following that. By the time I was in between having 3 kids and my last son, that’s when I met Dr. Boris and that’s where she kind of helped guide me to the understanding that my life wasn't over because I had children as silly as that may sound. I felt like that and I really felt like I had to go to school and had to go home and that was it because I had multiple jobs and kids to raise those things. But when I started to realize that I could really navigate my life,and my education, and my being a mom around each other, and I started being able to really navigate those things, I started participating on campus and that's when that's whenI woke up. That’s when I joined the correspondent so I was the layout editor and the editor of the correspondent. They sent me to the New York Times, which is a pretty amazing experience.
Martha: In addition I went to the leadership conference that we have at IU Kokomo with student affairs I went there twice, two years in a row and it was amazing amazing and I was a little bit older than some students and a little younger than some, but older than most so I had this ability to work with people that was different from what some of the younger students may have had. I really just enjoyed the experience and just getting to know the student affairs and Student Activities groups that was so enlightening a lot of fun as well. But it just expanded my experiences and this was back in the early 2000s so Kokomo wasn't the experiential learning it is now so that was my outlet having those extra curricular activities that was really the way that I got my experiences. I mean writing for the correspondent was huge for me because I was able to experience writing, which I do professionally now. But also just communicating with people, a communication degree in an English degree are so mixed in that same family and communicating with people in New York, I had lived there a long, long time ago briefly but communicating in New York and communicating at a leadership conference those are very different atmospheres and I had so many varied experiences, that it just it was a really great student experience. My last son I actually went into labor with him in class so I had an interesting experience with that. That was also when I said hey I'm going to do this I'm going to go full-time, balance the kids, work multiple jobs. I did work multiple jobs at the school though I was a reader, I was a TA, I worked several different jobs at the school and that kind of kept me there which was really really wonderful. And really helped me shape my own experiences but also on that academic level that I didn't really think that I deserved. I came from a very poor family so for me I didn't understand education and I didn't really think I deserved that upper-level thought and they helped introduce me to that and really embed my life in that and it really changed everything. I mean I don't know who I would be if my experience wasn't the same way. I pushed a lot of boundaries when I was there personally and also at college I really challenged certain things that were going on in our community and on campus and those are things I'm pretty proud of. I attended conferences, Dr. Boris she sent me to several student conferences so I got more experiences and just had a really great wealth of experiences and specifically degree oriented experiences as well.
Ben: I think that's so important especially a campus our size and a lot of individuals across the university, you know that they automatically think of Bloomington and IUPUI as the place to go and be where you can have that certain specific type of student experience that many individuals may or may not be seeking. But to know that IU Kokomo is right up there offering those same kind of experiential learning opportunities to current and future students you know what that's amazing. And it really opens up a lot of doors and opportunities for people that perhaps they never really considered or thought of in years past.
Martha: I agree, and even now I focus on students who, they may not feel like they're up to par, they may feel like okay I just need to lay low do my thing and get done and go back to my really really small town and live my life the way that everybody else does. I try because I was given that opportunity to see outside of that and so I try to do that as well. As an instructor I got to take students on a KEY trip and the KEY trips are like the best thing ever not just for an instructor but also for students. It was a really great experience, I took students who had never been out of Indiana and took them to Chicago. We went on this insane storytelling Adventure they got to do improv they got to go to the art museum. We ate Indian food like legit Indian food, they just had this really wealthy experience that they didn't even have to pay for so that was also amazing. I think those experiences for people who tend to be on the shyer side or just haven't been from a bigger city,I think that's a really great quality that we have at IU Kokomo that we can ease them into in the smaller setting. [And] make them feel a little more comfortable so then they can go out and do big great things because I know that is what our students are doing.
Ben: I completely agree. We will be right back after this brief message.
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Ben: And we're back. Today we're joined by alumna Martha Warner. So kind of tell us a little bit about what a typical day and week looks like for you, as far as it relates to your careers. You know do you have to have things scheduled a certain kind of way? Tell us a little bit about that.
Martha: My schedule is kind of crazy because I have a variety of clients and I do different jobs for those clients. So I usually, I work usually Sunday through Friday and on Sundays I sit down and I say okay what is my week going to look like. And in doing that if I have classes like this fall my schedule will shift a little bit because I'll be on campus 4 days a week. So right now I just kind of plan out what I need to do throughout the week but what goals I need to hit. I usually set a financial goal for myself for the week and then I find clients or I have my clients, I work on different things for those clients. So one example: I have a client who I write, I ghost write for a company that she works with and if I do so many then I get a bonus. So I sit down and I say okay this day is dedicated to this client. My editing jobs are a little bit more difficult because I have to wait for the writer to bring it in and then I have to edit it and then send it back to the writer who has to make the edits and send it back to me for a second set of edits. So there are a lot of dynamics in that but overall I have to wait for them to get done. So I just kind of let them plug those pieces but everything else I've got on a schedule. The end of the month it kind of gets hectic because people are like ‘I need this done by the end of the month’ and that rapidly approaches. So I try to spread things out a little bit more in earlier in the month usually the second week of the month is kind of like what am I supposed to be doing because I've done everything or I'm getting ready to do everything, but my clients aren't necessarily ready. So sometimes I get into a frenzy and I will work for 10-12 hours but then there are days that I work for like 20 minutes so it just depends on what they need is. I am constantly on social media because that's where most of my job some from. I also have courses that I've been developing so I have one that's live now and then I have 2 in the works so a lot of times I'm recording myself. That’s kind of difficult with my kids and my dogs to do in the house so sometimes I’ll take off and go to the shared drive or go somewhere where I can concentrate a little bit. But most of the time I get up and just get started with the day. My husband and I redesigned my office so I can be in here and really focus in. I'm on my computer or my phone all day, all the time yeah it's a lot of screen issues. So I work from there, it may be writing an article or it may be editing a piece and maybe doing research for an article that I'm getting ready to write. I do meet with a few of my clients I meet with them on Zoom or I will meet with them with an app. I have gotten to know so many different communication apps. It is a little insane how much stuff I have on my phone right now. But everyday, it can be full. The great thing about my job and the thing I probably love the most is that I can go anywhere. I have a son who lives in Bowling Green, Kentucky now so we go to visit him usually like twice a month. So I can take my job and just go down there and visit with him and do whatever I need to.
Ben: That sounds really awesome to be able to have that flexibility with your job and things of that nature. As you and I both know not every job is as flexible. There are some jobs that require you know an 8 to 5 Monday through Friday or you know sometimes a different kind of schedule. So what's one thing you wish you had known when you began your career?
Martha: When I left school I wish I had known that I could start my writing career. I was so scared. I only started my writing career last year and I graduated a long time ago. So I went straight into teaching I kind of thought okay this is what I'm supposed to do this is what I meant to you and I would never take back the time that I spent teaching. But if I had known that I could be doing what I'm doing now I think I would have started it a lot earlier, I know I would have seen it a lot earlier because this is really where my passion is. I love teaching and I've always loved teaching and I don't know that I would like to do one without the other but knowing that I could do this and like make a living at it instead of struggling as a teacher, it confounds me that I didn't think of this sooner and that I didn't believe in it sooner. If I had known that I could do this I definitely would have started earlier.
Ben: And that kind of emphasizes the importance of students and even alumni using the career services office in an effort to kind of help them uncover some potential career options that maybe they had never considered or thought of. You know I mean they do provide those services again to students and alumni and is definitely a perk.
Martha: Yea definitely, I think our staff or faculty and staff also have this ability to talk to students and say ‘Have you ever thought of…’, I know I do that a lot and I teach primarily freshmen so they'll come in and they're like ‘I don't know what I'm going to do’ or ‘I'm set on this’ and then what they enjoy is completely different. And so often we’re taught you do what you're going to make money at, don't do what you're passionate about, and I think that's really the wrong way to look at things. I see so many more students doing what they're passionate about now but do not understand that you can also make money at that or figure out how you can make money at it. So it may be doing something that's slightly off of that. I really would love to write my novel but I'm so busy writing other stuff for other people and making money that I haven't had time to do that. So it may be a sub-sect of that but by the time I get to the point where I can write my novel I know I've got a set audience. I know who is going to read my piece so I figure this right now is preparation for my novel. And I think we need to teach that to students more often. I think we are going in that direction when we were in college like I don't feel like Kokomo was the experiential learning environment that it is now, but it is. It is so great now that we have these experiential learning opportunities and people can go out and see things that they didn't see before and then they can really say okay I didn’t think this was a thing. I didn't know that I could do this and then they can dive into that a little bit more. I think it's great for our students for sure.
Ben: I agree. What is the most important saying you've learned in your life, and what was your life like before learning it, and then what was your life like after you learned that lesson?
Martha: I think the most important lesson that I've ever learned is that there is something positive in every experience. Prior to that I grew up in a household where you should not make mistakes like many people do. But my mistakes were, it was a lot of trouble that I got into and my brother and I, we made mistakes just like every other kid, but we weren't allowed to make a lot of mistakes, my dad was very very strict. But then we would make those mistakes and the consequences were pretty severe. So prior to that it was really rough just having a negative outlook, I mean everything was negative. I was super cynical and hated life for a very very long time and then I met a friend who was super happy about everything for absolutely no reason. I love her and I still am super good friends with her. She kind of helped me see okay even if you get hit by a car, okay well you know , you really didn't need to go to the store that day. You know something positive like find something positive out of whatever crazy consequence is on your case. So after that my life took a much more positive productive turn, before I was so scared to do anything because I was afraid to fail or mes it up, that I didn't do anything and then after that I started doing everything. I did all the things so I was trying to do this and do that and all kinds of stuff. And then I got older and I slowed down a little bit more, so I think really just understanding that there can be a positive to every situation no matter what it is, I think that's probably the best lesson. And it's made me do and it's made me active and made things, so that's a great lesson.
Ben: That's great and it's so important to learn especially right now like I mean you know I think that with the current pandemic and a lot of physical distancing and things of that nature. People are feeling disconnected and I think that being able to have the opportunity or the wherewithal to focus on the positive is really important in this particular day and age that we are living.
Martha: And I don’t think it is easy and I think our mental health is in a different place from where it has been and where it’s going, hopefully in a more positive direction. But I definitely think it's a beneficial technique just reflecting and looking for the positive.
Ben: Absolutely. Last career-related question I'm going to ask you before we kind of get into the final questions relating to the alumni experience, is what skills would you be looking for in a recent graduate if you were hiring for your writing business?
Martha: That's a great question and it's actually happening because I contract with people to write so I have two students who I'm currently working with. They both have been my students and their writing skills were, they were on point but more so than their writing skills being on point, their ability to learn is much stronger. Their willingness to say okay I don't know or how can this be better. That is the skill of my daughter's volleyball coach, she says you know if you're not teachable, you're wasting my time. That's something that I think for me looking at hiring someone I would want somebody who is flexible enough to learn because I have imposter syndrome myself, so I know they're going to have it. The skills are technical so we can acquire those skills. But having the willingness to not let their ego override their willingness to learn and grow and develop then that's I think the number one skill for me.
Ben: That’s great and it can be really hard. I mean I think that so many people can't get out of their own way and it can be a detriment to their career path, their trajectory, and their current position and it's so important to be able to learn how to roll with the punches and still learning with that. But it's an important skill set to have right now.
Martha: I 100 percent agree.
Ben: We're going to take a quick break but we'll be right back after this brief message.
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Ben: We are so fortunate to be joined by alumna Martha Warner on this edition of the Alumni Angle podcast. So our last questions are going to focus on the alumni experience and the importance of being an alum and things of that nature. And that kind of leads me into my next question, what has been your opinion of the power behind the IU alumni in network?
Martha: Our network is amazing. Being together is a really great networking experience. When we have different events or different groups of people come or different people come to those events, so that has been really really powerful but even the online networking has been really interesting. Recently we updated our alumni association online portal and now I can see things that people are doing, I’m like I don’t know this person, this is cool they are also an alumni. So there's a sort of a bond that you have as an alum that I think it's extremely important and I love the networking that we do. But also when I go to events, the bicentennial celebration that we had with primarily Bloomington, I was down in Bloomington all the time it felt like. It was really great because I met all these people and people do not have a problem, alumni I don’t think have a problem talking to each other. So like random kids and people are coming up to me and they’re like ‘Are you an alum? And I’m like yea I’m an alum’. So we just start having these conversations and it’s really, it’s been nice ust having that extended family. It’s like going to a family reunion and you’re like ‘Who’s this cousin? He’s from a different state’, so it’s like you have a lot of alumni cousins from different states and from different places, so it's been really fun to get to know each other. And then of course we have like our cheer squad you know the closer family so I feel like our Kokomo Region Alumni Board, I feel like we're each other's cheerleaders so I know if I go to a meeting and something is weighing on me, somebody is going to call me out on it and say ‘What’s going on?’ and talk to me. The two board members who recently retired, I love those two, they were two of my biggest cheerleaders and fans and they were just so wonderful always and they always made me feel so welcome. So as a younger alumni board and sometimes the middle of the road, I don’t always feel like I belong to this group or I belong to this group. I belong to every group and that’s the way they make me feel.
Ben: That is great to hear. It is important as IU alumni to really emphasize the importance of being welcoming to everybody and to make sure that people feel that element of comradery that we're all bound together by cream and crimson. Regardless of which campus you attended, at the end of the day all of our degrees say exactly the same thing, Indiana University.
Ben: Our last question to wrap up our interview is what would be your advice to graduating college students and recent alumni, about the IU Alumni Association?
Martha: I think if you have an opportunity to join the board I think that's very important, but even more importantly I think going to events showing up. I think showing up and showing your support I think that's extremely important for any recent graduate or anybody who has graduated a while ago. Like I said I don’t know if that I would have joined if it hadn’t been for you. My best friend graduated the same time and the same degree and everything and she doesn't attend events but I still invite her and I think she would get a lot out of the experience if she attended an event. And we have a lot of a lot of fun, I think we do when we have our watch parties or whenever we have networking events of any kind there's so much more benefit out of it than there is, okay I took a few hours out of my evening. I think that's the important part and it increases that bond so I think just showing up, that's extremely important.
Ben: Good. Martha thank you so much for spending time with us today and just kind of sharing with us some tidbits about your career, about your life as an undergrad, and then obviously as an alumni board member, we really appreciate you taking the time.
Martha: Thank you, I’ve enjoyed it.Plug: Thank you for listening to this installment of the Alumni Angle podcast. We hope you found this episode informative and enjoyable. I’m your host Ben Liechty, the Director of Alumni Relations at Indiana University.