By: Shannon Grossman
Alaina Leary knows how to work—hard.
Formerly an intern with Janice and Beetle Press, this 23-year-old whirlwind is currently juggling coursework in Emerson College’s graduate program, freelance work for at least five magazines, full-time work and also, her own creative projects.
Alaina attributes her kick-start in freelance writing to the skills and experience she gained while at Beetle Press and other internships she enrolled in while at Westfield State University, including those with the English Department and Whip City Candle in Westfield.
Now, Alaina takes on jobs from several different companies, including Her Campus Media in Boston, Luna Luna Magazine, Germ Magazine, We Need Diverse Books and Hearst Magazine. She does a combination of editing, writing, social media oversight and graphics preparation. “It’s really great to work with all these different writers and creative people,” Alaina says, noting she enjoys the creative process and having a hand in stories and online messages.
As if she wasn’t busy enough, Alaina also works full time as a social content curator at Connelly Partners in Boston, which she described as “digital media agency meets online publisher.”
Alaina says that if she wasn’t exceptionally active it would be weird. She was accustomed to taking on many different projects and tasks in her undergraduate studies at Westfield State, that it was natural to do the same afterwards.
At Emerson, Alaina is pursuing a master’s in publishing and writing. She loves the knowledge that everyone has and the practically of it all. The professors all have backgrounds from working in their respective fields for years, and they help prepare you for the “real world.” The most challenging thing is balancing life along with school. She feels like “an adult who happens to be taking classes” rather than a student, especially since she lives in her own apartment and not on a campus.
Alaina can’t exactly pinpoint how early her interests in writing, reading and graphic design began to develop—possibly sometime around second grade—but she always knew these paths were something she wanted to pursue. She penned a powerful book about the loss of her mother as a young girl. Nowadays, she continues to work on her own creative projects.
She is in the midst of writing another book, but it is hard to commit the time needed during the school year. She is also working on some short stories and some creative nonfiction essays with hopes to get them published. Depending on the week, she sets aside time specifically to write, but other times, she finds herself caught up with work and uses some of that free time to her advantage to write for fun.
Before she begins writing, Alaina always starts with brainstorming, and, sometimes, unexpected things happen. When she gets stuck, she tries to take a step back and not look at her work for a while, or get other people to look at it and give her feedback. She strives to ensure every piece is “as engaging and well-written as it could be.”
Alaina sees herself, in the future, being a creative director, enjoying anything related to digital media and desires to have a role in all the different areas all the while pursuing her creative writing.