Erin Berthon

Erin Berthon, MA Career Advisor, Wilkinson College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences, at Chapman University

In January 2020, I received a phone call from alumna, Kira King, seeking career advice about changing from a career in entertainment finance to one as a writer. She had a knack for numbers, but storytelling was her passion. My first piece of advice was not to quit your job. I encouraged her to explore her creativity by taking some writing workshops and finding a mentor in the industry. Kira, a 2015 graduate in psychology and business, is an example of a student, who discovered after receiving her degree, that the classes she took in Wilkinson outside of her majors ended up significantly impacting her career trajectory.

Erin Berthon: Can you share a little bit about your career path?

Kira King: During the later of my time at Chapman, I was commuting to Los Angeles for Marketing internships in Entertainment about twice per week, which helped kickstart my career after graduation. I eventually moved my way up to a Sr. Financial Analyst at William Morris Endeavor (WME Talent Agency. It wasn’t until I started writing again that  I began to envision my escape as a writer. I’ve changed my mind so many times about potential career paths, and I think that’s just as healthy as knowing what you want to do from the get-go. In fact, I would encourage it. Many artists, writers, creative entrepreneurs have a day job until they get that first “gig-of-luck”, so if you find yourself in a similar situation know you’re not alone. There are plenty of creatives out there struggling just the same.

EB: Tell me about the process of writing a book?

KK: I was wrestling with a lot of internal turmoil when I picked up a pen, and so I figured whatever comes out comes out, which ended up being pretty raw and dark. Looking back on it now though, I realize it was a moment of self-discovery, as messy as it may have felt at the time. I was writing without a real intention to publish, which naturally shaped the tone of my voice. Even though it was mainly a therapeutic outlet, I continued to catalog writings in my journal and on my computer. It wasn’t until about a year after I started writing that I decided I would self-publish.

Kira King, ('15)

Kira King, (’15)

EB: How did Chapman/Wilkinson prepare you?

KK: Chapman was a faucet of inspiration. The faculty and students were constantly urging me to strive higher. I was surrounded by so many success stories, it pushed me to chase after my own. I hardly doubted my potential to do great things. Study abroad was also an amazing experience I was fortunate enough to participate in. Although Wilkinson was not my home for my major, the classes that I took in the college are what inspired me to explore my passion and talents. Experience is key. To be a great writer or artist is to have lived experience. I think the environment alone at Chapman encourages prosperity and growth. Chapman genuinely wants their students to prosper, and it’s celebrated. This article is evidence of that. You don’t always find that kind of attention at other schools.

EB: As an alumna, you came back to Chapman and used your career resource. How did this help you?

KK: You were like water to the garden I was seeding. I was laying the foundation without much of a recipe on how to go about it, but you urged me to begin the research. I started to manifest, envision, and actively search for creative outlets after talking with you. I began to take my life and my future into my own hands. Having someone you can talk to aside from your friends and family, someone who’s unbiased is crucial. Whether it’s a career counselor, a therapist, or a mentor, it’s important to have a few people who can offer substantial advice instead of just friendly support.

EB: Is there anything you wish you could have done differently?

KK: I wish I would have taken more electives at Chapman and in Wilkinson. I wished I explored areas like writing and music because that’s what I find myself pulled towards naturally. I was so focused on getting “the degree” and having “the experience” that promised “success” that I missed out. That doesn’t define success, we are just taught that. Take advantage of what you have within reach and have fun with it. Looking back I don’t regret the choices I made, but I have learned from my mistakes. They taught me to value my time and not to waste away an opportunity because I was worried about norms. If not for those mistakes made and lessons learned, I would not be the person I am today. Remember it all builds character and character inspires seductive storytelling.

Kira King just self-published her debut book of poems in January 2021. Titled, The Soul in the Mirror. As of a few weeks ago, her book now sits #35 in Hot New Releases for Poetry by Women. I am so proud of you Kira! I sincerely just witnessed your career dreams come true.