Beyond the Classroom: Rowan Graduate Stephanie Ciecierski Pursues M.A. in Writing and Internship with The Rug Truck

Stephanie writes in her notebook on a bench on campus.

Stephanie Ciecierski (she/her) is a first-generation Rowan University 2016 graduate who majored in English and Subject-Matter Education. She was a transfer student from RCBC in 2013, and then commuted to Rowan from Medford, NJ (Burlington County). Now, after five years of being a high school special education teacher, Ciecierski is pursuing the second year of her M.A. in Writing. In addition to working towards her master’s, she is interning with The Rug Truck to learn more about content writing and SEO. 

Can you tell me about your internship and the responsibilities you have there?

I’m interning for The Rug Truck, a rug warehouse based out of Swedesboro, [New Jersey]. My internship is basically content writing, so I’m writing blogs, and there are style guides for the specific rug styles that they have. What I’m doing is meeting up with an outsource company called Strive once a week for marketing content and search engine optimization (SEO). I meet with [a representative] on Zoom who lives in California, and he trains me on the content and copywriting. He’s been showing me a lot more of the backend copywriting stuff recently because he realized that since I’m a graduate student, I have a lot of experience with writing, which is not something he’s used to. He’s used to more early undergraduate students interning with him, so he trusts me to just write the blogs and post them. 

He walks me through the programs to use and to look at the keywords that come up in a Google search. Say you look up “blue rugs,” you’re going to see where your website ranks on the search that comes up. The goal of SEO is to get as high as possible up on that list. It’s very challenging sometimes because you’re competing with really big corporations. It’s really interesting because there’s all this backend stuff that Google does, like Crawlers that will crawl your webpage for activity to pull from. 

It’s a lot, and I’ll rewatch the Zoom meetings, but for the most part, what I’ve been doing comes in three parts: the meeting with Nick, the blog writing and publishing—so there’s a little bit of HTML coding there—and then there’s social media and email campaigns. I start with the blog, edit it and add pictures, upload it onto Shopify, and then the email campaign about the style guide through Klaviyo comes after, and do the social media through Planoly.

Stephanie sitting in a chair with a notebook in her hands.

How did Rowan best prepare you for this opportunity?

Honestly, I would say my undergrad English classes—I love them, all of them, they’re just the best—and definitely Core 1 and the staff in the Writing Arts program. Other than that, I’m in the Teaching Experience Program as a master’s student, which is that I get to teach and get paid as an adjunct to teach College Composition 1. I love it, I think it’s so much fun, especially being back after being online because the high school I taught at was hybrid and I only saw maybe 10 kids at a time. Everyone was just so happy to be in person. 

Was there a specific mentor that you would turn to about your degree/field? How did they help you?

It’s probably Dr. Jen Courtney, she pretty much runs TEP and does the orientations and interviews, and she teaches one of the classes you have to take to do the program. It’s all about skills and annotations, summaries, proper paraphrasing, and things like that. Since Jen has been the go-to person for any problems I’d have, she’s the person I just end up chatting with. I’ll probably talk to her about my internship at the beginning of the semester because she said she’s interested in learning about SEO. 

How did you come across/acquire your position?

Grace Marie Fillenworth was sending out information about internships, and I saw there was a summer course internship, which is exactly what I wanted to do. So I emailed her saying that I was interested in an internship, something with SEO and copywriting, or editing and proofreading—anything that would give me experience to enter into the field. She told me, “Oh yeah, we have an excellent one we’ve worked with so many times, don’t be weirded out by the name, it sounds boring but I promise it’s really cool!” So then I sent her my resume, and I started talking to the owner, Caroline, and she was very warm and welcoming. 

Stephanie leans against a tree on campus.

What has been the most meaningful experience you’ve had at your position so far?

The first blog that I posted, I got an email from Caroline that was basically just “Hi Steph, I just wanted to let you know that I read your blog, and it’s really incredible, you did a great job, we really appreciate it…” It was just really nice, that level of recognition. I’m so used to just doing the thing and it’ll get looked at sometime, but she just showed me that she really is paying attention. 

What knowledge or skills have you developed through this opportunity that you will take with you for future endeavors?

Definitely learning how to write content and copy. My first draft of a blog I wrote used a lot of second-person, and the first thing that Nick said was “Don’t do that,” so I had to reroute that, and the next thing he said was I can personalize it more. I’ve been playing with that, which has been a lot of fun. 

The first blog, the Globetrotter blog, sounds a lot like a basic marketing blog. It doesn’t really have a ton of personality to it. I added some things to make it kind of unique. Then with the Pacific Northwest Rustic blog, I started adding vignettes on those, where it’s like “Walking into this home in Washington, looking out the window at misty forests, crackling fireplaces”—I tried to make it a little more cutesy and comfy. It was nice, I was having a good time.

This recent one is Coastal Casual, which, funny enough, I’ve had the most trouble with because my brain just thinks “Shore House.” Trying to make that unique and not stuck in a copywriting thing was challenging, but then I realized I can just do shore puns! I wrote the blog, and then went through and added all these cutesy puns. Because if you go to Ocean City, you’ll inevitably encounter a store with tons of signs that say “sandy hair, don’t care” or “going coastal,” so the people who are going to decorate their homes like that either have a shore house or are probably kind of inclined to the corny stuff. 

Stephanie leaning against a tree.

Do you belong to any clubs or organizations at Rowan?

I was in the Education Honors Society KDP, Kappa Delta Pi, which was cool, but I was in secondary education, and they mostly do primary education things. They have events with the elementary school students, and I headed the decorating committee for their one event, and that was fun, but secondary education always gets pushed by the wayside. 

My friend is one of the founders of the English Club, the Undead Poets Society. I was part of the executive board, and helped with events and stuff. We used to do Shakespeare’s birthday party in April, so I helped plan activities for that. We did “Is It Beyonce or Is It Shakespeare?” and “Pin the Head on the Bottom,” like from Midsummer. 

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Story by:
Skyla Everwine, senior English and writing arts major

Photos by:
Ashley Craven, junior sports communication and media major

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