Finding Her Audience

Alumni connections helped Mia Sherin ’22 broaden her horizons as a writer, leading to a budding career in New York City.

By Carolyn Ten Eyck '18

Mia Sherin ’22 came to Kenyon knowing she wanted to write. So she did — op-eds for the Kenyon Collegian, academic essays and creative pieces for her English major. But still, “I honestly had no sense of what it would look like to be a writer in real life,” Sherin said. “I knew I enjoyed writing, and Kenyon definitely made me a good writer,” she noted. But the skillset required for an editorial career looked different than what she’d been honing in the classroom. 

“I was always messaging different alumni and having calls with them,” said Sherin, who regularly tapped the Kenyon Career Network for connections and advice. When Assistant Professor of Political Science Lisa Leibowitz connected her with James Dennin ’13, a New York City-based writer, something clicked. 

Through the Career Development Office’s Professional Extension Program, in which Kenyon alumni and parents create learning opportunities for students designed to emulate real-world work, Dennin worked with Sherin to develop her career aspirations. “He opened my eyes to how I could be a writer as an actual career that’s sustainable,” she said. Through Dennin, Sherin connected with people at the Bustle Digital Group, where she scored a fall internship. She also met editors at various digital publications, where she wrote freelance on topics ranging from TikTok influencers to personal finance. 

During her senior year, Sherin was introduced by Dennin to Cooper Fleishman ’09, a longtime writer and editor who’d made the leap to audience development work at the agency Giant Spoon, where he oversaw audience strategy for the newly-relaunched Departures magazine. “She asked what skills she should pick up before entering the job market,” noted Fleishman. “I said, ‘Learn SEO!’,” referring to the process known as search engine optimization. “Amazingly, she didn’t hang up and quit journalism forever.” The two kept in touch, and early in Sherin’s final semester at Kenyon, a job opened up at Giant Spoon.

“If there’s one common thread that unites the Kenyon alumni I’ve worked with, it’s that they’re deeply passionate about niche things no one else cares about and so good at communicating why those niche things matter.”

Cooper Fleishman '09

“Out of the whole candidate pool, Mia had the most relevant experience, but we were equally impressed with her communication skills,” Fleishman said. “The only problem was that she was still a Kenyon senior, so we offered her a part-time position as a Content Manager.” After Sherin graduated and moved to New York City, she took on the full-time position of Junior Strategist. 

“If there’s one common thread that unites the Kenyon alumni I’ve worked with, it’s that they’re deeply passionate about niche things no one else cares about and so good at communicating why those niche things matter,” Fleishman added.

While audience strategy wasn’t the career Sherin had planned for, “it opened my eyes to the different ways that I could be a writer without sitting down and writing books all day.” Through her new role, she writes headlines for the Departures newsletter, leads a key off-platform channel as an Apple Maps editor and works with the editorial team to lay out the website’s homepage. 

“It’s the perfect unexpected talent for intellectually omnivorous Kenyon students, like Mia,” said Fleishman. “She’s a strong writer, she understands the data behind why people read what they read and she can communicate those insights in a way that actually makes data feel fun —a triple threat.” 

Beyond the job insights, having alumni contacts in a new city proved invaluable to Sherin while  settling into post-grad life. “I do think of James and Cooper as my friends, a hundred percent, and also really good support systems,” Sherin said. “It’s definitely nice to just have people who can offer a lot of guidance, even if it’s not about work.” Before putting in an application for an apartment, Sherin sent Fleishman, an experienced city-dweller, the listing to look over. 

“I wouldn’t have thought that I would go to a 30-year-old’s house for dinner on a Sunday night and have it be something I was really looking forward to all week,” Sherin, age 23, said, laughing. And yet, a few years after the initial networking introduction, her relationships with Dennin and Fleishman have only deepened. “[James] is still the person I message if I get an article published or anything like that,” said Sherin. “Working with him was definitely the most beneficial thing I did all throughout Kenyon for my career.”