I’m Callie Leuck, a Hoosier native. I enrolled at Purdue in 2006 to study botany and plant pathology in the College of Agriculture. A year in, I learned about professional writing and immediately set out to get a dual degree. I eventually opted not to complete the agriculture major, as I decided I wanted to go into science-medical writing rather than scientific research. Despite dramatically changing my major – and though I intentionally walked under the bell tower anytime I passed near it – I was immensely proud to graduate in 4 years.
Unfortunately, the job market was tough in 2010 and people with several more degrees and years of experience than I had were snapping up all the entry-level science-medical writing positions. (You can’t compete for an internship with someone whose master’s thesis was on the employer’s particle collider; you just can’t.) I was fortunate to get job in the Washington, D.C., area as a proposal writer. In order to get specialized, more advanced skills in medical writing, I enrolled in a part-time graduate program through the Johns Hopkins University in science-medical writing. Three years later, master’s degree in hand, I moved home to the Midwest to write phone scripts for Medicare call centers, where I flourished and was promoted to lead writer for the drug coverage area. I had been doing that for about three years when one of my regular job alert emails notified me of a medical writing job in my area. The company specialized in medical marketing and narrative storytelling, which aligned well with my skills and interests. That is my current position.
I cover an interesting variety of medical topics and am constantly learning new things – and writing about them! I mainly write materials for healthcare professionals to present to other healthcare professionals on a variety of medical and pharmaceutical topics. Projects I work on primarily include slide decks and materials for advisory boards, which can be a bit dry at times; other times I almost literally cannot believe I am paid to do things that are so cool, such as when we work on super fun formats such as webinars, videos, and discussion-based roundtable events.
Who is/was your favorite English professor at Purdue?
Dr. Jenny Bay was one of the English professors who had a deep and meaningful impact on my education and career. I had several classes with her, and she was an invaluable support during a difficult workplace experience and personal losses. I also have to mention Dr. Michael Salvo. His high expectations inspired me to greater improvements as a writer and a thinker; years later, he connected me with a recruiter that led me to a position that helped develop my career trajectory.
What is an interesting Heavilon Hall memory (or just one from the campus generally?
After I switched my major to focus on PW, I nearly moved into Heavilon Hall – classes in the PW computer lab, working on projects in that lab or in the Writing Lab, and PW club meetings in the Writing Lab. I have fond memories of the TA who taught my Technical Writing course moving class out from a dark basement lab to the outdoor lecture area on beautiful days.
How has your English major helped you in your professional career?
A lot of folks would be amazed at how applicable a background in English is to other fields. I’ve been a technical writer, a proposal writer, an insurance communications writer, and a medical writer. I learn subject matter quickly, which is one of my most marketable skills. My English skills aren’t only applicable in that all my position titles have included the word “writer.” I’m good at summarizing information from meetings, communicating with others, and writing emails. I’ve actually been complimented on writing quality emails quickly and diplomatically! My experience at Purdue also taught me that I can develop skills I didn’t think I could be good at – and excel at them – which at Purdue included trying internships in different areas and leading group projects. This has inspired me to continuously seek to develop communication skills. For example, I’m involved in a company Toastmasters club, in which I’ve recently been elected to an officer position.
Who is your favorite author and/or what are you currently reading?
I typically have several books in various stages of in-progress depending on my mood and current location. Currently this includes Bad Feminist by Roxanne Gay (location: daily backpack), The Aeronaut’s Windlass by Jim Butcher (location: Audible app on my phone), The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2016 edited by Amy Stewart (location: floorboard of my car), and Doctor Sleep by Stephen King (location: coffee table by my couch).