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Interview with a Staff Writer
This staff writer has worked for an online poker website for five years where he writes content regarding the most recent poker news, as well as profiles of top players. He also shares how he found himself in a writing position after an unfortunate chain of events forced him to leave school, where he was studying mathematics, and take care of a loved one.

Q: What is your job title and what industry do you work in? How many years of experience do you have in this field? How would you describe yourself using only three adjectives?

A: I am a staff writer for a popular online gambling community website. I have five years of experience as a part time writer, and about a year and a half of experience writing full time for the website in question. If I had to describe myself using only three adjectives, I would say that I am hard-working, funny and quiet.

Q: What’s your ethnicity and gender? How has it hurt or helped you? If you ever experienced discrimination, how have you responded and what worked best?

A: I'm half what would be considered Caucasian and half Cherokee, and I am male. I'm not sure if my ethnicity or gender has mattered so much as a writer since I've only met my main employer face to face once for a few hours. I've never experienced any sort of discrimination that I'm aware of. This sort of thing hasn't been a factor since people who have hired me for freelance work only know me over the Internet and don't often ask about my background.

Q: How would you describe what you do? What does your work entail? Are there any common misunderstandings you want to correct about what you do?

A: About half of the writing that I do currently has to do with covering current events in the poker industry. This includes tournament updates, lifestyle pieces of popular players, and summaries of what happens on popular poker television shows. The research I do for my job isn't very difficult, but it does take a lot of time. I would say the biggest misunderstanding people might have about my work is that it seems like I'm not doing very much since I'm at my computer a lot. Even when I take my work with me on the go, it probably just looks like I'm doing homework or something since I'll usually have a few papers scattered in front of me with my laptop to the side.

Q: On a scale of 1 to 10 how would you rate your job satisfaction? What might need to change about your job to unleash your full enthusiasm?

A:I would rate my job satisfaction as about a six. This job is really just something I happened to fall into, and I don't know if I really have any long term plans of being a writer for the rest of my life or anything like that. I would be a lot more satisfied about my work if I could write about topics that I'm interested in on a personal level on a more regular basis.

Q: If this job moves your heart – how so? Ever feel like you found your calling or sweet spot in life? If not, what might do it for you?

A: This job doesn't really do it for me because I don't really feel any sort of emotion about what I'm doing. Sometimes I get to talk with some really interesting people that I write about, and if that happened a lot more often, then I would feel better about my current job.

Q: Is there anything unique about your situation that readers should know when considering your experiences or accomplishments?

A: I dropped out of college one class away from being considered a senior to take care of my fiancee because she started having a lot of medical problems and is now disabled. That is what led to my current job situation and is why I haven't finished school and moved on to a more fulfilling career.

Q: How did you get started in this line of work? If you could go back and do it differently, what would you change?

A: I was really involved with this popular online poker community and was a winning player at mid-stakes games online. When I had to quit school and needed a job, the owners of the website the community was built around offered me a job as a news writer. If I had to do it differently, I probably would have saved more money in case something bad happened.

Q: What did you learn the hard way in this job and what happened specifically that led up to this lesson?

A: I learned the hard way that some people have huge egos and you have to tread carefully around those people. If you don't protect yourself and if you aren't careful about offending people, even if it's only because the other person is being incredibly unreasonable, then you can find yourself in a situation where someone is actively trying to sabotage your work.

Q: What is the single most important thing you have learned outside of school about the working world?

A: Outside of school I really learned that hard work is necessary and pays off. I always sort of coasted through school, and didn't really ever push myself unless I really enjoyed something. As a writer in my position, I have to work really hard to get the job done now because the only writing I did before was for classes when I knew how to do just enough to get by.

Q: What’s the strangest thing that ever happened to you in this job?

A: The strangest thing that's happened to me in this job was when I did a piece that was basically a summary of another news story that was talking about the finances of a person everyone assumed was a winning high stakes player. The piece indicated that the player in question was actually millions of dollars in debt and had a negative net worth, and the website I wrote for almost ended up getting sued because the original article was completely fabricated. It wasn't my job to fact-check the article, but just to summarize it and provide a link to it.

Q: Why do you get up and go to work each day? Can you give an example of something that really made you feel good or proud?

A: I wake up seven days a week around 6 am, and I've usually started working by 7 am. I work to pay my bills and to take care of my fiancee while she is recovering from the same medical problems I mentioned earlier. I'm proud to know that I'm able to work hard for what I have instead of asking for a handout.

Q: What kind of challenges do you handle and what makes you want to just quit?

A: The biggest challenges I have to deal with on a regular basis have to do with balancing my work life with my personal life in terms of taking my fiancee to doctors appointments and things of that nature. In a typical week, I drive anywhere from 300 to 500 miles because of all of this, so I've had to find ways to take my work with me. After putting in about 25 hours of work on a large project in early 2010, my laptop's hard drive failed and I had to start over from scratch. At that point I just felt like crawling in a hole and dying.

Q: How stressful is your job? Are you able to maintain a comfortable or healthy work-life balance? How?

A: My job isn't very stressful. If anything, it's often an escape from the more personal aspects of my life since I don't have to worry about anything except the task at hand.

Q: What’s a rough salary range for the position you hold? Are you paid enough and/or happy living within your means?

A: With my freelance work included, I make about $40,000 a year, and I'm happy with that. I don't have any financial problems, despite paying for a lot of my fiancee's doctor bills out of pocket.

Q: How much vacation do you take? Is it enough?

A: I work weekends, and I take off about three or four days each month. Because my work isn't physically hard and I can take it with me wherever I go, it's not nearly as bad as it sounds. I'm happy with this for now.

Q: What education and skills do you need to get hired and succeed in this field?

A: My level of education has never been a problem with getting freelance work, and it wasn't even mentioned when I started working as a staff writer for a poker website. The only requirements I've ever had to meet for any sort of writing job was a writing sample that showed that I had a good understanding of grammar and spelling. To succeed in this kind of work, you need to be able to work regular hours without needing someone else to get you motivated, but I guess that's something a lot of self-employed people have to do.

Q: What would you tell a friend considering your line of work?

A: I would tell a friend to make sure that this is what he or she wants to do and that he or she doesn't have a better option. I'm only in this job because it pays well for the work I do, but most people probably wouldn't be so lucky.

Q: If you could write your own ticket, what would you like to be doing in five years?

A: I would like to finish my undergraduate degree in applied mathematics and start graduate school while teaching math in a lower university or community college setting.