Further in the MFA Mondays series on the benefits and practicalities of getting an MFA in Creative Writing, today’s installment covers the value of an MFA.
Q (Alison): How has the MFA credential helped advance your career? Have you been able to quantify it in terms of more money made, more work, etc.?
A (Annette): I got my job teaching creative writing at StoryStudio Chicago while I was in my last semester at Queens. I had no experience teaching creative writing; the only related experience I had was training people in my corporate job. I still teach at StoryStudio Chicago. It's a dream job. Right from the beginning I was able to create my own curriculum teaching memoir, my favorite genre. I now run an monthly advanced memoir workshop that is exactly the kind of sophisticated and demanding writing community I wish I had been able to find years ago. I also teach memoir intro classes in the spring and fall. I don't think I would have gotten the StoryStudio job if the MFA degree hadn't been on the horizon. That being said, many of my students are now published and they don't have an MFA (but they have me :-)
The MFA also paved the way for my big career switch three years ago. I did pursue the MFA with an eye on teaching because many years ago I overheard in instructor at the Iowa Summer Writing Program say that “you get an MFA in order to teach.” That was my light bulb moment. I was already at a point where I was considering an MFA because I wanted to take my writing to the next level, so the notion that maybe it would also give me a credential to do something else with my love for writing provided extra motivation.