2019 English alumna Kamari Pless emphasizes the importance of marketing yourself, not just your writing and college experiences
By Tabitha Labrato
Throughout her experience with writing, editing, content creation, and public relations, Kamari Pless has made a name for herself in the publishing industry in both Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles.
Pless graduated from Florida State University in 2019 with her bachelor’s degree in English-Editing, Writing, and Media, and she says she learned valuable lessons from her studies that she has deployed not only in her career but also in her life.
Being surrounded by talented people within the English department is intimidating, she explains, especially those students who were working freelance jobs in college. Despite being an “extreme introvert,” Pless used the public relations skills she learned throughout her time at FSU to market her most important asset: herself.
“I think what really caused me to pivot toward PR was a goal to gain the confidence in myself and my work that I needed to successfully find the type of writing that I like to do the most,” Pless explains. “I definitely wanted to learn how to market myself for when I am ready to start being a regular freelance writer.”
FSU’s course curriculum for an English degree was not the only factor that helped Pless sharpen her critical thinking proficiency and flair for communication, though. She also gained experience outside of the classroom working for publications such as The Good Girl Movement, CELEB Magazine, SERIESS Magazine, among others, exhibiting her acquired skill in putting words to a page.
Pless dove head first into many creative outlets at FSU, not just writing. She helped work on an FSU short film for Amazon Prime, she studied abroad in Valencia, Spain, where she also worked for a radio station located in the New Jersey/New York City area, and she conducted interviews at the 2019 Afropunk Festival in Paris to showcase on the radio station. In Tallahassee, she worked as a tutor at FSU's Reading-Writing Center to pass along her English knowledge to those in foreign exchange programs at the time.
Pless says that professors and teaching assistants in the English department taught her so much more, however.
“Looking back, I didn’t think I was nearly as involved as I really was, but FSU gave me some incredible resources to help me grow my writing skills and my love for all of it,” she explains. “Especially studying abroad in Valencia, there was so much more for me there than just classroom learning. I want to go back to Spain.”
Pless shares that the experience of being in Spain has remained her most memorable time while studying at FSU. She was a student in the Editing, Writing, and Media Program in Valencia, contributing to the publishing of the program’s magazine Nomadic Noles through her writing, design, photography, and social media content. That participation and everything in between—"an incredible experience,” she says—gave her the opportunity to live out her “Carrie Bradshaw, Sex in the City” dream.”
“I met some really cool people in Spain, some who I interviewed and still have connections with,” she says. “I met a basketball player who plays internationally overseas and she's someone who I frequently catch up with” referring to Jori Davis, who played for Indiana University, was drafted into the WNBA, and who now has played in Europe for 10 years.
“Even shop owners in that area that I interviewed have given me experiences that I still think about today,” Pless adds.
Her article in the Summer 2019 issue of Nomadic Noles is titled “Black beyond borders” and explores the question, in her own words, “What would it be like for a Black girl in Spain?” She obtained answers through her own presence in the country and through interviews with others, including Davis, FSU alumna Khari King, currently a second-year medical student in FSU’s College of Medicine, and FSU Professor of Voice Marcía Porter, who has spent three summers teaching in Valencia.
“I am proud of Kamari and the reporting she did for her Nomadic Noles article,” says Susan Hellstrom, an FSU instructor and co-leader of the EWM in Valencia program. “She asked an important, sensitive, and timely question, and she kept an open mind about where her question would take her. Moreover, when writing her article, Kamari didn’t trivialize or over-generalize her findings—ultimately writing that she found some, but not all, of the answers she was seeking.
"I think her article is a real service to future students who are Black and might be curious or hesitant about what it would be like for them to study with FSU in Spain.”
Pless finished her college career at FSU as a member of the W.E.B. Dubois Honors Society and the National Society of Leadership and Success. She earned the honor of being on the Dean’s List in 2018 and 2019. Pless also finished the 120-hour Teaching English as a Foreign Language certification course in April 2021.
Building off these enriching encounters and educational experiences, Pless continues to blaze a trail for herself, no matter what city she may find herself in to do so. She currently lives in Washington, D.C., working for Ward Circle Strategies, a communications consulting firm.
Her advice to anyone hoping to follow her on a similar career path is to always emphasize the importance of marketing yourself and to trust that you are your best marketer. Additionally, she applauds the versatility that the FSU English Department gave her, which has encouraged her to “pitch” herself to all types of writing jobs to help her find her true passion.
“Never try to lock yourself into one type of writing and don’t be afraid to try your hand at all kinds of writing jobs in the future,” Pless elaborates. “If it’s your passion, it will come to you and you will find it; so, just enjoy the experiences that prepare you on the way.”
Tabitha Labrato is an English major, on the editing, writing, and media track, with a minor in communications.
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