Ryan Birchmeier, ’12, is a public affairs associate at the New York City Economic Development Corporation. Prior to this position, he served as communication and engagement manager in the Office of Innovation and Technology for the City of Philadelphia. At St. Joe’s, he was a member of the Men’s Track & Field Team and a tutor in the SJU Writing Center.
The Public Affairs department manages external communications and handles media relations. We write press releases, media advisories and talking points, issue statements to reporters, and manage press events.
How did you end up working in government?
Randomly. I applied for nearly every job I could find after I graduated. The City of Philadelphia was the first place to offer me a job. I figured I would stay for six months and find something else. I never considered working in government, but it wound up being too interesting to leave. In government, and especially in political communications, you get to work on a wide range of projects and programs and meet people from every walk of life. The field has the same number of pros and cons as any other industry, but every day is interesting.
How did your English classes at St. Joe’s impact you as a writer?
It made me a better writer because it gave me an opportunity to actually write. I miss writing classes and one-off exercises that forced me to sit down and write something creative. It’s a hard thing to do, for me at least, without the structure of a class or prompt.
How did your English degree prepare you for working at the NYCEDC?
It gave me the confidence to be creative. I’ve had to learn as I go, just like in every job I’ve had. The English degree gave me the chance to read some of the world’s most brilliant people, and then experiment and tweak my own creative process. The experience gave me the confidence to think critically, quickly, and use my creativity to help solve problems. Thank goodness I didn’t spend four years looking at Excel worksheets. That wouldn’t have helped me.
Do you have any postgraduate advice for an English major?
Don’t listen to your parents’ friends. My parents were supportive of me being an English major, but other adults would say things like “What are you going to do with that?” I think there’s too much emphasis on practicality when it comes to education and line of work. Go do what energizes you. I accepted a random job with the City of Philadelphia because it seemed interesting. It wasn’t well planned or practical, but it led me down an interesting path.
The New York City Economic Development Corporation offers paid internships for college students. All opportunities are posted at the organization’s website.
—Jimmy Wyatt, ’17