A person’s first job in their field of choice kickstarts their career and sets the tone for the future. We spoke to recent graduates who make up the CASE community to learn more about what their first experience looked like. This is one in a series we’ve titled My First Job.
Yesenia Roque and Jacqueline Lee met in an online class during the summer of 2017.
“We had a group chat with our whole class, but it felt like we were the ones that would always respond the most,” Lee said.
The following semester they had two in-person classes together, by chance.
“It was not planned. We saw each other from across the class and I was like ‘Is that you? Are you that girl?’” Roque said.
They didn’t know it at the time, but that was the beginning of a friendship-turned-partnership that grew into their self-founded company, Write & Day.
Roque was born and raised in Miami. She graduated from Varela Senior High school in 2011 and received her associates degree at Miami-Dade College before transferring to FIU. She came in as a dual-major in psychology and French literature. Somewhere along the lines she decided an English degree was better suited for her.
“People don’t know the beauty of saying that you have an English degree and it’s such a prerequisite for many other careers,” Roque said. “I decided I wanted to be a business owner because I realized I didn’t like answering to other people.”
Lee was born in New York and raised in New Jersey. She initially moved to Florida to attend Saint Leo University in Tampa. After a year, she moved to Miami to attend Miami-Dade College.
“The financial realization hit me,” Lee said. “I couldn’t get any additional financial aid from Miami-Dade so I was paying out of pocket, working three waitressing jobs. I took a break. Two years later, I went back and I was like ‘You’re doing to do this.’”
That she did. In April 2016 she earned her associates degree. However, things then took an unfortunate turn in her personal life. Her mom, who had fallen ill earlier in the year, passed away the following month.
“I told my mom I was going to get my bachelor’s degree. It doesn’t end here,” Lee said. “It took me six years at Miami-Dade, but I went to FIU in August of 2016 and knocked it out in two years. I was very proud of myself.”
Lee always knew she wanted to pursue an English degree. She just didn’t know if she wanted to become a writer or an editor. She considers herself reserved and loves diving into a new book as often as she can.
Roque, on the other hand, considers herself to be outgoing and has a background in theater. “We’re polar opposites, but we complement each other where the other one is weak,” Roque said. Insert the perfect company name for their personalities: Write & Day.
But how did two women studying English come together to establish a boutique copywriting firm?
“We had a couple of drinks at the Chili’s on campus after class and she asks, ‘Do you want to start a publishing company?’ and I’m like ‘That sounds wonderful,’” Lee said.
“Wow, I wasn’t prepared for that answer,” Roque laughed.
They admit they had no idea how much work it took to start a business, including filling out forms, registering with the state of Florida and creating marketing materials. They focused on a writing and editing firm to start with the hope to grow into a publishing company.
“It’s a new experience, we’re constantly learning something new,” Roque said. “We’ve come so far from when we first met, to celebrating a year [of operation] in May .”
Roque and Lee never went through a post-graduation job search, they opened Write & Day two months before graduation. Lee quit her job of almost seven years and Roque slowly let go of her three jobs as she transitioned to Write & Day full-time. In July of 2018, they landed their first client.
“We didn’t have business cards, we didn’t have anything… sweaty palms were out of control,” Lee said. “It was our first event and she ended up being a book client.”
Some of the services Write & Day provides include but are not limited to resume packages, press releases, content writing for websites and general copy-editing. They work with small businesses, local publishing companies and individuals.
Down the line, Roque and Lee hope to expand in every direction. They currently work remotely, but want to establish a brick-and-motor location. Their goal is to be known as the “Jiminy Crickets” of writing. They aim to have multi-locations with a growing team and eventually offer a seminar program that encourages people to write about their stories. They’d like to become vendors and speakers at conferences across the United States. Most of all, they always want to stay true to themselves and encourage others to do the same.
“Whatever it is that makes you happy, whatever you’re really good at, like 10 out of 10 you recommend yourself, do it.” Roque said. “Start as freelance, believe in yourself and put your all into it. It won’t be easy, but it’s better to do it and fail than not do it at all.”
Lee echo’s those thoughts.
“I’ve realized that sometimes you don’t know how you’re going to make your way out of something, but the choice you make, that’s what defines you. It’s not what happened to you, but how you handle it.”
It’s been a year of challenges and growth but Roque and Lee don’t regret a moment of it. In fact, they start every morning with affirmations. They set aside 15-20 minutes to breathe, get into the zone and establish a positive vibe for the workday.
“It makes a huge difference,” Lee said. “Even if you show up cranky and tired, the affirmations help us buckle down, zone out the outside world and get to work.”