Alum of the Month: Braedan Zimmer

Liberal Studies alum Braedan Zimmer

Why take Liberal Studies? VIU alum Braedan Zimmer's choice helped him secure a position with Broadview Press.

February 12, 2020 - 10:45am

Have you ever wondered what life is like after a Liberal Studies degree? Shortly after graduating from VIU in May 2019, Braedan Zimmer found himself travelling around western Canada and the United States as a representative with independent academic publisher Broadview Press, using skills he learned as a Liberal Studies student. Here’s his best advice for those looking to follow in his footsteps.

 

How did you end up in Liberal Studies at VIU?

My high school counsellor, correctly detecting my proclivity for philosophy, suggested I take two introductory Liberal Studies courses in my first year at VIU, since these two classes, when combined, satisfy the undergraduate degree English requirement. I took LBST 111 (Love and Friendship) with Dr. David Livingstone in my first semester, and was hooked on Liberal Studies immediately.

 

Can you share one highlight from your time here?

It’s hard to share just one, but I’ll go with Freedom Week. Freedom week is a five-day Libertarian conference filled with guest lectures given by professors from various institutions, discussion seminars, buffet meals and nightly socials. It took place last year in Ottawa, so I was able to see our nation’s capital for the first time. It was a great way to cap off my degree, and it solidified the sentiment that if I go back to school for a master’s degree, it will be in philosophy.

 

What’s your journey been like since graduating?

During my final semester at VIU, I was given the opportunity to intern for Broadview’s CEO, Don LePan, at the Nanaimo office. After a few awesome months of working for him, the internship ended, but he gave me some freelance work editing and annotating. I don’t know if I’d have been able to transition into this sort of work so seamlessly if I hadn’t already been doing line editing for two publications at VIU: Portal and The Compass Rose. At around this time, Don also gave me the inside scoop on a full-time position with the company which was opening up soon. So I prepared my resumé.

 

What’s one thing you did that helped set you up for what you’re doing now?

Listen! Liberal Studies seminars provided me with great training in active listening. There are several other participants in any given LBST seminar, so unless I wanted to monopolize the conversation (which, I’m ashamed to admit, I sometimes did), I’d have to spend a whole lot more time listening than talking. I also quickly learned that I couldn’t build on someone else’s idea if I didn’t understand it. The ability to listen was vitally important during the interview process with Broadview, which unfolded over the course of weeks and included multiple long-form interviews.

 

Tell us about your job and what you like about it.

I travel to universities across Canada and the United States letting relevant professors know about the books we’ve published recently, and hoping to entice them with a title or two they might want to adopt for their own courses.

I love the travel. I cover universities in Vancouver, Calgary, Illinois, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Washington, and get to travel to all of these places nearly every semester. I can’t get enough of my time on the road, but I could definitely go without the time I have to spend in the air. Flying is getting easier, though, now that I’ve realized that a pre-flight Gravol is key. I’ve loved spending time in smaller towns in the interior of Illinois and Washington, but I’m also fortunate to get to experience the immensity of some major American cities – this semester, I’ll be spending a week in both Chicago and Minneapolis. Perhaps best of all, I’m responsible for covering VIU, and it’s exciting to get the chance to frequent my home university even after my studies have passed.

 

What advice would you give a first-year VIU student who is considering Liberal Studies?

Don’t leave all of your reading for Monday’s seminar until Sunday. I read—skimmed—The Road from cover to cover on one of my first Sundays. I’d like to say I learned my lesson, but I didn’t. It wasn’t until my second or third year that I truly internalized the importance of chipping away at long readings. Your mind is in no condition to digest the riches of some of the texts you’ll be reading if you’re checking the clock every 20 minutes and wondering whether you’ll get any sleep.

 

Give us three random facts about yourself.

Fact one: There’s not much that I enjoy more than highway driving – sans traffic.

Fact two: I don’t currently own a car. Ironic, isn’t it?

Fact three: The lower the degree of luck involved in winning a board game, the more I enjoy it.

 

What’s next for you?

Good question. Professionally, I’m happy at Broadview. It’s truly a company filled with, and guided by, people I respect. I think I’ll experience more changes in my personal life. For example, I don’t see myself living in Calgary for the long term. I’m starting to realize that big cities are tiring. I think I’ll end up somewhere calmer. Perhaps it’ll be somewhere I can observe both the mountains and the ocean … I think I know just the place.


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