Blog: Looking back on my time at EPM

My first day on the job for Ethanol Producer Magazine was Jan. 4, 2010. Now, a new date, two weeks from now, holds significance for me.
By Holly Jessen | February 29, 2016

And that, readers, is what is called foreshadowing. If you were wondering what I'm trying to get it, it’s that after March 11, I’m going to start a new journey. That’s right, I’ve stepped down from my role as managing editor of EPM and my other hat, the mommy hat, is going to get more time in center stage.

For the past two years, since my daughter was born on Thanksgiving Day, 2014, I’ve been juggling my responsibilities as managing editor of EPM and as a mom. It hasn’t been easy, especially with my husband in nursing school and working part time. Now he has graduated, passed his nursing boards and completed his orientation in his RN job. He’s working in the same department, medical-surgical, as he has for the past nearly five years, starting as a CNA and working his way up to LPN and then RN. I’m very proud of my nurse husband!

Now I’m going to do what I’ve always wanted to do. Spend more time with my daughter, instead of sending her off to daycare. In order to do that, my plan is to market my skills as a freelance writer. In fact, I’m told readers will likely still see my name in EPM from time to time, as I’ll likely be hired to write freelance pieces for the magazine. Still, it’s going to be a big change for me, to be able to work from home part time, rather than being on a Monday through Friday, 40 hour a week schedule. And it’s a new life I’m very excited about and eager to begin.

Now that the news is out, I can’t help but reflect on my career with BBI International. As I’ve said before, I worked for the company for a year back in 2006, before moving on when my husband took a job elsewhere. Then, five years and nearly two months ago, I started working for the company again. For the first several years I was, as a former coworker termed it, a writer monkey. Then, it 2012, I was promoted to features editor, before being named managing editor in February 2013.

I’ve said it before but, I would have been baffled if someone had told me, back in college, that I’d someday write for an industry trade journal about ethanol. First off, I wasn’t even really aware that there was such a thing as industry trade journals. At the time, my focus was on newspapers, which is where I spent nearly a decade of my career as a journalist, reporting for three weekly and one daily newspaper.

The other thing is that I had absolutely no knowledge about ethanol. Zero. I recall doing a brief Google search before my first day on the job, back in 2006, but it was cursory at best. My theory on journalism has always been, I don’t need to be an expert in the subject matter, I simply need to talk to experts and be able to turn what they tell me into a story.

Today, although there is always more to learn, I can say I have quite a bit of knowledge about the industry and the people working in it. Although I would not call myself an expert, I certainly have come a long way in the past five years. In fact, counting the first time I worked for BBI International, I have now written about ethanol for six years out of my 15 year career as a full time journalist.

And, although five years at one job isn’t record-breaking by any means, it’s twice the amount of time I worked at any of my previous jobs. In my jobs as a newspaper reporter, it seemed like I always got restless after a while. I felt like I’d learned the job I was in and wanted a new challenge after a couple of years. With my job at EPM, I felt like there were always new challenges, both in my position with the company, as well as what I was learning about and reporting on within the ethanol industry.

One thing I know for sure. I’ll leave this job, irrevocably changed by my time as a reporter who covered the ethanol industry. No matter what I’m doing, I’ll always be strong believer in this industry and what the people in it are trying to accomplish. It was wonderful getting to know all of you and I wish you, and the ethanol industry as a whole, the best of success!