ramirez_markI am a former newspaper journalist who has found a new home in higher education communications, retaining a host of traditional skills I honed in print media and picking up a few more in the digital space along the way.

After graduating from the University of Massachusetts in Amherst with honors, I joined a tiny weekly newspaper in New York’s Catskills as a reporter, then moved on to a daily publication in central Massachusetts. After a year, despite having no experience editing or laying out pages, I was hired to do both for the Bennington Banner in southern Vermont (I had applied to be a reporter). I ended up being pretty good at it, and much more—along with coaching a staff that was somehow younger than me, determining coverage, editing copy and paginating, I was also pressed into service as an editorial writer, photographer, arts reviewer, customer service representative, investigative reporter and columnist, usually depending on who was on vacation or out sick.

I joined the copy desk of the Times Union in Albany in 2005, where I earned a reputation for being able to turn stories around quickly without sacrificing quality, as well as being versatile enough to work with copy from all departments.

Perhaps seeing the looming opportunities and challenges of the newspaper industry, I moved a few desks over to TimesUnion.com in 2009. My primary duties included maintaining TimesUnion.com’s lifestyle and entertainment sections, covering everything from pets, health and parenting to celebrities and local arts. He led the creation of newsletters related to those sections, regularly managed the site’s homepage, wrote a popular blog on pet ownership, generated and analyzed traffic reports, answered webmaster email and more.

I did much of the same at NorthJersey.com from 2011 to 2012, pushing for improvements in blogging and social media, then joined The College of New Rochelle as a writer and web content strategist. I managed nearly all of the College’s online presence. I was the main administrator for CNR.edu and the intranet, as well as the site for alumni, and curated the school’s social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn. I created and maintained microsites for academic departments, annual and one-time events, campus organizations and institutions such as the Castle Gallery. In 2014, I helped lead the creation of a new CNR.edu, working with vendors and internal audiences to refresh its content on a new platform.

After 17 years of living and working in the Northeast, I decided to take on a new challenge in the American Southwest, joining Colorado School of Mines as a content manager for its College of Applied Science and Engineering. My charge is to elevate the profile of the departments in the college—Chemical and Biological Engineering, Chemistry, Metallurgical and Materials Engineering, and Physics—as well as the graduate programs in Nuclear Science and Engineering and Materials Science, affiliated research centers and individual faculty.

Working with scientists and engineers at a prestigious research institution has forced me out of what had been a comfort zone in the liberal arts, and for the better. Communicating scientific principles requires precision and attention to detail. I’ve also expanded beyond writing and photography to shooting and editing video, designing posters, flyers, postcards and other print collateral, and also getting into the nitty-gritty of SQL databases and content management systems. I’m heavily involved in the current effort to move the university’s website to WordPress.

I’ve taught himself plenty of technical knowledge in recent years—starting with HTML and CSS and working my way up to the inner workings of WordPress, PHP, video editing, Photoshop and more. I’ve built websites for myself, the nonprofit Uplift Internationale and a couple of other folks using WordPress.

Away from the job, I write and play music and try to explore the new kind of outdoors that Colorado offers with my wife, son and dog.