Q&A with Ben Schmerler
But Ben…You’re A Tech Guy!
There’s no doubt that at my core I’m a Science/Math/Tech Computer guy. A nerd for sure! If you had said to me when I was 18 I’d be helping people with writing, I probably would have laughed. Over the course of my career, more of my work became focused on things like writing blogs, doing talks at conferences, making public appearances on local media, and other things where messaging about technology (and cybersecurity, my particular focus) is a very difficult think to talk about. My advice to anybody in this field is to try to hone your writing and communication skills. I know writing can be a challenge for many, but it’s something I’ve improved upon over the years, so I felt this was where I could help in a real way.
Have Any Students Reached Out to You After College Acceptances?
When I get a card in the mail from one of the students, or a student sends me an email, or even just seeing a student happier after one of our writing sessions because they felt like they’re in a better place… it’s just a great feeling. I imagine many people try to find deeper meaning and purpose in their day-to-day-work, knowing you made a connection with someone. Working with Building STEPS is something I do that makes me feel like I made a real difference to someone. It’s a direct impact. I love the success stories, and while students are the ones that deserve all of the credit, I’m glad just to see their success firsthand and be a part of their story.
You’ve Helped Several Students Edit College Essays… What Stands Out to You?
For me, helping the students craft essays is a unique experience on a case by case basis. It’s often very personal, and the prompts the students are responding to are generally about something very meaningful to them. At first, I’m just some random person to these kids, so they are trusting me often with very sensitive information. Sometimes they are talking about themes that can be very emotional, like a negative experience they had as a small child, or personal insecurities. Even though my time with these students is limited, the feeling I get throughout the process creates a different dynamic compared to my usual work. It raises the stakes. They trust me, so I want to do what I can to help them. I’m not just editing a generic essay. I’m trying to help these students tell a personal story in the best way possible.