Get to know: Christina Bryza, Senior Editor

Joined Job Portraits: December 2017 | Based in: Richmond, VA

Sandra: What do you do at Job Portraits?

My role is “wordsmith,” which is a fancy way of saying “editor.” Editing can mean so many different things — from copy editing and proofreading, where you fix the basics like grammar and spelling errors and missing punctuation, to developmental editing, where you’re looking at organization and possibly suggesting additional content. Somewhere in the middle is line editing, which is essentially fine-tuning the language. For Job Portraits, I address all those aspects to some degree, but I specialize in line editing; we have great writers and creative leads, so a piece is generally very solid by the time it gets to me. In addition to making sure the style basics are in order, I’ll look for ways to tighten things up, or I might go back to a transcript and see if there’s a phrase that would better capture a speaker’s voice.

Tell us about your background and the other work you do.

I’ve been a writer my entire life. I went to college for journalism and moved to New York after graduation, where I worked briefly in magazines and then spent 11 years in book publishing, most of them at Simon & Schuster. I did a lot of copy editing, proofreading, copywriting, and marketing work during that time, and I also published a book of my own, which was an awesome experience.
A few years ago, I left Simon & Schuster to be the marketing director for a digital publishing startup, which was incredibly enriching and a very wild ride. After about a year, I went to work in communications and marketing for a nonprofit while running my own editing and consulting business. I also started to develop intuitive skills, which changed my world big time. Prayer and meditation had been a part of my life for years, but working in the “upper realm” and getting messages from spirit guides was entirely new to me. Last year, I shifted to a part-time role at the nonprofit so I could spend more time on writing and expand my business to include spiritual guidance.

Why did you join Job Portraits?

I’ve known Miki since journalism school — we met on the first day of freshman year — and I have a ton of respect for her and Jackson both personally and professionally. After they started Job Portraits, Miki would ask from time to time if I was interested in doing any editing or writing for them. At first, I was juggling my business and a full-time job, then I was focused on growing the business and writing my second book, but Miki reached out again in December and the timing was finally right. And the role is a great fit for me. Coming in at the last stage for a final polish is what I love most, and I also enjoy the diversity of our work. Our clients are doing so many different, cool things.
Plus, I think my Job Portraits assignments dovetail nicely with the rest of what I do — the editorial stuff, obviously, but also my intuitive work. I have a skill called clairaudience, which means I can receive energetic information through language, so there are a lot of parallels with the Q&A format we use at Job Portraits. It’s like this awesome patchwork that has come together as a career.

What’s the culture like at Job Portraits?

The Job Portraits team has a sincerity and authenticity that is completely in alignment with the work I want to do and how I want to show up in the world. I think we all believe in the mission of making meaningful employment more accessible to more candidates, and we’re also united by an understanding of each other as real people.
Miki and Jackson set that tone; they genuinely care about what we’re thinking and feeling. A few weeks ago, for example, they scheduled a call just to check in and ask how I was liking the work, if I wanted more, if I was interested in writing. I think they strike a great balance between staying aware of how people are feeling and what’s going on in the organization, and also giving us autonomy. We’re trusted to do our jobs, and at the same time, we’re allowed to be ourselves. It all feels so natural that it makes you wonder why more companies aren’t like this.
What’s collaboration like as a remote, part-time member of the team?
It’s actually fantastic. I didn’t have many expectations coming in, but I was wary of Slack. I’d used it at the startup, and while I loved that job, it sometimes felt like one never-ending meeting. But I’ve been pleasantly surprised with the freedom and flexibility I have on this team, and so impressed with how smoothly things run even though we’re all over the country — and sometimes the world. There’s a strong system in place, and it works well.
Because I’m remote, and because I work fewer hours than most of the team, I do have to be careful to stay plugged in and make sure I understand our clients and their missions. Fortunately, we have great documentation I can reference, and people are also very responsive to questions on Slack — and always happy to hop on a call to give me more context.
Our weekly team meetings are a big help, too. We all get together on a video chat every Friday to talk about what’s going on with us professionally — and sometimes personally, which surprised me at first. But it makes us more connected as a team. By sharing what we’re anxious or excited about, what we’ve been learning, and what we’re grateful for, we get to know each other as people, not just names on a screen. That makes collaboration so much easier.

Lightning Round!

What’s your morning routine?

It’s a grab bag. There’s yoga, prayer, meditation, a green smoothie with lots of protein and fiber, and journaling — but not all of those things happen every day. I always do at least two or three; I get to all five probably once or twice per week.

What’s your superpower?

Gratitude. I’ve learned how to feel grateful about anything, and it’s made a big difference in my life. To see the value in even the terrible things is incredibly powerful.

What’s the worst advice you ever followed?

The first thing that pops into my head is, “Don’t tell anyone,” though that’s really just some terrible advice from my own brain. My first instinct when something is bothering me or I feel shame is not to say anything, but I have to override that instinct. As Brené Brown says, the antidote to shame is empathy and communication.

What’s your spirit animal?

I don’t know that I have a spirit animal, but from my intuitive work I’m sure that I have spirit guides.

Tell us about a book that had a big impact on you.

The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander. It’s dense and distressing, but important. Reading it launched a whole chain reaction; it led me to other books and new thought processes and new friendships. It inspired me to get more involved in social justice work, which is part of the reason I’ve developed a more flexible career.

If you could interview one person, living or dead, who would it be?

I’m torn between Eleanor Roosevelt and Oprah Winfrey. They both made the most of their circumstances, and then made it their life’s work to lift up other people.

What unpopular opinion do you hold?

I don’t like football. I think it’s dangerous and exploitative.

What’s your next adventure?

I’m getting a piano today! I grew up playing competitively and used to practice every single day, but I haven’t played regularly since I was a teenager. I don’t know yet where it’s going to take me — will I just play for a few minutes a day, will I start teaching lessons, will I play for people’s weddings, will I compose? I’m excited to find out.
Video music credit: “Prelude No. 1” by Johann Sebastian Bach | Performed by Christina Bryza