Galen Floyd Interview (MP3 format)

Interview with Galen Floyd
Student/Ex-Graphics Editor
By Rina Diep and Aurielle Branch

Rina: Hello, my name is Rina Diep. Today, it is my pleasure to interview Galen Floyd at the Washington Council of the Blind. What is your job title?

Galen: Well, right now, I am a college student. I am planning to go back into journalism as a reporter/editor, building on a career as a graphics editor with newspapers for about 27 years.

Rina: What made you think of this career choice?

Galen: About three years ago, my vision went downhill, and I could no longer perform my job. There is no assistive technology to help you do graphics work. You have to have good eyes, and it was a matter of getting re-trained and finding a career that I could build on what I’d done before. And so the way to go seemed to be to build on working with reporters and editors, well why not go back to writing and editing? So now I have to work on getting some articles written, news clips, so I have something to show. It’s no longer the portfolio, it’s the news clips.

Rina: Did you have any other jobs before you chose what career you wanted to get into now?

Galen: Let me think back. In high school, during the summers, I worked for a publishing company doing illustration work, and I also worked as a teacher’s assistant for a reading program with kids who had difficulty reading.

Rina: Are you a full-time student?

Galen: I’m pretty much a full-time student, and I’m doing it by correspondence. And with my vision changing so much within the last three years, since I started school, I’ve had to change how I handle textbooks. I’ve gone from using a magnifying glass to a closed-circuit TV, to now I’m getting books on tape. So I’m kind of making the adjustment, and we’ll see where it goes from here.

Rina: So are there any other accommodations you have at the school?

Galen: I’m getting one-on-one computer training from the Department of Services for the Blind using ZoomText, becoming familiar with the Windows environment (I’m a MAC person, so this is all new to me). I’m particularly excited about learning Access, which is dealing with databases, because that is a computer skill that is going to make you stand out in any newsroom.

Rina: Did you have after-school or summer jobs when you were a teenager?

Galen: Yes I did. I did the baby-sitting routine, and like I mentioned before, I worked for a publishing company and also as a teacher’s assistant, but I never got to wear a bunny suit or anything cool like that.

Rina: So how did you find those jobs?

Galen: Basically through school, through teachers. I was always drawing, and I was getting in trouble for drawing caricatures of the faculty, and so I kind of got a reputation for that.

Rina: What do you like about the career choice that you’ve chosen now?

Galen: Working with reporters and editors and photographers, I learned I really love working on the stories because you’re part of a team, and you see how the story develops, the angle may change as you go along, but you’re trying to think ahead as to the end product. When it comes out in the newspaper, what kind of graphics are you going to need or what visuals will support the headline? And I really enjoy working in the newsroom, it’s better than TV.

Rina: So is there anything that you don’t like about it?

Galen: Probably dealing with people’s egos. The newsroom can be a little volatile at times, people get pretty heated arguments, that I didn’t care for.

Aurielle: Okay, my name’s Elle. Do you think your personality is a good match for the job you want to pursue?

Galen: I believe so. You know, I’ve worked with reporters and editors, and I love finding out information, I’m insatiably curious about things, and I don’t give up easily, and I love going for the story, it’s a little bit of an adrenaline rush, and I’m a little bit competitive. I love finding that edge and try to make a difference.

Aurielle: How would you go about getting to work?

Galen: I’ll be using probably the metro bus system. Next year when I start at the UDUB, I’ll be using the metro bus system, and that’s my plan for now. We’ll see how my eyesight holds out.

Aurielle: What do you find most difficult as a college student rather than like high school, where you have a visual teacher person to help. Is there special things you have to do at your college to get help?

Galen: Well, because I’m doing it by correspondence, I’m on my own. So I have to be very self-motivated, and there’s a lot of reading, which is really hard. I’m using the tapes and taking notes, but I do miss the classroom interaction, and I know that there’s assistive technology that could help you read the board if you needed to. I have no problem with asking the teacher to sit in the front, so I don’t think that would be a problem.

Aurielle: How did you decide the accommodations that you needed?

Galen: As I went along, I generally fight having to accommodate, I want to do it the old fashioned way, the way I did it before, but you get to a point where it’s not working for you. And so I’ll have a talk with my counselor and sit and let her know what’s going on, and we’ll determine a course of action.

Aurielle: When you start your job after college, how are you going to let your employer know that you have visual problems?

Galen: By the time they meet me, they will have looked at my resume, they will have looked at my clips, the stories I’ve worked on, so they’re gonna have an idea of what I can do before they ever meet me. And so I have no problem going to an interview with the cane and probably dispelling their preconceptions if they have them. It seems like in my life, I’ve always been put in a spot where I’m out to prove who I am. You know, sighted people have to prove who they are, that they’re capable, so it’s no different than that. It’s just one little hurdle extra.

Aurielle: And are you, do you feel comfortable with the people that you’re gonna work with knowing and if they ask you something about it, do you care if you tell them about it or anything?

Galen: You know, three years ago, I would have told you it would have been very difficult. The last people I wanted to let know about my visual problems were my co-workers in the newsroom, ’cause reporters and editors can be really verbally caustic and critical, and that was my biggest fear, and yet I couldn’t have been more wrong. They were so supportive of me when I finally explained what was taking place, I was going to have to have eye surgery, and they would be seeing me use a cane. I’m glad I did it that way and found out I was wrong about my co-workers. So whoever I meet in the future, we’ll deal with that at that time.

Aurielle: So, well, thank you for your interview. And in closing, do you have any advice for the blind and visually impaired that will help them to decide on a career in the future?

Galen: Well, I think what you’re doing here is really awesome because no matter what you go into, you’re going to have to have good interview skills. If you go into an interview, you’re going to be interviewing them as much as they’re interviewing you. Do your homework ahead of time, know a little bit about the company, because it’s a hard process to go through, and if you end up working for somebody that misrepresented themselves, well, then you’re in a bad situation. So ask the good questions, ask the hard questions, and go prepared.

Aurielle: Thank you for taking your time to let us interview you.

Interview taken at the Washington State Council of the Blind Convention, November 2006.

Interview provided by Jack Straw Productions, Arts and Visually Impaired Audiences, Washington State Council of the Blind and the Child and Family Program of the Washington State Department of Services for the Blind.
Copyright © Jack Straw Productions 2006.