March 29, 2023

Interview with Shanna Seesz, Class of 2022, Head of Content & Senior Science Writer at Invitae

MS in Professional Writing (MSPW) alum, Shanna Seesz, is currently Head of Content & Senior Science Writer at Invitae, a medical genetics company. In this role, Shanna leads the development of written marketing content for a wide variety of audiences, including clinicians (i.e., oncologists, Ob/Gyns, primary care providers), genetic experts, health systems executives and administrators, biopharma partners, and patients.

Q: Tell us about your Head of Content & Senior Science Writer role

A: As Invitae's lead writer, I translate highly complex concepts into easily digestible, jargon-free copy that doesn’t require a genetics background to understand. For a wide variety of audiences, I write copy that appears on flyers and brochures, blog posts, emails, websites, reports, case studies, video scripts, and more. As the Head of Content, I provide leadership, guidance, and strategic insight on all things editorial– driving and maintaining the brand voice for the company.

Q: What made you realize that writing was something you wanted to pursue professionally?

A: Deep down, I always knew; I just couldn't visualize what form my writing career would take. I've written fiction, nonfiction, and poetry throughout adulthood, but I worried that if I made writing a job, I'd stop being creative. In my years leading nonprofit fundraising, writing was always a part of my career trajectory and a major responsibility of mine. After I made the commitment to return to graduate school for an MS in Professional Writing, I eventually figured out that writing marketing materials, grants, reports, etc., required me to be creative and involved constant problem-solving. I was hooked. 

Q: Talk about how the MSPW helped shape who you are as a writing professional. Any specific mentors, books, or experiences that stand out?

A: The rigorous (and supportive) training I received through the MSPW made me adaptable, having trained across industries. Prior to the MSPW, I worked in nonprofits, book publishing, and small businesses. Midway through my grad degree, I started writing for healthcare. I didn't see my career trajectory heading this way, but I'm glad it did. Having expert communicators in the healthcare field is crucial in terms of patient access to technology and treatments that could impact their health. The course Medical and Healthcare Writing had a huge impact on me, especially reading Susan Sontag's "Illness as Metaphor and AIDS and Its Metaphors." I also learned so much from the courses Writing for Digital Media, Promotional Writing, and Digital and Organizational Storytelling. As far as the mechanics, the Style and Rhetoric class was invaluable.

Q: What advice would you give to a professional writer interested in a career like yours?

A: Know that you'll be doing a lot of research in order to understand your subjects. If you don't have a science background, that can be an advantage because many people with technical knowledge need help explaining topics to general audiences. However, you have to be comfortable saying, "I'm not a subject matter expert, so I'll be asking what might seem like dumb questions." You have a responsibility to your audience to ensure you're translating complex topics in easy-to-understand and accurate ways. That can require some pride swallowing, but you're the expert at your craft. Don't forget that! And make time for exercise/stretching throughout the day (there is a lot of sitting and typing every day).

Q: In your role and industry, how important is collaboration? With whom do you collaborate?

A: This role would be impossible without collaboration. I work with marketers, digital and product team members, genetic counselors, data scientists, physicians, and more. The designers are the people I work with the most to ensure all our materials are accessible, readable, and compelling. Editorial and design need each other to tell a story and solve problems, and when our work gets siloed, we run into problems. We're really one unit.

Q: What do you look for in assessing potential new hires?

A: Healthcare writing backgrounds are great, but individuals who are curious and know when to ask questions are vital. Those who want to figure things out and know they don't know everything are usually the best collaborators, in my experience. They thrive on feedback loops.


Thank you to Shanna Seesz for sharing her professional writing journey with us. 


To learn more about the MS in Professional Writing program at NYU School of Professional Studies, visit


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