Name: Rebecca Andruszka
College & Majors/Minors: Eugene Lang College (New School for Social Research): English BA, 2001; Hunter College (City University of New York): English MA, 2007
Current Location: Denver, CO
Current Form of Employment: Director of Development & Communications, Denver Urban Gardens
Where do you work and what is your current position?
I just started working at Denver Urban Gardens as their chief fundraiser and media guru. My job is a mix of writing strategy (grants, solicitation letters, press releases, Facebook posts), and meeting people.
Tell us about how you found your first job, and how you found your current job (if different).
I got my first non-profit job thanks to volunteering. I was in a boring admin job for several years while I put myself through grad school and as I was finishing my thesis (well, THOUGHT I was finishing my thesis), I was looking for a more fulfilling job. Because I had volunteered at a few related organizations and could drop names of some people my future boss knew, I was hired to manage their small office.
What was another job that was important in your career?
All of my jobs taught me various lessons, but I think my experience in food service really helped me figure out how to work. You don’t rest when you are doing a restaurant job. If there are no customers, you do dishes. If there are no dishes, you dust liquor bottles, etc. I also really learned the importance of customer service and creating a positive vibe. That has helped me immeasurably as a fundraiser (and I always like to hire my fellow former-waiters and bartenders).
What did you do in college to prepare for your post-grad life?
Honestly, I didn’t do a thing! I was going to undergrad during the Internet boom and it seemed entirely likely that I could get hired at a completely ridiculous company with no skills. But the boom went bust my senior year and I was completely behind. I was too cool to go to the university seminar on writing cover letters, so I was banging out three-sentence emails and attaching my resume and wondering why no one was calling me. I didn’t learn how to properly apply to a job until I had three years of temping under my belt.
What is your advice for students and graduates with an English degree?
Unless you are going into something really specialized (like publishing or academia), your future boss doesn’t really care that you have an English degree. They care that you have A degree and that you hopefully have some related work/internship experience. The benefit of an English degree is that it is really easy to spin in different ways for the business world—it shows that you have superior communication skills and that is really important in most entry-level jobs.