Name: Callie Person
College & Majors/Minors: East Carolina University, BA in English Literature
Current Location: Tallahassee, FL
Current Form of Employment: Student Financial Specialist
Where do you work and what is your current position?
I work full-time at Florida State University as a student financial specialist in the business office.
Tell us about how you found your first job, and how you found your current job (if different).
My first job out of college was as a receptionist/administrative assistant that I was lucky to have found through a friend of a friend who needed someone fast. I performed a variety of duties; editing and creating the company’s monthly newsletter, drafting employee handbook documents for employees, and communicating with vendors to ensure operations continued to run smoothly. My ability to communicate effectively even allowed me the opportunity to become the primary point of contact/account manager for our business’ telecommunications provider. My English degree prepared me during school in such a way that learning how to effectively communicate and be able to read and write professionally was a valuable skill that past and future employers looked for, and were lucky to recognize it in me that I was offered the job.
The skills I learned in my first job allowed me to transition to my new position as a student financial specialist with fairly relative ease. In my new position, I counsel students and parents on their rights and responsibilities as borrowers for their student loans. I assist them in making payment plans and lifting holds on their accounts. I’m responsible for drafting and sending letters to borrowers so they don’t fall behind on payments and risk not being able to register for classes. Again, being able to effectively and professionally communicate is key, a valuable skill that my English degree taught me.
What was another writing-related job that was important in your career?
Creating and editing the company’s newsletter at my previous job really helped hone my editing skills and allowed me the opportunity to work on projects within the corporate workforce that I knew would prove vital in gaining the necessary experience to put on a resume.
What did you do in college to prepare for your post-grad life?
I took several literature and communication courses that prepared me on how to write and speak professionally. Many employers look for employees that can do these things, and it is a skill that many lack.
What is your advice for students and graduates with an English degree?
My favorite English professor once told me that employers love people who can read and write well, so that piece of advice is something I’ve always taken to heart. As long as I could do these two things, I’d have no trouble in finding a job. To this day, I’ve been consistently employed full-time and enjoy my work. I will continue to be a full-time employee while pursuing my graduate degree part-time.
I would say to anybody with an English degree or who is thinking about pursuing English as a degree, go for it! An English degree is so much vaster and broad these days than what it used to be; there are several career opportunities out there, you will never be bored! At the end of the day, you should do what makes you happy, and if English is what you love and enjoy, pursue it.