Name: Hayley Crowell Curry
College & Majors/Minors: I attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and graduated with honors and highest distinction in 2013 with a double major in English and Spanish and a minor in creative writing. If anyone reading this is interested in studying creative writing, UNC's undergraduate program is one of the best in the country. I grew tremendously as a writer and as a human being from the education I received there. Two years after graduation, I am still in touch with several of my professors!
Current Location: Winston-Salem, NC
Current Form of Employment: Full-time job in television and digital advertising sales
Where do you work and what is your current position?
I work at WXLV ABC45 and WMYV My48 TV, which are two TV stations in one building. I sell television and digital advertising/marketing, which can basically be broken down into two distinct roles: 1. Getting new local direct business, aka working with local business owners on their marketing to help them grow their businesses and 2. Working with media buyers/advertising agencies for bigger clients like fast food restaurants, furniture stores, etc. to place their planned TV schedules on my stations. In my spare time, I continue to pursue my love of fiction writing (my college honors thesis was a short story collection) and various other writing opportunities.
Tell us about how you found your first job, and how you found your current job (if different).
Towards the end of my college career, I developed an interest in marketing and advertising. This interest was partially spurred by an intro to advertising and public relations course that I took at UNC during my senior year and partially by an internship that I did in the promotions department of a radio station in my hometown of Charlotte, NC. I knew I didn't want to be a teacher (Side note: I have the utmost admiration for what teachers do - they are basically like superheroes. Teaching just isn't my particular gift!) and I knew I wanted to move to the area where I now live, so I started searching very early for my first job. I first began applying to jobs in October of my senior year, and I applied to anything and everything in this area that I found remotely interesting. I found my first job posted on UNC's career services job board, Careerolina. As I went through the interview process, I was attracted to the fact that I wouldn't have to spend all day stuck in a cubicle and that I could help people by growing their businesses. What ended up sealing the deal for me was the awesome people I would get to work for and the opportunity to make more money than most English majors would. In the end, I received my official job offer the day after I graduated, which was a huge relief. I'm still working in that same job over two years later. I've learned so much, but something I love about it is that every day brings a new learning opportunity.
What was another writing-related job that was important in your career?
In college, I interned for a local entrepreneur. I ran her social media accounts, coordinated her public relations efforts, and edited and proofread one of her books. This experience was a crash course in social media best practices as well as an opportunity for me to do a lot of self-directed independent work, a skill which has served me very well in my current role.
What did you do in college to prepare for your post-grad life?
A better question might be "What didn't you do to prepare for your post-grad life?" I took career tests at the career services center, took a for-credit class at the career center all about applying for jobs, considered going into law school and ultimately decided against it for the time being, completed two internships, and began my job search several months before I graduated. As you may be able to tell, I am rather Type-A and I love nothing more than a good action plan.
What is your advice for students and graduates with an English degree?
I have several pieces of advice for students who are majoring in English. First of all, make sure you're in this major because you truly do love it. If you're wanting a get-rich-quick path, this probably won't be it. Assuming you really do love your major, my next piece of advice would be to get to know your professors. They are an incredible resource for you because they can help you become a better reader and writer, can write you recommendations and/or serve as a reference later on, and they give some of the best advice out there. I had one professor who happened to be the head of the graduate studies English department. At the time that I was in her class, I was considering getting my PhD and pursuing a career in academia. I asked for her honest opinion about whether I should do it. I'll never forget what she told me: "This isn't an easy life. If there's something you think would be as much fun or more fun, go do that instead." After that conversation, I did a good bit of soul-searching and realized that academia wasn't my passion. It was much better to have discovered this fact before taking out student loans and committing to 6-7 more years of school! My other piece of advice for students is to supplement your experiences in the classroom with internships in fields that you find interesting. The reality of the "real world" is that employers will be looking for internships and/or work experience on your resume when you graduate. These experiences don't have to correlate precisely with your intended post-grad job, but it helps if they are related. More importantly, these experiences will help you figure out what you like doing and what you don't, which can be critical when it comes time to figure out your post-grad plans.
As for graduates, I would say to never believe that your English degree is inferior to any other degree. You will get the inevitable Starbucks jokes, and no, they never stop being irritating. But you have a wealth of marketable skills that can help you get a wide variety of jobs. If you want to be a teacher, writer, or editor, great! But if not, there's nothing wrong with you, and you do have a bright future in the workplace. It's all about how you can sell yourself in a cover letter and a job interview. It's a good thing your English major taught you how to communicate well, isn't it? For more on those transferable skills that an English major teaches you, be on the lookout for an article I'm writing for Dear English Major that should be on the site soon!