Name: Jenna Ray
College & Majors/Minors: University of Minnesota, Morris; English, Theatre Arts, Multicultural Studies
Current Location: Morris, Minnesota
Current Form of Employment: Writer/Editor
Where do you work and what is your current position?
I’m the writer/editor in the communications office at the University of Minnesota, Morris, which means I provide content for and drive production of the college’s print and digital news and publications.
Tell us about how you found your first job, and how you found your current job (if different).
In my experience, finding a job is all about identifying and selling the skills you’ve gained as an undergrad or employee. My first job out of school was in early childhood education; I got it by claiming that my academic background would enable me to hold a preschool class’s attention and—as an added bonus—to write the parent newsletter. I landed my next/current job by arguing that my degree, combined with my previous work experience, had given me the writing, editing, management, and collaboration skills I’d need to take on the role of campus storyteller. It also didn’t hurt that I had been a standout student at Morris two years earlier.
What was another writing-related job that was important in your career?
I’m really lucky, because I didn’t have an official writing job prior to my current one. I did write and publish whenever I got the chance, though, even if it was just for a personal blog or a small underground newspaper. They might not have been the most impressive publications, but they gave me a chance to practice my craft and to put together a portfolio, which was what I needed to land a full-time gig.
What did you do in college to prepare for your post-grad life?
I was fortunate in that I didn’t have to work to support myself in college (thank you, scholarship donors!), so I was able to get involved in lots of student orgs and still finish three majors. I wasn’t totally sure what I wanted to do once I graduated, and I knew I might struggle to find a good job with a humanities B.A., so I did everything I could to stand out academically and practically. Being involved helped me develop real-world leadership, management, and communication skills I could take with me into the workforce.
What is your advice for students and graduates with an English degree?
Be open to new ideas and opportunities. Have the courage to work a day job while you pursue your passions at night. Know that what you’re doing today can be leveraged to help you do what you want tomorrow. Trust that the value of your English degree is so much bigger than whatever job it lands you.
Take a look at Jenna's writing at morris.umn.edu/newevents.com, and positively.com/author/jennaray. You can also connect with Jenna through LinkedIn.