Name: McKenzie McCormack
College & Majors/Minors: University of Washington, B.A. in English Language & Literature
Current Location: Olympia, WA
Current Form of Employment: Communications Consultant
Where do you work and what is your current position?
I work for the Washington State Health Care Authority (HCA), most people don’t know what that is, so here’s the synopsis:
“The Washington State Health Care Authority purchases health care for more than 2 million Washington residents through two programs — Washington Apple Health (Medicaid) and the Public Employees Benefits Board (PEBB) Program. We work with partners to help ensure Washingtonians have access to better health and better care at a lower cost.”
I am a Communications Consultant for HCA’s Health Information Technology team! I do a lot of the writing for the team, create deliverable materials, proofread and edit, manage the website, and answer email inquiries.
Tell us about how you found your first job, and how you found your current job (if different).
My FIRST job was working on a farm as a berry picker when I was 11, however, my first influential job out of college was working for the Washington State Senate. I was working as a barista at a small coffee shop and as a cashier at REI when I found the Senate job on indeed.com. I applied thinking it would be a long shot and was beyond surprised when they invited me for an interview. I worked for one session, and then decided I wanted to try state work, so I applied for a handful of jobs through careers.wa.gov and ended up in my current position.
What was another writing-related job that was important in your career?
This is my first writing-related job, but when I was in college I was a spoken-word poet and it taught me so many different things that helped shape me into who I am today. Writing and performing poetry taught me how to use language in a creative and powerful way, and it taught me to speak with confidence. I definitely used these skills in writing cover letters, in interviews, and in my day-to-day work.
What did you do in college to prepare for your post-grad life?
I was constantly in the Career Adviser’s office discussing different paths I could take with my degree, I attended job fairs just to get an idea of what was out there for English majors, and I signed up for the English department’s listserv (they sent out job listings, internships, workshops, etc.).
What is your advice for students and graduates with an English degree?
Be confident! Apply for that job even if you don’t think you will get it—the worst they can do is say “no.” Be bold with your cover letters, and put some passion in there—employers want to know that you care. Be patient; you might be a barista for a while, and that’s fine. Keep an open mind; chances are you won’t land a publishing job right out of school, but you might land a pretty neat communications job with a state agency. You are talented, you are smart, you are an English major!