Name: Taylor Marshall
College & Majors/Minors: The University of Akron, Bachelor of Arts in English with a minor in Creative Writing
Current Location: Columbus, OH
Current Form of Employment: Healthcare/Guest Relations
Where do you work and what is your current position?
I work at the Ohio State Wexner Medical Center as a Patient Experience Coordinator. I act as a liaison between patients, nurses, and physicians. I meet with patients and their care teams daily to ensure consistent communication during their hospitalization and also handle the coordination of outpatient concerns and questions. I like to think of myself as “the peace keeper” of the hospital.
Tell us about how you found your first job, and how you found your current job (if different).
Life after the routine of college was a challenging adjustment. Even before I crossed the stage at graduation, I applied to countless jobs that only followed with rejection. I moved back home to Youngstown (the armpit of Ohio) and was ready to take any job if it meant moving and starting somewhere new. After eight months of constantly adjusting cover letters, sending resumes, and the same bleak responses of, “we have decided to pursue other candidates…”, I decided to swallow my pride and accept a call center job in Columbus that my cousin said he could get me in. I was hesitant, anxious, and depressed, but anything was better than sitting at home and I was eager to feel like a productive member of society again.
I endured nine months at the call center, and relentlessly searched job postings on lunch breaks and after work. I found my current job at Ohio State Wexner Medical Center posted on their career’s webpage. To be honest, I had no idea what a Patient Experience Coordinator even was, but I applied anyway since it sounded interesting enough.
I remember making it to the second round of the interview process. The two nursing administrators were questioning me about my English degree, and were happily intrigued by it. When I did get hired, my manager told me that over two hundred people, even folks already within the health system applied for my position and they still ended up choosing me, the English major. Hearing that was the proudest I’ve ever felt about myself. I reflected on the moments of self-doubt, replaying people’s words of, “you’ll get nowhere with that field of study” and all the ridicule that came along with it. But here I am, two years later still working at the hospital and truly loving what I do.
What was another writing-related job that was important in your career?
My current job is the only full-time position that has actually been reliant on my degree. I haven’t jumped around to anything else, and as it turns out I really enjoy working in healthcare. I would say that studying English is what really helped mold me before I stepped into the workforce. The creative writing courses gave way to a whole new appreciation for being vulnerable and accepting constructive criticism. The professors I had always chose diverse reading materials so it was interesting to gain insight to different cultural experiences and perspectives. There were plenty of discussions and applied critical thinking, and as it turns out, healthcare is the perfect field for those skills to thrive in.
What did you do in college to prepare for your post-grad life?
Is it okay to say probably not enough, but everything still ended up turning out fine? I’ve always been an extremely indecisive person. I switched my major three times in college, with English of course being the final decision, and by then I was already in my third year. Most of my peers were applying to grad school, or hunting down writing internships, but I was happy as a clam working my student assistant job in the university’s archives and enjoying my classes. It’s really hard to try and decide what you want to do for work the rest of your life when you’re only 22. I often thought about the fig tree scene in Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar, and imagined all the different life paths I could travel down. Looking back at it now, I don’t think there are any steps I could have taken to prepare me for the post-grad life changes and the work/life balance of a full-time job. The comfortable routine of classes, seeing my friends every day, and knowing what to expect each semester greatly differs from my current work of responding to hospital codes to check on distraught family members, holding difficult conversations due to disruptive behavior or unfavorable news, and other real-world scenarios that I wasn’t able to experience inside a classroom.
What is your advice for students and graduates with an English degree?
Do not let what you study define your or anyone else’s expectations of what you are going to do with the rest of your life. I wasted incredibly too much time worrying and comparing my degree to others (I had a ton of friends in the STEM field), instead of seeing its advantages. Take the time to explore any of your interests, even if they are outside of what you’re studying. It’s okay to not know what you want to do—there are a lot of jobs that I came across that I had no idea even existed (like mine!) and it might take a few to find out which one fits you best. But most importantly, just getting out there and talking to people is greatly beneficial—become a “yes” person! Meet your friends out, join a group, or attend events going on in your area. You never know what new connections you might create just by doing so. As an English major, you already have a solid foundation of communication skills—you’re the chameleon of the job market and I promise you’ll be able to adapt in any environment you immerse yourself in. Life is strange, but embrace it kindly with an open mind and a listening ear—you’ll be surprised of things you will learn.