Posts filed under Interview

Hannah Benefield: Academic Success Coordinator

Name: Hannah Benefield

Age: 24

College & Majors/Minors: BA Interdisciplinary Studies (Minor in English), MA English and Creative Writing

Current Location: Lakeland, FL

Current Form of Employment: Full-time Academic Success Coordinator at Southeastern University

Where do you work and what is your current position?

I work at Southeastern University as an Academic Success Coordinator for ACE, the learning center. In my role, I wear many hats: I hire, train, and manage the tutors for the learning center, create learning resources for our students, teach success workshops, tutor writing sessions, and function as the success coach for the wrestling team. I love every part of it!

Tell us about how you found your first job, and how you found your current job (if different).

When I was a few months away from graduation, I began searching for open positions at my university. I knew I loved academia and wanted to stay at Southeastern. I applied to be the Administrative Coordinator for the dean of Behavioral and Social Sciences and I got the job! I started less than a month after graduation. Even though I worked in a totally different department than my background, I learned so much about what the role of “professor” really looks like and developed administrative skills that made it possible for me to take on my current position.

I actually worked at ACE as a writing tutor in my undergrad! I still had a relationship with the Academic Success Coordinator who came before me (my former boss), so when she decided to move on, she suggested that I apply to replace her. I did and waited a few grueling months for an interview. I got the job only a few weeks before the school year began. One crazy year later, I am in love with my constantly changing and expanding job. My coworkers are dedicated, hardworking, and committed to our student’s success, which makes what I do that much more fun.

What was another writing-related job that was important in your career?

As I mentioned, I worked as a writing tutor when I was finishing my BA which really set me up for where I am now and where I am heading. Not only did I develop my proofreading and editing skills but I also learned how to teach those skills to the students that I worked with. These skills have been invaluable as I’ve grown in my career.

What did you do in college to prepare for your post-grad life?

Think of your long-term goal and then find ways to start developing the skills you need in order to get there. Even if you’re in a job that isn’t necessarily “in the field,” practice your skills where you’re at and learn how to market them!

I got involved in as many skill-building and career related activities as a possible! I worked as a tutor, joined a poetry group, served as an editor for the university’s literary journal, participated in open mics and other poetry reading events, freelanced as an editor, and developed relationships with my English professors. College is the best time to get involved and start to make connections and develop skills.

For me, so many good opportunities and relationships continue to come out of those experiences.

What is your advice for students and graduates with an English degree?

Think of your long-term goal and then find ways to start developing the skills you need in order to get there. Even if you’re in a job that isn’t necessarily “in the field,” practice your skills where you’re at and learn how to market them!

Become a perpetual student and always be looking for new resources and new ways to get better at your craft. Be strategic with your hobbies, activities, and opportunities. Just as importantly, say yes to opportunities when they arise. Then write a killer resume or CV to highlight all of the skills that your English degree and extracurriculars equipped you with!

You can follow Hannah on Pinterest and connect with her on LinkedIn.


Posted on January 26, 2018 and filed under Teaching, Teacher, English Major Stories, Interviews, Interview.

Sara Kincaid: Manager of Philanthropic Communications

Name: Sara Kincaid

Age: 33

College & Majors/Minors: University of Missouri-Kansas City; B.A. English – Creative Writing (Minor in Classics); M.A. English – Literature

Current Location: Kansas City, Missouri

Current Form of Employment: Manager of Philanthropic Communications at Children’s Mercy Kansas City

Where do you work and what is your current position?

I just started my new job in the Philanthropy department at Children’s Mercy Kansas City. Children’s Mercy was founded in 1897 by two sisters who dreamed of opening a hospital that took care of all children. Children’s Mercy still lives by this creed today and turns no child away, regardless of their family’s ability to pay. There are few people in Kansas City who have not been touched in some way by this award-winning hospital, myself included.

In my role, I am responsible for helping the various parts of our department (major gifts, planned giving, donor recognition, special events, etc.) communicate with our donors, potential donors and volunteers. I write endowed report updates, content for event programs, call scripts for our donor thank-a-thon, thank-you letters and more. I also edit invitations, programs and a myriad of other content. I work across print, web and digital communication methods to help tell the story of Children’s Mercy and its patients.

Tell us about how you found your first job, and how you found your current job (if different).

I didn’t get my first full-time job until 2011. I graduated with my Master’s degree right as the recession hit (2008) and there were no jobs anywhere. It took three years of submitting resumes and cover letters with no results. In spite of this, I kept trying.

My first job was at Hallmark Cards. Yeah, that Hallmark Cards. They’re headquartered here in KC! I applied via their website and got a phone call. Their HR department is pretty traditional. They love behavioral style interviewing, just FYI. I did a phone interview first with HR. Then, I went in for a round of in-person interviews and a writing/editing/InDesign test. And then, I got the job! I worked for three years producing business-to-business sales catalogs. I got to work with every product/card line that the company produces. I had a lot of fun there.

“Every job I’ve ever interviewed for has required some sort of writing test or project, by the way. So, be prepared for that.”

Fast-forward to 2017. A former colleague from my previous job (post Hallmark, pre Children’s Mercy) reached out to me via Facebook and urged me to apply for a job with Children’s Mercy. I applied on their website and was contacted later and asked to do a writing project. (Every job I’ve ever interviewed for has required some sort of writing test or project, by the way. So, be prepared for that.)

I went in twice for a series of interviews and then was offered the job! My best advice from this experience is: you never know who’s watching. The person who urged me to apply for the job, as I mentioned, was a colleague at my last gig, but we didn’t really interact much. I think I did one or two projects for her before she left. I was surprised and flattered that she reached out!

What was another writing-related job that was important in your career?

My previous job at the University of Missouri-Kansas City was pivotal. Switching from the for-profit sector to the nonprofit sector can be tough. There’s a lot of skepticism of people who make that switch. But being an alumna and having really good references helped me land the job.

"The first local bookstore that accepted my book and put it on their shelf!"

"The first local bookstore that accepted my book and put it on their shelf!"

At UMKC, I began to learn the nonprofit ropes. I wrote letters for the chancellor and the vice chancellor, produced newsletters, wrote articles, video content and event scripts, managed multiple websites, ran the alumni association’s social media and anything else they threw my way. This job is absolutely the reason why I got my current position. I learned so much about stewardship and the nonprofit style of communication. Plus, I met important colleagues who educated me and helped me prepare for my ultimate next step.

What did you do in college to prepare for your post-grad life?

Internships were very important for me and taught me a lot about how the working world functioned. I did two internships, one in undergrad and one in grad school. The first was at a local PR firm. The second was with Andrews McMeel Publishing in their PR department. In these positions, I got my first few writing samples for my portfolio.

What is your advice for students and graduates with an English degree?

I went into the “business” world and not education simply because every time I told someone what I was majoring in they’d ask me (as we’ve all heard): “Oh, so what are you going to do? Teach?” While I love educators and have great respect for them, those questions made me determined to prove that there were many things I could do.

If you’re an English major and you want to work in the “business” world, you have to be prepared to fight. I’ve had to fight hard for every job I’ve ever had. Maybe people in other fields and with other degrees feel this way too. I don’t know. But, from the writing tests to get my foot in the door, to getting opportunities once I’m there, I’ve had to fight, network, volunteer for extra projects and make my voice heard every step of the way. Often people won’t understand the things that we English majors know we bring to the table without us telling them. They think all we do is read novels all day. While that may be true in some respect, we bring our analytical skills, writing skills, a great vocabulary, passion, discourse skills and more. You have to be your own advocate and your own spokesperson out there. No one else will do it for you.

You can check out Sara's blog, Writer vs. the World, here. To learn more about Children's Mercy Kansas City, click here. You can also connect with Sara on LinkedIn.


Posted on January 26, 2018 and filed under English Major Stories, Interview, Interviews, Communications.

Lauren Pope: Marketing & Communications Associate

Name: Lauren Pope

Age: 26

College & Majors/Minors: English Literature / Creative Writing

Current Location: Kansas City, MO

Current Form of Employment: Marketing & Communications Associate

Where do you work and what is your current position?

I’m currently the marketing and communications associate for a non-profit organization here in Kansas City. I work closely with the Director of Advancement to ensure the integrity of our brand, as well as manage and create all of the marketing materials. I work in both traditional and digital media maintaining the website and social media accounts and writing stories about our donors.

My favorite thing about marketing is that every day is like working a different job. It’s nice for someone like me who is creative and free-thinking to have a different task or project every day. One day I’m writing copy for our direct mailers and the next I’m visiting the Kansas City Ballet to write a story on our Youth Advisory Council. You never know what you’re going to walk into and I find that thrilling.

“I found the opportunity on LinkedIn. In fact, I found all three of my jobs I’ve had since graduation on LinkedIn.”

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 social media strategist with a small marketing company in St. Louis, MO. I found the opportunity on LinkedIn. In fact, I found all three of my jobs I’ve had since graduation on LinkedIn. It’s an amazing resource that allows you to put yourself in front of employers you might not dream of working for otherwise.

Last year I picked up and moved to Chicago on a whim after getting an offer with a University to run their social media accounts. Now I’m in charge of all of the marketing efforts at my current position. LinkedIn is a great way to market yourself and tailor your experience to get the job you want. Put those writing skills to use! If your LinkedIn isn’t reflecting your ability to write and tell a story about yourself, you’re not doing yourself any favors.

What was another writing-related job that was important in your career?

I was a freelance copywriter and editor for a year after graduation. It helped me keep my skills sharp while I was looking for work. It’s more appealing to employers if you have work experience while you’re looking for a job as opposed to having a gap in your work history. It shows initiative. It also adds a layer of expertise to your work that employers will love. You can be a writer and an editor and employers love that because they’re getting two skillsets in one person.

“Your degree can get you in the door but your internship experience can get you a seat at the table.”

My internship with Fleishman-Hillard in St. Louis was probably my most beneficial experience. I had no marketing experience after graduating but was hired as the marketing intern because of my ability to write. I spent six months learning about marketing and specializing in social and digital media which helped launch me into my first full time job after college. Your degree can get you in the door but your internship experience can get you a seat at the table.

What did you do in college to prepare for your post-grad life?

I researched! Nobody told me growing up about all of the career paths an English degree can lead to. You go through college with everyone making jokes that you’re going to end up being a bartender or a teacher and it can be frustrating. But there are so many avenues you can go down with this degree. I spent my time deciding what I liked about being an English major and deciding how I could turn it into a career.

Publishing, editing, ghost-writing, copywriting, social media, marketing, HR, internal communications, PR and crisis management, law school; there are so many things you can do. Find the thing that speaks to you and then find an internship in that field.

“The ability to write concisely and creatively will open so many doors.”

You can keep your English degree and work in a field unrelated to what you did in school. I believe firmly that an English degree teaches critical thinking, writing ability and creativity and those are all things that every employer is looking for. The ability to write concisely and creatively will open so many doors. Don’t let the fear of not being employable after graduation steer you off this path.

What is your advice for students and graduates with an English degree?

Internships: Experience will get you everywhere. Look at your English department website and see what they offer students. Contact local businesses and see if there are openings that interest you. Check out LinkedIn and see if there are volunteer opportunities that can help beef up your resume. No experience is bad experience. I interned in publishing for my entire last year of college and didn’t end up in publishing. But that experience still interested my future employers and the work I did there helped me later in my other internships and jobs.

Apply for Jobs You Don't Feel Qualified For: I applied to jobs that I was perfectly qualified for and sometimes over qualified for without hearing anything back. Once I decided to expand my job search I was given so many opportunities I'd never dreamed of. A lot of companies will ask for more experience than the job actually requires so don't be afraid to apply with less experience than they ask. It's about the skills you can bring to a position, not the number of years you've spent behind a desk. Even if you don't get the job, you will gain experience in interviewing. The more you interview the more comfortable you'll become with selling your skills as an English major to companies that might not have considered the value of having one on their team!

Have Writing Samples Ready: If you're going to say you're a writer, be ready to prove it. Write articles on your LinkedIn page, keep and maintain a blog. Any writing is good writing. I landed my first internship after sending in my senior creative writing piece about a murder mystery! The man interviewing me said that the sample was unorthodox but he liked that I showed creativity and the depth of my writing ability. You may even consider creating an online portfolio of your writing samples to have ready if employers ask for it.

Stay Focused: It's easy to get beaten down by the rhetoric you hear from people about an English degree. I found myself questioning why I had chosen an English degree a dozen times in undergrad. But if you're focused and determined to be successful, it will work out. Keep your head down, work hard and set yourself up for life after graduation.


Posted on November 8, 2017 and filed under Communications, Interview, Interviews, Marketing.

Callie Person: Student Financial Specialist

Name: Callie Person

Age: 26

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.

“...Being able to effectively and professionally communicate is key, a valuable skill that my English degree taught me.”

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.

You can purchase a copy of Callie's first published novel, Unnatural, here. You can also connect with Callie on LinkedIn.


Posted on July 15, 2017 and filed under Interviews, Interview.

Kyle Hendricks: Marketing and Communications Coordinator

Name: Kyle Hendricks

Age: 28

College & Majors/Minors: Major - English, Minor - Psychology

Current Location: Columbus, Indiana

Current Form of Employment: Full Time

Where do you work and what is your current position?

I am the Marketing and Communications Coordinator for the United Way of Bartholomew County. I work closely with our Director of Resource Development on all of our donor communications and fundraising efforts to ensure that we are not just asking people to donate to United Way, but giving them opportunities all year long to engage and participate in the work of United Way and our partner nonprofit agencies in our community.

My daily duties vary but usually involve writing, editing, copywriting, graphic design, managing online platforms, social media, stewarding community relationships, speaking or giving presentations, and developing long term strategies for how all of these skills work together to help United Way raise money to help people in need.

Tell us about how you found your first job, and how you found your current job (if different).

“There is a similar story to every job I have found my way into—I made a personal connection with someone without trying to sell myself. I developed our relationship over time and reached out when I had questions or ideas.”

After graduating college I was bartending at a local spot in my hometown. One day a professor came in for a beer and we started up a conversation. He was starting a new design program in town and we had a good talk on art and literature. He left that day and we kept in touch. I reached out not long after to see if he needed any help with his program and it turns out that he did. I started off working part time at this design space, running errands and doing some low end administrative work (all while still waiting tables in the evenings). I went on to work with him on a national architecture conference and direct some educational videos that were made specifically for that project. My work with the design program gave me the small professional experience and finished products I needed to get me started on a career path in professional communications. 

There is a similar story to every job I have found my way into—I made a personal connection with someone without trying to sell myself. I developed our relationship over time and reached out when I had questions or ideas. I took their advice and explored to learn how new opportunities they presented could help me grow.

What was another writing-related job that was important in your career?

I did an internship with a public relations agency in Indianapolis where I split my time promoting regional events and concerts and running book release campaigns for independent authors. This internship taught me important skills on the job, like how to write press releases, ad copy and online content. Every professional communications position that I have applied for has asked me for professional writing samples, and this internship gave me plenty experience and examples to use on my job search.

“If I had to do it over again, I would have worked more closely with my adviser to find a professional internship before graduation and I would have supplemented my class load with a few journalism and business classes.”

What did you do in college to prepare for your post-grad life?

I'll be honest—aside from showing up to class and doing the work, I did not do much in college to prepare me for my current career. I took the route of an English major because I wanted to learn how to get to the root of stories and how the great ones were created. I was exploring art, poetry and literature as I'm sure a lot of you reading this have explored in your time at school. Those pursuits gave me incredible experiences, an invaluable worldview, eyes, ears, heart and mind for good storytelling, and some hard writing skills. I learned how to be an artist in school, but I did not learn how to focus my skills in a way that allowed me to make a living. That came after graduation in all of the experiences I mention above (and many more less successful tries) over the past six years.

If I had to do it over again, I would have worked more closely with my adviser to find a professional internship before graduation and I would have supplemented my class load with a few journalism and business classes.

“Every office needs some form of a good writer, so you have a good start, but you’ll need other skills to fully develop your attractiveness to potential employers after school.”

What is your advice for students and graduates with an English degree?

1) If you're still in school, get some professional experience before you burst out of the academic cocoon. No matter what path you take you will need to learn things in a professional setting that you can't learn in a book or in a classroom or by waiting tables. Talk to your advisers about opportunities that you can connect to on campus or explore internships that your school may know about. Talk to your family members and friends about their jobs and work to see if you can find some things that interest you about those particular businesses or organizations. Every office needs some form of a good writer, so you have a good start, but you'll need other skills to fully develop your attractiveness to potential employers after school.

Don't sweat if you are already graduated and still need this experience. If you're a graduate and you haven't done any of the above, just start now! There is always time to learn. I didn't start my first true internship until I was 24.

2) Graduation is just another step in your growth process—it does not determine your employment or even your career path. You determine your employment and career by how you use your time, talents and energy after graduation. All of these tools are flexible, and deciding not to explore them to the best of your ability is a choice within itself.

3) Always value your relationships over your resources and ambitions. Like I said, every good job I have had started by making a personal connection with someone without trying to sell myself as a potential employee. Build your network consciously but not selfishly. I know this is hard when you are unemployed and can't seem to find a break, but if you stay patient and friendly you will find those connections, too.

4) Keep learning; you don't yet know all you need to know to do your job well. No matter where you are going, you will need to pick up new tools and skills to progress or even just to keep up. Sometimes those skills are hard skills—like figuring out how to code a website. Other times those skills are softer—like learning how to relate to and work with your older co-workers. Stay open to new experiences and stay kind through the rejections and tough lessons.

Along with learning, find resources that you can keep coming back to for personal inspiration and growth. A few that I visit weekly are the Creative Pep Talk podcast, hosted by Andy Miller, and The Daily Stoic, a project spearheaded by Ryan Holiday.

5) Wherever you are geographically, get involved in the community you live in. Volunteering is the easiest way to make a positive impact for others while also building your skills and relationships. Find the people you are passionate about helping and go find the group or organization that's helping them. If there isn't a group or organization in your area helping people you care about, then build one yourself. Making positive contributions to others will help you through your harder days by giving you a different perspective on your struggles and also increases your value to potential employers by showing them that you care enough about your community to get involved.

You can connect with Kyle on LinkedIn or reach out to him directly at kyhendricks (at) gmail (dot) com.


Posted on July 14, 2017 and filed under Interviews, Interview, Communications, Marketing.

Kristina DeMichele: Senior Email Content Marketing Coordinator

Name: Kristina DeMichele

Age: 27

College & Majors/Minors: BA English & Spanish, University of Dayton; MA Publishing and Writing, Emerson College

Current Location: Boston, MA

Current Form of Employment: Senior Email Content Marketing Coordinator, America’s Test Kitchen

Where do you work and what is your current position? 

I work at America’s Test Kitchen as a Senior Email Content Marketing Coordinator. America’s Test Kitchen films two cooking shows for PBS (America’s Test Kitchen and Cook’s Country). We also publish Cook’s Illustrated magazine, Cook’s Country magazine, and many cookbooks. My role there is to manage the entire email newsletter program. I write most all of our newsletters (6 out of the 7), conduct creative tests, analyze the data, and contribute to the overall marketing strategy. I write about food every day, and I love my job!

Tell us about how you found your first job, and how you found your current job (if different). 

I went straight to graduate school after undergrad, and I interned at a few publishing companies—Da Capo Press in their marketing department, Pearson Education in their rights department (I requested rights from Stephen King/Stephen King’s people once, which was pretty cool!). Then I heard that my colleague at Emerson’s writing center (I worked as a writing tutor there) landed a job as an Editorial Assistant at America’s Test Kitchen. I love cooking and I love publishing, so this company felt like such a perfect fit for me as a workplace. I had coffee with her, and she recommended that I apply for the social media internship. I applied, and her recommendation helped me get an interview and ultimately be offered the position. On the last day of my internship, I interviewed for the position I have now, my first full-time job out of graduate school. 

What was another writing-related job that was important in your career?

Two internships come to mind that were both pivotal to my acceptance into graduate school and some of the keys to how I received my current position. In college, I was an Editorial Intern at Grupo SM in Madrid, Spain for their English language imprint, University of Dayton Publishing. I translated their texts from Spanish to English, and I did some writing for them as well. This international publishing experience made the difference for me in my graduate application and still stands out on my resume. I was also an Editorial Intern for Entangled Publishing, a remote internship where I got to read New Adult manuscripts (mostly in the genres of romance and science fiction) and write reviews of these manuscripts for the Executive Editor. My boss during my internship at America’s Test Kitchen told me that she thought this experience was so cool and unique—it’s how she remembered me.

What did you do in college to prepare for your post-grad life? 

I was one of those kids who knew exactly what she wanted to do after college from day one. I wanted to work in publishing, ideally in Boston where my family lives, and work in the editorial field. I made sure to gain experience in the publishing industry before graduation (in Spain with Grupo SM and with Entangled Publishing). To gain experience in research, I wrote an honors thesis on international digital publishing and conducted my primary research while I worked in Madrid. Networking via LinkedIn and informational interviews over the phone allowed me to establish connections to the publishing industry and learn more about where I wanted my career to go (and where I didn’t want it to go).

“Networking is the single most important thing you can do for yourself. I would not be where I am today without my connections.”

What is your advice for students and graduates with an English degree?

Networking is the single most important thing you can do for yourself. I would not be where I am today without my connections. Now, I know you’ve probably heard the common phrase “It’s all about who you know.” Well, it (kind of) is. A recommendation from a professional connection is just the first step. Then, when you have an interview with a company you’re passionate about, that’s your opportunity to impress them with who you are. Your experiences matter, too! Also, don’t be afraid to stray away from an “editorial” title. I work in marketing, yes, but I get to write creatively every single day. It’s okay to go outside the box with your job search. You’d be surprised at how many jobs rely heavily on you knowing how to write well. Most importantly, find a job that brings you joy!

Click here to read an example newsletter written by Kristina, Notes from the Test Kitchen (you can sign up to receive this newsletter in your email here). Be sure to follow the rest of Kristina's writing on her food blog, If That Dish Could Talk. You can connect with Kristina on LinkedIn


Posted on July 14, 2017 and filed under Interview, Interviews, Marketing.

Michael Key: Learning Initiatives Coordinator

Name: Michael Key

Age: 30

College & Majors/Minors: University of Dayton, M.A. in English

Current Location: Dayton, OH

Current Form of Employment: University of Dayton

Where do you work and what is your current position?

I am the Learning Initiatives Coordinator at the University of Dayton. I hire, train, and coordinate tutors for the university and supervise a developmental learning course for students on academic probation. The bulk of my job is focused on academic and professional development for student-employees and students-at-large.

Tell us about how you found your first job, and how you found your current job (if different).

I was a graduate student at the University of Dayton and made the penniless choice to forego a graduate assistantship teaching English and providing writing consultation. Instead, I worked for the Office of Learning Resources in mentoring Supplemental Instruction (SI) Leaders, developing formal office procedures by training student staff, teaching students on academic probation, and then eventually supervising all of the course sections. The director said they had given me too much information not to hire me so I went through a rigorous interview process to see if I would be the best candidate for the job. I’ve been the Learning Initiatives Coordinator for two years now and am planning on beginning my PhD in Educational Leadership in the fall.

What was another writing-related job that was important in your career?

Writing has always been a freelance ambition of mine. I was published in an anthology on Neil Gaiman’s work, Neil Gaiman in the 21st Century, while in graduate school. The opportunity actually came from a tweet I made about reviewing the first volume for a class assignment. The editor contacted me about contributing to the next edition so I used my term paper as the framework for the publication. Even now, writing is nowhere in my job description, but I recently published an article with two other colleagues about using Lean Six Sigma methodology to increase efficiency and decrease cost in providing tutoring services on campuses.

“As a first generation college student, I didn’t really have a roadmap or checklist of things to do to complete college. I also had to work in order to go to school.”

What did you do in college to prepare for your post-grad life?

As a first generation college student, I didn’t really have a roadmap or checklist of things to do to complete college. I also had to work in order to go to school. Therefore, I took every opportunity that was out there to help me learn and grow. I worked in loan collections, housing, alumni relations, the campus bookstore, the writing center, and was once a telemarketer. I also led several clubs and worked as a mentor for students interested in starting non-profit organizations of campus. I think my greatest success was bringing all of my experiences to a new job and building onto it. The snowball has built up to give me a diverse set of skills that have come in handy in jobs or projects that don’t necessarily employ those skills.

“English majors, as well as many other humanities majors, are exceptional critical thinkers. When someone makes a statement, we question why. This is a valuable skill to every organization.”

What is your advice for students and graduates with an English degree?

I do not live in a cardboard box. Jokesters of the past were wrong when they said the only thing I could do with an English degree is be unemployed or teach. English majors, as well as many other humanities majors, are exceptional critical thinkers. When someone makes a statement, we question why. This is a valuable skill to every organization. We consume information like a seven-headed boar but we synthesize it to make concise and impactful statements and reports. I’ve heard countless recruiters and managers of businesses say, “We can teach anyone business, but we can’t teach someone to communicate effectively.” Know your value and use every opportunity you are given to back it up.

You can connect with Michael on LinkedIn here


Posted on July 3, 2017 and filed under Interview, Interviews.

Anna Gibson: Business Analyst

Name: Anna Gibson

Age: 30

College & Majors/Minors: MA in Publishing & Writing, BA in English, minors in corporate communication, creative and professional writing

Current Location: Columbus, OH

Current Form of Employment: Full time

Where do you work and what is your current position?

I currently work for JPMorgan Chase as a business analyst within the Letters Administration team. I’m basically a project manager for letters that are sent out to customers.

Tell us about how you found your first job, and how you found your current job (if different).

My first job out of grad school was a correspondence letter editor at JPMorgan Chase, where I edited hundreds of letters and emails before they were sent to customers. I had applied to dozens of jobs in both Ohio (where I was originally from) and in Boston (where I completed my graduate program). I was looking for editorial jobs, and found the position on an online job board. I applied, and I got a call the next day for an interview, and I was hired within the following two weeks.

After a few years of editing letters and helping with internal communications, I knew I wanted to move up to a different positon. My manager was very supportive of me, and was the one who suggested I apply for an internal posting for a business analyst position. It would still be a position working within the letters world, but this time, on the back end of the letters process. I applied and got the job! I’ve now been employed as a business analyst for two years, and with the same company for five years.

What was another writing-related job that was important in your career?

I accepted a full-time editing internship at Wiley-Blackwell Publishing in my second year as a grad student at Emerson College. I was pretty much an assistant to the editorial assistant—they often hired interns, so we were trained as if we were going to eventually be hired and hit the ground running, so we were given immense responsibility for multiple different book projects. I didn’t realize then how useful that internship would be for the position I’m currently in. Learning to juggle multiple projects at a time, maintaining strict deadlines, leading meetings, and learning how to interact with different levels of people throughout the process made a huge difference when I started working full-time in the corporate world.

What did you do in college to prepare for your post-grad life?

I had various internships throughout my college years, and I feel like they all gave me a huge step up in how to be successful in a corporate role. I was incredibly lucky to find paying internships, so I could intern full-time while I went to school full-time. It also gave me an opportunity to work with different companies in different types of writing/communications/editing roles, so I could see what the best fit was for me. I did everything from a corporate communications internship with a Fortune 500 company, to an editing internship with a small academic publisher. Each of these experiences gave me a good chance to hone my skills and find out what I wanted (or didn’t want!) in a career. 

“A professor once told me that as long as I could write well, I would always be able to find a job, and that was some of the best advice I’ve received.”

What is your advice for students and graduates with an English degree?

A professor once told me that as long as I could write well, I would always be able to find a job, and that was some of the best advice I’ve received. I have two English-major related degrees, and I have always been employed full-time. I believe that is in large part because of my ability to write and articulate clearly and professionally in any setting. I wouldn’t have gained any of those skills without an English degree that focused on writing and communication. Don’t take those skills for granted!

You can connect with Anna on LinkedIn here


Posted on June 26, 2017 and filed under Project Management, Interviews, Interview.