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.

Susanna Lancaster: English Professor

Name: Susanna Lancaster

Age: 27

College and Majors/Minors: College: The University of Memphis / English major with a concentration in creative writing (2011); Grad School: Lesley University / Creative Writing for Young People (2014)

Current Location: Memphis, TN

Current Form of Employment: English Instructor at Southwest Tennessee Community College, magazine writer, editor, and children’s author

Where do you work and what is your current position?

I’m an English Professor at Southwest Tennessee Community College, and I love it! I teach English Composition 1 and 2 courses, as well as Academic Success Seminars. I’m currently planning material to teach a creative writing course. In addition to teaching, I also write as much as possible. I’ve written for both The Perpetual You magazine and Memphis Health + Fitness Magazine. My first book, The Growing Rock—a YA historical fiction novel—debuts on December 12, 2017.

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

I started my very first job when I was 16. I didn’t have a car yet and wanted to save for one so that I could have enough money to buy one before I finished high school. My dad is the librarian at a Memphis school. Since I came by all the time to do my homework, I would often alphabetize books and do little jobs around the library. When I said I needed to buy a car, he agreed to let me work there part-time. It was the perfect job in high school and college because of the quiet atmosphere. It also helped me maintain my love for reading. 

I’m truly blessed to be in the job that I’m in now. However, getting to this point wasn’t easy. For several years after earning my MFA degree, I worked a variety of jobs that didn’t necessarily “use” my degree. I realized while I was in graduate school that I wanted to teach, so in addition to a full-time office job, I taught classes as an adjunct professor at two different colleges. 

“All of my writing success has also come with many challenges, and persistence always seems to be more than half the battle.”

All of my writing success has also come with many challenges, and persistence always seems to be more than half the battle. I have gotten magazine opportunities simply by reaching out and asking editors to see my work. If that wasn’t an option, I would just submit my writing and hope for the best. When it comes to getting work published, there are usually more rejections than there are acceptances, but I’ve learned you simply have to keep trying. The Growing Rock manuscript was sent to nearly forty different agents and publishing houses before I got my “yes.” 

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

Editing! Over the years, I’ve done plenty of editing jobs for various people—from college level students, to Ph.D. dissertations, to people’s manuscripts, to resumes. This started in high school when my father didn’t have time to edit an essay for someone and suggested the person let me take a look at it. I was young, but I enjoyed grammar and writing, and I was fast at proofreading. Ever since, I’ve edited as a side job and been able to gain both more experience and extra cash. This job was very important to me when I was a graduate student working several part-time jobs and having a hard time living on my own. It seemed like whenever I was low on funds, an editing job would come my way. I think that this job played a significant role when I started teaching as an adjunct a couple of years later. It led me recognize how every student has different strongpoints, helped me with developing how I wanted to grade my students’ essays, and allowed me to see the benefits of pointing out positive and negative aspects in writing. 

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

This is a tough one to answer, but it’s something I share with my students sometimes to help them not make the same mistakes. I wish that I had done more in college to prepare myself for after I graduated. I didn’t focus enough on graduating and focused much more on getting to graduation. My senior year was pretty hectic because I had a 4.0 GPA, and I was obsessed with graduating with this level of perfection. I worried and studied all the time, and anxiety got the best of me. I actually battled an eating disorder for many years, and that became consuming. I finished college a year early and with the 4.0, but I remember being exhausted, very sick, and thinking “Now what?”

“This gap year turned out to be a huge blessing in disguise. It helped me gain more responsibility and maturity. It also helped me understand what I wanted to do, which was to be a writer—specifically a children’s author.”

I didn’t get into graduate school immediately, and I was extremely hard on myself. I ended up taking the next year off from school and working some part-time jobs, moved out of my parents’ home, and focused on taking care of me. This gap year turned out to be a huge blessing in disguise. It helped me gain more responsibility and maturity. It also helped me understand what I wanted to do, which was to be a writer—specifically a children’s author. I hadn’t been out of college for a full year when I was accepted to several of the graduate programs that focus on writing children’s literature. Because I wasn’t in school at the moment, I had less pressure deciding which one was the best for me.  

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

There’s a Winston Churchill quotation I’ve always admired. When asked to cut the funding of the arts for the war effort, he had answered, “then what are we fighting for?” This saying sums up so much in my own life. Writing and doing what I enjoy has been crucial for my health and happiness. Without this passion, I would definitely have to ask myself what I would be living for, and I don’t think I would be where I am in my eating disorder recovery. Therefore, my first piece of advice is do what you enjoy. An English major may not bring you the wealthiest lifestyle, but no major is guaranteed to do this. English degrees are also incredibly important. Most people don’t realize how necessary English majors are for many different areas outside of teaching and editing—film, television shows, and technical writing are all divisions where we need English majors. 

My other piece of advice is to be patient with yourself. Sometimes the dream career doesn’t come around immediately upon graduation, but that’s okay. There’s no harm in working a job outside of the English major and doing smaller jobs, such as teaching, or editing, to help you gain the experience needed for the job you’re working toward. When it comes to writing, I encourage people not to quit. When trying to get my book published, I did face a bit of rejection, and it was easy to feel discouraged. There were times I wanted to quit, but now I can see that my book wouldn’t exist if I had. Publishing is one of those things that may take a long time to work toward, but it only takes one “yes” to make the dream happen. Having friends to critique my work was incredibly important, and putting myself out there and looking for opportunities was crucial. Ultimately, focusing on what made me happy and not losing faith in my goals helped some of my dreams turn into reality. 


The Growing Rock debuts December 12th from Harvard Square Editions! 

When the summer of 1937 leads to one hardship after another that changes the life she knows forever, fourteen-year-old Caroline struggles not to give into hopelessness as she keeps a promise to her Papa about looking after the women in the family. 


You can visit Susanna's website at susannalancaster.com, and follow her on Facebook and Instagram @Susanna_Lancaster_Author. 


Posted on November 2, 2017 and filed under Author, Teaching.

Gretchen Gales: Freelance Writer & Marketing Intern

Name: Gretchen Gales

Age: 21

College & Majors/Minors: B.A. in English and History, minor in Creative Writing

Current Location: Richmond, Virginia

Current Form of Employment: Freelance Writer and Marketing Intern at Legacy Navigator

Where do you work and what is your current position?

As a freelancer, I put my eggs in so many baskets, the Easter Bunny is angry with me. Independently, I have had bylines in Ms., The Establishment, Bustle, and more. I’m currently the managing editor of Quail Bell Magazine, an online and occasional print publication exploring the magic and beauty of culture, history, feminism, folklore, and much more. Christine Stoddard and I work together with the other (volunteer, I should add) editors and staff writers to produce the best possible experience for our readers. We recently created more narrowed-down editor roles. We promoted Ren Martinez as the fiction editor, and if you take a peek at some of her work—especially her short stories—it was an easy choice. Archita Mittra is our poetry editor. She’s achieved a lot at a young age as well, including producing haunting, aesthetically pleasing written and art work. Lashelle Johnson is our essay editor and curates essays from diverse voices. She also brings her own voice into the mix, tackling topics about race, gender and more. Erynn Porter, Ghia Vitale, Amy Joyce, Julian Drury, and Melanie Bikowski are our hard-working assistant editors. Quail Bell wouldn’t be the same without our dedicated volunteers.

I am also an intern at Legacy Navigator, a real estate liquidator specializing in grief. It is a very compassionate company. Everyone values your input and we all have fabulous rapport. You see a lot of companies try and cultivate a “family” relationship to improve the company’s morale, but I would say this is the first job where I feel I could be upfront and communicate exactly what I’m feeling at all times. They value their employee’s mental health and respect your limits. I don’t feel the normal urge to be a “yes woman” and agree to do absolutely everything to get on anyone’s good side. In other words, I have had a great internship experience.

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

My first true writing job was working with Christine Stoddard as managing editor of Quail Bell Magazine. I found out about Quail Bell by walking around during an Art Walk and purchased our two anthologies. I read them and immediately fell in love, determined that I would place my work in the magazine someday. Before I was promoted to managing editor, I was brought on board as a volunteer staff writer, then an assistant editor, and finally to where I am today. I essentially help sort through submissions for quality work that speaks to our mission as well as curating pieces for special projects. We love beautiful and haunting pieces. I’m always excited to give the go-ahead to editors about which pieces to accept. We have also been taking the initiative to make more original artwork to pair with submissions so that every piece is unique. The real moral of the story is to spend your last $20 on books, specifically small indie publishers.

“Finding someone who is willing to be a mentor to you is a remarkable experience.”

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

Being mentored by Christine Stoddard was an amazing opportunity. After a summer internship I had initially signed up for went sour—always investigate a magazine AND their editors before accepting an opportunity—Christine generously offered to be my mentor for the summer and teach me all about how to find work and refine my pitches for larger chances of success. She is a superstar, but still makes time to share her own knowledge with fledgling writers. Finding someone who is willing to be a mentor to you is a remarkable experience. I had admired Quail Bell early in my undergraduate career, so getting a poem published in the publication was already surreal. I never would have imagined I would get this far.

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

I sought out internship opportunities and jumped at interesting opportunities I saw on social media. There are groups for submission calls on Facebook all over the place. Join them and see what you can find. I also went to my first AWP conference this year in Washington, D.C. I had a blast, and hope I can attend again in the near future. It is a writer’s absolute dream. The book fair alone was like trick-or-treating for bookworm adults.

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

Actively look for opportunities to submit your writing. Just because you’re in college (or fresh out of college) doesn’t mean you shouldn’t already be looking out for submission and pitching opportunities. Yes, that includes your “dream” magazines. Aim big! Most of my bigger bylines were snatched up after I submitted a pitch or draft just to see what would happen. If you don’t know where to start, Submittable just added a Discover feature with filters, so you can find the perfect opportunity for you.

You should also follow a variety of literary magazines—small and large—on various social media outlets. Some people believe that all writers are recluses and anti-social, but that is farther from the truth. I don’t think something like the AWP conference could exist if writers didn’t have a desire to talk to one another about their ideas and projects.

Oh, don’t forget to read. I know time is limited in college and you’re really only focusing on readings assigned by your professors, but I promise it is manageable. Take a moment every day to read a short article or piece that pertains to your writing interests. It can be a source of motivation, inspiration, and a distraction from the normal college-related stress. Plus, you’ll get a sense of what you want your own writing style to be like.

Finally, balance the work you need to do for day to day living with creative work. It is true that you probably will not make a sustainable living on your creative works right after college, and it is an incredibly hard journey to get there. But if you are persistent and work hard, you can find career opportunities that are enjoyable and stable. That means you can more time to focus on your creative endeavors, like that could-be bestseller!

You can check out Gretchen's online portfolio here. You can also follow her on Twitter, connect with her on LinkedIn, and follow her fan page on Facebook.


Posted on November 2, 2017 and filed under Freelance, Publishing.

Megan Barnard: Editor

Name: Megan Barnard

Age: 24

College & Majors/Minors: Hollins University: English major with a concentration in creative writing. Double minors in communications and history. 

Current Location: Baltimore, MD

Current Form of Employment: Full-time editor at Angel Publishing

Where do you work and what is your current position?

I'm currently an editor at investment research firm, Angel Publishing. I primarily work for Energy and Capital where I write blog posts, PPC (pay-per-click) articles, marketing copy, and copyedit.

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

I spent at least half of my senior year applying to writing/editorial jobs… And I found nothing. Job hunting was nearly a full-time job on its own. It was incredibly frustrating to see all these entry-level jobs that needed 1-2 years of experience. I ended up getting a job working customer service in a call center (which I had about 4 years of experience in) for a travel agency in Boston.

I spent about 9 months in the call center… and found that it was not for me. I had moved back to Maryland (where I’m from) at this point and telecommuted for work, but I desperately wanted out of customer service. I did anything I could to make myself stand out: I polished my LinkedIn, I contacted alumni from my university, and I applied to all jobs that possibly fit my experience.

I found the job posting for my current job on Craigslist. I applied immediately and got an email back that day, then had an interview and job offer within a week.

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

It wasn’t a job per-se, but I wrote a Senior English Honors Thesis during my senior year of college. The thesis wasn’t required to graduate, but I found that the time and research I had to put into it (I was writing a novel), along with the hours of actual writing and one-on-one meetings with my thesis advisor were vital for developing my writing skills. It also gave me the opportunity to work on my writing daily, and helped me realize that writing and editing was actually something I loved to do each day. It confirmed that I was in the right field of study.

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

I wrote my Senior English Honors Thesis. I created a resume and LinkedIn account, I kept my GPA high and became a member of Sigma Tau Delta, the international English honors society. I also doubled minored in history and communications. History, because I loved the subject, and communications, because it pairs really well with an English degree and looks good on a resume. 

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

Don’t give up. Don’t listen to the people who laugh when you tell them you’re getting your degree in English (those “you’ll be my next barista” jokes are obnoxious). English is a beautiful field of study, and you can succeed at it.

My top tips:

Create a LinkedIn account. It’s actually way more important than you might think during school. Make sure it looks professional, with your resume and a headshot, and then connect with people from your school, no matter how much you hate networking.

Network. I know, I hated this part too. I think half of us become an English major because we like working with words, not people, but networking is a vital part of the career world. The more comfortable you become with it now, the better it will be. It’s okay to be afraid, but do it anyway.

There are jobs in the field of English—but you have to look for them. Finance and IT are fields that always need writers and editors. Don’t worry if you don’t have experience in finance or IT, apply anyway. I was hired at my current position without knowing anything about the world of finance, but most editors would rather hire someone who knows how to write and teach them about their topics, rather than teach people how to write.

Apply to jobs you don’t technically have enough experience for. I’m not talking about jobs that need 10+ years of experience, I’m talking about the entry level ones that say 1-2. Here’s a secret: almost all job listings say that they want 1-2 years of experience, even if they’re actually looking for people who’ve just graduated. The worst thing that can happen is they say no.

I know a lot of English majors are interested in getting in the traditional book publishing field. I was too, but I didn’t have any information about how to get into those fields, and the career center at my school was not very helpful.

Since then I’ve learned some things. A lot of literary agencies look for interns. I mean a lot. I never had the chance to apply to them, but you can. Bookjobs.com has a lot of listings, but you should also go on the individual websites and look for internships. They say they don’t have any? Send your resume and cover letter anyway. After all, you’re offering free (most literary internships don’t pay) help, so what’s the worst that can happen? Some agencies and publishing houses even have remote internships that you could do while in school.

Lastly, the field of English is one of the most undervalued, but important fields we have today. There are very few jobs around where you don’t have to read and write well, and while it might not be your dream job, you can find a job using the skills you learned in school. Don’t give up. 

To learn more about Megan and her writing, visit www.englishmajorswithjobs.com. You can also follow Megan on Twitter or connect with her on LinkedIn.


Posted on July 15, 2017 and filed under Editing, Editor, Publishing.

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.