Name: Sara Strickland
College & Majors/Minors: B.A. in Literary Studies from the University of Texas at Dallas, working towards an M.A. in English from Texas Woman’s University
Current Location: Dallas, TX
Current Form of Employment: Adjunct Faculty and Content & SEO Strategist
Where do you work and what is your current position?
I currently hold two very different types of part-time positions. First, I work at a digital marketing agency called BizTraffic as a Content & SEO Strategist. Before I started working for this company I didn’t even know that such a position existed, much less what it meant. The majority of my time at this job is spent writing content for blog posts, emails, ebooks, whitepapers, and website pages.
Because I work for a relatively small company, I’ve had the opportunity to try a variety of things out during my time here. I’ve written instructional manuals for our company’s internal use, created and implemented social media strategies, and learned the basic principles of website design, just to name a few.
My second job is as an Adjunct at Richland Collegiate High School. I teach AVID (which stands for Advancement Via Individual Determination) to high school seniors. But my students are no ordinary high school seniors! They are all enrolled in approximately 15 to 18 college credit hours each semester, in addition to a few courses for high school credit. Most of our students graduate simultaneously with both a high school diploma and an associate's degree.
AVID is a course designed to prepare students for college by teaching them how to excel through note taking strategies, analytical writing, discussion groups, and study groups. This is especially important for our students because their course load is so intense. We give them the tools to succeed in a college environment, and give them a little push towards attending universities once they graduate from the program.
Tell us about how you found your first job, and how you found your current job (if different).
I started working when I was 16, so my very first job was as a courtesy clerk at a grocery store. My older brother was working at the store and let me know they were hiring. It was not very glamorous and involved lots of hot summer afternoons clearing carts off the lot and bagging bloody meat for customers.
Both of my current jobs I found through job websites. I originally was hired as an intern at BizTraffic, and I’ve now worked there over two years, fluctuating between part and full time as my school and work schedule permits. When I applied for the adjunct position, I applied to teach Developmental Writing at the college and was offered a class. But my class didn’t make it. Fortunately, they liked my credentials enough to offer me classes at the high school, plus I’m scheduled to teach Developmental Writing in the fall.
What was another writing-related job that was important in your career?
One of the most influential writing-related jobs I’ve held was actually an unpaid, volunteer position at a local homeschool co-op. I was asked to teach a high school level American literature course once a week for an hour throughout the school year.
Because of this experience I began to realize that not only do I love to read literature and to write, but that I really love teaching them, too! This experience contributed to my decision to pursue a masters and pursue teaching at a college level as a career.
What did you do in college to prepare for your post-grad life?
I did a few things to help me prepare for post-grad life. First of all, I never stopped working during my college career which has given me a strong work history and financial security because I have never had to take out a student loan, despite paying for my entire degree myself.
I took every learning opportunity that would work with my busy schedule. That included volunteering to teach at the homeschool co-op I mentioned before, volunteering at a local museum over spring break, and taking the BizTraffic internship. All of these gave me valuable experience that contributes to the jobs I do now, and helped me craft my future career goals.
I also took full advantage of my professor’s feedback by improving the papers I wrote and applying what I learned to future papers. I still think of advice I received from my undergraduate professors when writing my graduate level papers. Plus I always try to give feedback to my students that is as useful as that I received from my professors.
What is your advice for students and graduates with an English degree?
Take every learning opportunity you can and don’t limit yourself! There are so many uses for an English degree that sometimes it just takes some time and a little bit of trial and error to find the right match for your personality and talents. And it’s never too soon to get started, or too late to learn something new!