Community Outreach Specialist/ beginning an English M.A. program at Clemson, fall 2008
Grad Year: 2007
The beauty of studying English
Like many University of Michigan students I entered college with no idea what I wanted to do but the notion that if I was a student in Literature, Science and the Arts I should be pre-something. With no desire to pursue careers in either business or medicine, I focused my sights on pre-law. I had always had an interest in English and felt that if I could qualify my choice of an English degree with the fancy pre-law label, it would make it sound more legitimate. While my parents supported my passion for English, they encouraged me to consider a major that might be more marketable after graduation. In my first year and a half at Michigan I took classes in many different academic fields, but I found that the classes I was excited about registering for every semester were those in the English department, where I eventually found a home. In an attempt to expand my knowledge of the legal profession I joined the prelaw fraternity on campus. After spending time listening to speakers from all aspects of the legal field, I realized that I couldn’t imagine myself ever being happy in the profession. For lack of a better idea of things to do after graduation, I decided graduate school was the logical next step for liberal arts majors and I applied to programs.
In retrospect, I was fortunate to not get into any of the PhD programs that I applied to as it forced me to face the daunting prospect of coming to terms with graduation and finding a job. I took a summer job as a peer advisor for LSA orientation and started applying for any and all jobs that I could find. I decided that I wanted to stay involved with higher education and was lucky to find a job in the Office of Undergraduate Admissions at Michigan. I currently work in community outreach for the office where I have the chance to talk about college with underrepresented, first generation students who might not otherwise consider higher education as a viable option. My work experience has opened my eyes to the many opportunities in higher education, independent of faculty positions. I really like talking with high school students, reading applications, and the part that I play in shaping next year’s first year class. The reading and writing skills that I acquired as an undergraduate in the English department have become vital with the amount of reading and written responses that are part of my job. After researching graduate programs in both English and Higher Education Administration I have decided to go back to school for my masters in English.
I encourage current English students to think outside of the box when it comes to your plans after graduation. The beauty of English is you have the skills set to do many things; however, it’s easy to limit yourself to the traditional fields of academia and publishing when embarking upon a job search. Also, when you are advised to take a year off before graduate school, it isn’t that you can’t go straight, it is just easier if you don’t. Distancing one’s self from academia allows for a new prospective that is hard to achieve when still an undergraduate.
Elizabeth Bender, Faith Adler Brown, Jennifer Conlin, Vanessa Febo, Chris Hall, Lawrence Landman, Amanda Richardson, Lisa Vandenbossche, Erin Crowley, Dory Gannes, Aric Knuth, Katherine MacNair, Howard Markel, MD, PhD, Sarah Marwil Lamstein, Kelly O’Connor McNees, Michael Richman, Melissa Shook, Rebecca Soares, Kurt Taroff, Lee Woldenberg, Anne Wyman, Neil Rao, Charles Aldrich, Rachael Hudak
Related Career FieldsCommunications/Marketing, Education, Public Relations, Post-Graduate Education