On April 1, West Chester University’s English department sponsored a career panel open to the entire student body, but geared towards those within the major. Run, in large part, due to the efforts of English professor, Dr. Eleanor Shevlin, this annual event hosts West Chester English major alumni to come share their post-graduate experiences, in the hopes of inspiring those within the major to expand their horizons of career opportunities.
The event was held in the Phillips Autograph Library in the Emilie K. Asplundh Concert Hall and spanned the length of approximately two hours between 3:30-5:30 p.m. Four speakers were invited to discuss their careers and answer questions from the students about how they reached their career choices and how a degree in English helped them in their chosen field. While one speaker arrived a bit late, the audience helped themselves to refreshments, including assorted fruit, cookies, tea, and coffee.
The first speaker, Casey Oscar, discussed her role as a system support tech analyst at Boeing. She explained how directly after graduation, she took a job with an event planning company for which she had interned the summer before her graduation. Having transferred schools and having been entirely undecided on her major for the majority of her college career, being an English major, a major notorious for lacking a distinct career post-graduation path, combined the skills Oscar wanted to foster in reading and writing.
Her position working as an event planner gave her good working experience, and her undergraduate minor in Technical Writing allowed her to prosper with this company which relied on rapidly produced event proposals. This position, however, was not one she anticipated enjoying as a career. Eventually, Oscar found the greatest use for her skills with analysis and being able to gather technical information and convey that information to an audience which was unfamiliar with the subject matter at Boeing as a system support tech analyst.
The second speaker was Brandon Walcott, an attorney at Law Office of Brandon D. Walcott, LLC Walcott originally was declared a political science major at West Chester, but eventually changed his major to English when he discovered the extensive amount of memorization, fast reading, comprehension, and analysis skills he would need upon entering law school. Walcott also talked about the importance of balancing social and academic life – yes, even in law school! He said the key to his success was not simply that he took his studies seriously, but that he also recognized the importance of maintaining those social aspects as means of gaining mental stability.
The third guest speaker was Beth Kline, director of continuing medical education – Institute of Musculoskeletal Science and Education. Kline joked that this is not the career every English student dreams of; however, it is a career that she enjoys, and is good at in large part due to her English background. Through her background in English, Kline refined skills in collecting information and conveying that information to a different audience in an easily understood manner. Working in the medical industry, this skill is a necessity for ensured safety and survival of the centers patients.
The fourth, and final speaker was librarian and author, Carla Hostetter. Hostetter, while many years the senior of the remaining panel members, had an extraordinary amount of positive things to say regarding a career as a librarian. Hostetter traveled all the way from New Orleans, and spoke about her many other travels to Europe and San Francisco to name a few. Her profession has helped her combine her love of literature, her thirst for knowledge, and her desire to help those in the community.
After each panel member finished speaking, the session transitioned into a question and answer segment in which students were invited to ask each speaker follow-up questions on their career choices.
The event closed with an informal speed-networking segment in which students interested in networking directly with one of the speakers were invited to introduce themselves and gather additional information from those individuals. Guests began tapering off during this last segment, and the entire event ended around 5:30 p.m. Tuesday evening.
Laura Wayne is an English literature major with minors in international business, business and technical writing, and Spanish. She can be reached at LW738484@wcupa.edu.