The annual “What Can You Do with an English Degree?” panel was held Tuesday, March 29 in the Philips Autograph Library.
This event offers a valuable opportunity for English seniors to see firsthand the numerous directions their majors may take them once they leave West Chester University for the final time and take their first steps into the “real world.”
Held yearly since 2002, the panel features English alumni who share the stories of their sometimes vastly different journeys post-graduation, all which began in the same place: WCU’s English program.
The panelists pass down the experience and wisdom they’ve garnered from their time in the workforce, as well as answer questions and offer networking opportunities for current students.
This year the panel featured Elana Beckett, current Editorial Assistant at Routledge, Taylor & Francis; Meghan Carrigan, Director of Marketing at Spectra by Comcast Spectator; and Bruce Baldwin, an attorney and partner at the firm Wolf, Baldwin and Associates.
In addition to Beckett, approximately four other WCU alumni are now employed at the publishing house Taylor & Francis.
“I applied to a hundred places,” she said, going after long-shots and short ones in search of the right position for her.
At Taylor & Francis, she found a comfortable fit in a role that emphasized business management and now handles the publication of academic journals by working closely with editors, writing contracts and preparing reports.
While she knows that finding a job can be a daunting task, she recommends students seek every available resource that the Twardowski Career Development Center has to offer.
The center is not only open to current West Chester students, but also to former ones. They help both students and alumni write resumes and cover letters, provide mock interviews and search for jobs or internships. Carrigan also added that internships provide a useful opportunity to learn about your own professional interests and goals.
It was through Carrigan’s internship in public relations with the Philadelphia Flyers, assisting the PR department and writing press releases, that she found her desired path.
“I talked to everyone I saw,” said Carrigan, stressing the value of networking. It was at the Flyers that she found a mentor who gave her meaningful guidance. Hired after graduation in 2011 by Comcast Spectator, she quickly climbed the corporate ladder from Event Services Coordinator to Director of Marketing.
Baldwin chose to pursue a degree in law at Villanova after graduating from West Chester in 1981. Starting from the bottom, as all recent graduates will do, he went from performing the menial routine tasks to taking cases he cared about. He now practices litigation law and helps clients navigate the difficult system of the court room.
Despite the differences between their chosen professions, all expressed the value of their English degree in taking them where they are today, and each offered a glimpse into possible futures for soon-to-be graduates this May.
Etta Griffin is a fourth-year student majoring in English writings with a minor in journalism. They can be reached at EG826453@wcupa.edu