On Monday night, I had the chance to go to a networking event organized for the English department and the Center for Experience and Opportunity (CEO) called “What can I do with an English Major?” The event featured a panel of six McDaniel alumni who were English majors when they went to school here.
The six panelists represented a variety of career paths. A couple of the panelists are current or recent graduate students who now write for publications. One panelist is a lawyer. Another is the director of digital communications and social media for McDaniel College (which I think is a pretty awesome job!). The last two panelists have started their own businesses. One has an online PR and marketing business while the other sells historical costumes on Etsy.
Listening to all of these panelists speak about their careers and what lead to their careers was insightful. A number of the panelists were able to beat their own paths and find and create careers that were right for them after not initially starting out with careers they loved. (It’s important for everyone to remember that their first job probably isn’t going to be the job they end up staying with and falling in love with.)
The panelists stressed the importance of internships and other work experience. As one panelist put it, college is the time to take on internships, because it’s a lot more difficult to work without pay after graduation, especially if you don’t live with your parents anymore.
After the panel was over, everyone in attendance had the opportunity to network with the panelists. I was surprised that so many of my peers left without really talking to any of the panelists, but it gave me the opportunity to speak with almost all of them. I found that talking to the younger alumni was just as helpful as talking with the alumni whose careers are most established. Everyone gave me great advice and I was able to pick up a couple of contacts that I plan on getting in touch with.
Going to this presentation really got me thinking about careers. While I’ve been thinking that my ultimate goal is to continue on to grad school right after graduation for something, I may end up deciding to delay grad school and enter the workforce. If that’s what I end up doing, I’ll need some experience to get hired. Fortunately, I have an appointment with the director of the CEO this week. This will allow me to speak to someone “in the know” about what classes and “career moves” I should be taking. Hopefully, she’ll also be able to point me in the direction of some summer internship opportunities relevant to my interests and my goals.