Beyond the Hill: Tips from former frantic college students

Missed last week’s Professional Writing Alumni Panel?

Though you missed some great reception snacks, there’s no need to worry. First Floor Cherry’s senior (and only) reporter, Hannah (me), was there to bring you the inside scoop on how to be a Real Adult.

In its inaugural year, the panel featured alumni of Dr. Jones’ Fall 2015 Professional Writing Capstone Class. They were:


  • Hannah Benward, currently a graduate student and assistant pursuing an MPA in Political Science at WKU
  • Seth Dukes, editor of Ohio County Times-News in Hartford, Kentucky
  • Chaz Lively, professional writer at KirkpatrickPrice in Bowling Green, Kentucky
  • Kellie McDermott, technical writer at Piramal Pharma Solutions in Lexington, Kentucky
  • Abby Ponder, content specialist at the University of the Cumberlands in Williamsburg, Kentucky

You are probably familiar with the trite assumption that English majors can’t get jobs. In fact, you might even remember our recent blog post about it.

Yet, just one short year ago, these brilliant professionals were in your shoes: on the cusp of graduation, lost and terrified while facing the prospect of entering the job market with an English major. Now, they are successful adults with real jobs as writers, editors and grad assistants.

So what exactly is the secret to navigating the professional world with just a lowly English degree? Are there English majors who have actual jobs?  Here at First Floor Cherry, we’ve compiled a list of their 20 best tips. Read on to find the answers to these questions and more!

  1. Visit your professor’s office hours.
  2. Take advantage of the free resources offered by WKU’s Center for Career and Professional Development – especially practice interviews and career counseling
  3. Look for any networking opportunities you can while in school.
  4. Dr. Jones is the bomb; use her as a resource.
  5. Resume brevity is essential – keep it one page or less.
  6. Confidence is everything.
  7. Take Dr. Rice’s rhetoric class.
  8. Familiarize yourself with other style guides such as AP and Chicago Style – not jut MLA.
  9. Take advantage of internship and employment opportunities on campus and within the Department such as the Writing Center, Student Publications, and English Internships.
  10. Seriously, visit office hours.
  11. When applying for positions, tailor each cover letter based on research and specific knowledge of each company or program.
  12. Bring a diverse array of writing samples to interviews for reference.
  13. Audience analysis is a skill that will translate to any work you do.
  14. Don’t take crap about being a millennial.
  15. Look for opportunities to diversify the work you do, and don’t be afraid to take on extra challenges and projects.
  16. When you’re offered a job, look for negotiation opportunities.
  17.  On the other hand, don’t try to negotiate a graduate assistantship. Take it. Run.
  18. Writing well stems from being well-read.
  19. You don’t have to know everything! Companies will work with you to offer specialized training pertaining to your position.
  20. Work your strengths. Employers looking to quickly fill vacant positions need you as much as you need them.

So there you have it. Life after graduation exists – and turns out it’s pretty bright.

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Are you a WKU English grad? Share your own tips for success in the comments below!

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2 Responses to Beyond the Hill: Tips from former frantic college students

  1. Jeremy says:

    What a cool event! I’d love to see more like this on campus. I think seeing recent graduates with jobs is more encouraging than seeing people who are well-established in a career. Cute drawings, too!

    Liked by 1 person

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