Dustin Tipton graduated from Ball State in 2012. He has a Bachelor of Arts in English with a focus in Creative Writing and Literature. He is the Chief Engineer for Hilton Garden Inn West Chester and KB Hotel Group. He lives in Cincinnati with his fiance, and they are expecting their first child, Zoe Loraine.
Prior to Ball State, I worked at the local manufacturing facility in my hometown. That’s where I gained a love for what most employers recognize as “technical skills.”
But, really, I just loved the process of taking something apart and putting it back together. I think it’s that aspect that also made me love studying literature and writing. The act of taking apart a story, trying to understand why something in the narrative is or isn’t working, truly isn’t all that different from taking apart a complex piece of machinery and understanding why that isn’t working.
Most people will say that communication is the biggest advantage in being an English major in today’s job market—and, for obvious reasons, there is a lot of truth in that. English majors do possess an ability to communicate much more effectively than those who graduate in an industry-specific field. It is critical thinking, however, that really sets us apart.
There is no greater companion to critical thinking than creativity.
The ability to think creatively opens up an endless amount of ways to come up with a solution. Once you become known as the go-to person for a quick, creative solution, then you’ve already set yourself apart. David Foster Wallace spoke about this (and did so much more eloquently) in his This is Water speech. English majors are being taught to think rather than being taught how to think, and I’ve found the former to be a distinct advantage over the latter in my life.
I majored in a number of areas before realizing that I had to follow what I truly love. Somewhere beyond the halfway point of a business degree (and hating every minute of it) I decided to enroll in an intro to literature course. I believe it was a 200 level course designed specifically for non-English majors who may be interested in English studies. That course was with Dr Rai Peterson. In the classroom, the discussions, the learning environment, I felt so at home that by the third class meeting, I walked from the classroom to across the hall and picked up a “Change of Major” form.
That course made me realize not only could I study what I love, but it was imperative.
I was a silent fixture in the corner of Rai’s classrooms for the next few years until graduation.
Here’s my advice: Do what you love, but don’t be afraid to try new fields (careers) to figure out what you love. Whatever you do, do it with passion. You have every right to bounce around until you find something that brings you passion.