Sean Andres earned a B.S. in Secondary English/Language Arts Education from Ball State University in 2008 and a M.S. in Marketing from University of Cincinnati, with a focus on diversity marketing from applied feminist and race theory. His favorite author is Margaret Atwood, and he loves to be outdoors when he’s not glued to the computer—writing, researching, and working. 

How did your teachers at Ball State influence the time you spent in the high school classroom?

One of my favorite units was on point of view and rhetoric, when I covered the voices of the Vietnam War (long before Ken Burns!). I used many Vietnamese accounts, Jane Fonda’s Hanoi radio speech, an Eisenhower speech, and American soldiers’ accounts. But I also had my dad come in to talk to the class about his experience in the Navy during the war. I’ve never seen students so engaged in a classroom.

I contribute most of my teaching methods and a lot of my point of view methods to Dr. Pamela Hartman. Similarly, Dr. Joyce Huff, taught us to look at a text from many points of view. Each group would look at “Goblin Market” with a different lens, and it was mind-blowing when we all talked about our theories to the rest of the class. I’d also like to mention Dr. Rai Peterson as one of the professors who brought out my interest in rhetoric, which of course, I use now in marketing.

Why did you leave teaching?

One reason was the introduction of computers into the classroom. Rooms with computers force a physical and often mental barrier between you and the students, elevating you to be “above” them, and I didn’t want to be. I was unable to cope with that classroom style, where mine was more of an Arthurian round table of discussion-based and real-world situation learning.

How did you find your way to a graduate program in Marketing and how did your English major prepare you for that? 

I took a proposal writing job at a healthcare staffing company. I was writing, which is what I’d always loved to do. But it was writing proposals, which consisted mostly of cutting and pasting into a Word document. Luckily, the staff saw the creative side of me and assigned me to write marketing copy and internal and external communications. In retrospect, I realize I was doing the work for at least three people, and it was too stressful. I too eagerly took the next job at a manufacturing company, where I thought I’d be writing reports and conducting more communications—I wasn’t.

After three years, I was so far removed from marketing, writing, and communications that I quit my job to attend University of Cincinnati full-time in their Masters of Science in Marketing program, where I focused on advertising innovation and diversity marketing. I attribute those interests to my Ball State English Education degree. I excelled at my feminist theory course in grad school because of my English background, which allowed me to clearly state — with significant analysis — the distinct correlation between feminist and race theory and marketing

What are you doing now?

I just started a full-time marketing job at Icon Solar Power. Before that, I was freelancing for awhile and , building a significant network and portfolio. I’ve also started a public initiative called Queens of Queen City, where I tell the stories of Cincinnati women—stories lost through time or currently unnoticed.

In short, I’m using everything I learned at Ball State. Though teaching didn’t agree with me, I still use both teaching and English in my everyday, especially since I do a lot of content and copy writing for marketing. It’s all come down to human behavior, too, which I used in studying English, teaching English, writing persuasive proposals, and marketing. No matter what I do, I take my education from BSU with me.

Do you have any advice for English majors who are trying to figure out what comes next in their lives?

Find your passions now. Get involved in everything and anything. I’d shown interest in sociology, anthropology, education, and creative writing. I didn’t know how to connect them early on, so I was doing each independently. It created a disconnect between what I was supposed to do and what I wanted to do.

Engage with a community and use your talents, that’s a great way to start. Your education shouldn’t just be in a classroom.

If I’d have known before college that marketing was a thing I could do with creative writing, I would have done something differently, even used my English Education degree to seek that out immediately.

Whatever you want to do, work for it every day. Design your choices towards that goal. You can’t be an author if you don’t write. If something else interests you, see how you can incorporate it into your studies or your career.

I also suggest not going into graduate school immediately. Get work experience that you can bring to the table when you do go for higher degrees. It provides a way for you to ground what you’re learning and apply it. You also are expected to interact at a higher level of professionalism in those programs, something you learn through actually working as a professional.