Sarah Flores graduated from Ball State University in 2016 with a BA in English studies. After graduation, she returned to her hometown of Columbus, Indiana and worked for the school corporation. In April 2017, she accepted a position with Turning Point Domestic Violence Services on the Prevention Team.
How did your English major lead to your current position? What series of steps did you make after college to get there, and what skills did you learn with us that helped you in that transition?
I wouldn’t say that I took a series of steps to be in my current position. After I graduated, I knew that I had one goal: get a job. I was privileged in that I had a place to stay, reliable transportation, and no other responsibilities that got in the way of my search. I knew that I wanted to work with youth, so I looked for open positions in the school system. I was quickly hired as a teaching assistant at a high school and, because of my degree, I was placed in an English classroom. Long story short, one of my current coworkers came into the classroom as a guest speaker on teen dating violence, and I knew that I wanted to do something similar. As luck would have it, they were hiring.
Full transparency, I was amazed that I was hired for my position with an English degree. In this field, it’s more common to see people with social work or psychology backgrounds. But taking a step back, it makes sense. Prevention is not intervention (i.e. working one on one with someone who is in crisis). Prevention is looking at a complex issue (which, in my case, is intimate partner violence) and finding ways to deconstruct the unhealthy behaviors that contribute to the problem. This echoes the skills I learned in the English department: analyze the situation, break down its layers, and communicate it to an audience.
(If you want to know more about violence prevention, or if you’re just a cool nerd who likes to read things, the CDC has a lot of great info: https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/overview/index.html)
What’s a typical day like for you?
I’m happy to say that I don’t have a typical day. During the school year, I’m most likely in a classroom. Our prevention team does programming in all of the middle and high schools in our county. Sometimes I’m in an 8th grade class doing an activity on consent. Other times I’m with high schoolers having a discussion about break ups. Maybe I’m at an in-patient facility helping teens brainstorm coping skills for when they get angry. Regardless of my location, I’m given the freedom to be as creative as I want to be. If my main goal is to prevent and eliminate intimate partner violence, then I need to scaffold what a healthy relationship looks like in relevant ways.
(For anyone interested, www.loveisrespect.org is one of my favorite websites for information on healthy, unhealthy, and abusive relationships.)
On a typical day I’m doing what we call “chasing the squirrel,” which is having a Jimmy Neutron-esque brain blast and then running with the idea. There’s a lot of crafting (which I’m not good at), document designing (shout out to Eva Grouling Snider), and supporting our very talented and beautiful grant writers.
Many moons ago I slapped together a presentation for one of Rory Lee’s courses all about working at a nonprofit with no intention of ever doing it and behold—here I am. Spooky.
Do you have any advice for English majors who are trying to figure out what comes next in their lives?
My advice: APPLY FOR WHATEVER JOB YOU WANT. Seriously. Just do it. Here’s the little secret that I learned pretty early on: your major doesn’t define what you can and can not do. Employers are looking for people with relevant skills and, baby, no one can put you in a corner. Your English major is a skeleton key to any career field.
Can you write? Heck yes—and in different genres!
Can you research? You bet! Your Google search history is probably alarming, but you know your facts!
Are you organized? Not only have you learned how to effectively communicate in a logical flow, but you have also juggled multiple deadlines. You got this.
Are you a critical thinker? You kick so much butt when it comes to analyzing information, distinguishing the relevant from the irrelevant, and communicating possible solutions that they call you Truth Lee (this is a Bruce Lee pun and I am sorry).
This is just a short list that doesn’t even cover half of your magical abilities you’ve EARNED.
Honestly, the best advice I can give is just to take chances. So what if you don’t have the “experience required”—you’d be very surprised on the calls you get back. Oh, and try to work at a place that allows dogs because it rules.
You can find Sarah on Twitter at @heyitsflores.