Abby Hoops graduated from Ball State University in 2017 with a B.A. in English with a concentration in Creative Writing.  She also double minored in Digital Publishing and Professional Writing and Emerging Media.  She currently works as both a Tech Writer and a Graphic Illustrator/Artist in Crane, Indiana, where her government job requires a variety of skills in both writing and technology.

What are the most valuable skills you learned as an English major? How have they helped you post-graduation?

The three main skills that I learned as an English major would be: flexibility, adaptability, and computer skills. The job I have right now is contract-based. Meaning that there is a client or customer who wants us to create  something in a certain amount of time. During that time frame, there are occasional checkpoint meetings with the customers to show them what we have accomplished. It is not surprising to come back from these meetings to discover that the customer has changed their mind about something and you have to completely  redo some work.

For example: at one meeting it was okay to leave words like “that,” “the,” and “a/an” in the text we wrote. Then at the next meeting, the customer wanted those types of words taken out completely. So that required us to go through the text we had written to make sure those words were removed and that the rest of the text flowed okay with those missing words. Being able to navigate different computer software programs and just understanding the different features and options available in each program helps us to complete what the customer wants in a timely manner.

What does a typical day look like for you?

What I like about my job is that I am always doing something different. At the beginning of this year, I was mainly using Adobe Illustrator to trace images. Before that I was taking the finished images from other people and adding them into the new text that was written in Adobe Framemaker. Right now I am mainly working in Word and Excel to organize the text before putting it together with the images. So what I am doing depends on what is called for at that time. I have two different hats that I wear at my job: Graphic Illustrator/Artist for whenever artwork needs to be done or Tech Writer for whenever writing needs to be done.

What advice do you have for English majors?

Learn as many computer and software skills as you can. Yes, being able to write complete sentences that are understandable is important too, but we live in a digital world now. If you don’t have some computer skills, it makes it that much harder to find a job.

I actually didn’t get the job I have now because of my English degree. I got it through one of my minors, Digital Publishing. This minor allowed me to learn Adobe Illustrator, InDesign, and Photoshop. I didn’t think these skills would be helpful since I wanted to be a book editor, like so many other English Majors. I saw these classes as the fun classes to take between more serious courses, since the classes under this minor allowed me to create designs for my own shirts or hats and then screen print them. It was a lot of fun, and since I knew how to use these programs I was able to put them on my Indeed profile when I started job hunting.

I was approached by my current employer because I knew these Adobe programs. It was only later when they needed somebody who could also write that I started to be both Tech Writer and Graphic Illustrator. Being able to write is good and all, but being able to say I can write in this program or use this software just makes you look so much better to employers. Employers like people who can wear multiple hats or the person who is willing to learn a new software.

To read more about Ball State’s Digital Publishing minor, check out our blog post by alum Jeremy Flick.