A photo of Whittley Pike.Whittley Pike graduated from the Honors College in 2011 with a BA in English/RW with a minor in German. She participated in Student Government and an Indiana House of Representatives internship. After college, she attended Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law. For several years Whittley was a partner in a small law firm focusing on Elder Law, estate planning, and trust administration. Ms. Pike served as Co-Chair of the Proactive Elder Law team of the National Network of Estate Planning Attorneys (NNEPA), presenting that team’s findings regarding diminishing capacity as well as proactive trust planning through a series of NNEPA conference workshops. Whittley also served as NNEPA Career Counsellor from 2017-2019. In that role, she coached new and transitioning attorneys on their next steps toward pursuing a law practice that more adequately met their personal and professional goals. In her current role, Whittley works as a career coach to law students and organizes on-campus programming for career exploration at the IU Robert H. McKinney School of Law in Indianapolis. 

What aspects from your English degree still affect your day-to-day experiences with your career?

My current job is two parts career coach, one part program developer, one part event planner, and one part public speaker. The entry point for a lot of my student relationships is a resume review. My English degree definitely helps with that process. Instead of telling someone “this just doesn’t look right,” I can point to some very specific elements of document design—typeface can make a huge difference in how polished and professional a resume looks. We also get into discussions about white space, organization, section headings… I love to nerd out on these aspects and I think it shows students I am taking a genuine interest in their success and providing concrete steps they can take to improve their first impression on paper. That helps open fuller conversations and we get to build a relationship for the more personal aspects of students developing their own plans for career advancement.

In the previous post, you said your English degree helped you get into law school. How would you say your English degree helped your current profession as a Senior Associate Director of Professional Development?

Learning a nuanced ability to pick up on context clues in a text has enhanced my ability to empathize and really help with the counseling aspect of my career. Both in my law practice when counseling clients and in my current role as a Senior Associate Director of Professional Development when coaching students. I practiced for about 5 years before coming to IU Robert H. McKinney School of Law to join the Office of Professional Development here.

Is there a particular class or professional opportunity that you remember having a big impact on you?

There are a couple of opportunities that really stick with me from my time at Ball State. First, my participation on the editorial board of Stance: an International Undergraduate Philosophy Journal was really eye-opening. Learning to read philosophy texts with a critical lens equipped me very well for reading cases. Second, my involvement in SGA helped me with my first experiences in event planning and student education (I led a pizza and politics event where we asked panelists to explain party platforms in the local election in 2010. Parts of it are a little cringe-worthy to think about now, but it provided me with a platform to learn a ton about the interpersonal and logistical aspects of organizing events.) Finally, I have continued to use aspects of digital literacy and document design that I learned in English 431 in every role I’ve held since taking that class. My professor taught me that beautiful documents work better. And I could not agree more. If you can distill a difficult legal concept into a one-page document that you can single source to use in a variety of ways, you can create a great impression with clients, referral partners, and colleagues alike.

What advice do you have for English majors?

I had a professor encourage me to apply for internships during my Junior year at Ball State.  I didn’t really believe that I was a competitive candidate but she believed and really pushed for me to make the application.  That application turned into my internship with the State Legislature and really set my career in motion.  Thank you to professor Angela Jackson-Brown.  My advice to English majors is to believe your professors if they take a moment to invest in you through words of encouragement.  Allow that confidence to spill over into yourself.

You can connect with Whittley on LinkedIn. Want to learn more about Whittley’s path from Robert Bell to the Robert H. McKinney School of Law? Come to Stars to Steer By this Thursday, February 13th, from 5:00pm-6:15pm in North Quad 160! As always, there will be free coffee and pizza.