English department chair Sean Lovelace has delegated this year’s Letter from the Chair to Prof. Cathy Day. She has some important news to share with you from #bsuenglish!
Cathy has been teaching creative writing and career-oriented classes at Ball State since 2010. She is an Indiana native and author of The Circus in Winter and Comeback Season. Lately, she’s been presenting at national conferences about teaching career readiness in liberal arts departments.
Dear #bsuenglish Alumni:
In Fall 2022, I started teaching a new, required 1-credit class in the department, ENG 269 Career Discovery. You can learn more about this class on the College of Sciences and Humanities website. We encourage creative writing, English studies, and literature majors to take the course concurrently with the gateway course into their major (ENG 230 and/or ENG 285).
Fifty-five students enrolled in Fall 2022, and we plan to offer the class every fall in the coming years.
What we do in ENG 269 Career Discovery
Because it’s a one-credit class, we can’t do everything, but we do a lot!
- All students go to the annual Star Party, an activity fair that happens during class time and features all the clubs, classes, and organizations they can join.
- They also go to the Cardinal Directions career series, which you might remember as “Stars to Steer By.” We feature alumni who work in each of the five Career Pathways:
- Colleges and universities use terms like “career pathway” or “career cluster” or “job family” to denote a grouping of similar types of jobs. We tell our students that they can do anything, with their degree in English, but “anything” is very broad and very overwhelming. So we’ve narrowed things down to these five.
- They read lots of alumni interviews (we’ve been collecting these since 2010!) to learn more about what our alumni are out in the world doing. These interviews are organized not by what the alumni majored in but rather what pathway they work in.
- Students study the website for O*Net, where they can drill down in the career cluster for each pathway, see job titles, learn about the skills they need, the salaries they can expect to earn, etc. You can drill down yourself on our online Cardinal Directions schedule.
- Then students create their first LinkedIn profile and join Ball State’s Cardinals Connect and learn how to start building a supportive professional community.
Note: Have you been getting more LinkedIn connection requests lately? Every week, they connect with two new people on LinkedIn who work in a pathway of interest.
- At the end of the semester, students do an informational interview with someone they want to learn from, someone who might be in a position to help them out someday.
How you can help my students
- Join Cardinals Connect at www.cardinalsconnect.com and join the “Compass Group.” This makes you easier for my students to find.
- If you aren’t on LinkedIn, maybe give it a try? If you don’t like the vibe of the platform, maybe just see it as an easy way to mentor? That’s why I use it. Not for myself. But for my students.
- When you get a LinkedIn connection request from a student, accept it!
- When you get a request from a student to do an informational interview, accept it! But please don’t feel obligated to do more than one! I make all students sign up and try to keep track of their requests so you don’t get bombarded. Cardinals Connect also gives you the ability to limit the number of mentoring relationships you’re open to.
- Follow our new LinkedIn page. We used to have a group, but it’s hard to find.
- Follow the #bsuenglishworks hashtag and use it on LinkedIn or on Twitter (if there’s still a Twitter by the time you read this) when there’s something you think English majors should read or an opportunity you think they should know about.
How you can help me
Dearest alumni, you know a whole lot more about your field than I do.
As a writer, I know a good bit about the publishing industry.
And as someone with a layman’s understanding of content marketing strategy, I’m pretty good at helping students navigate the field of marketing.
But I’d like to learn more about how to help our students pivot from #bsuenglish to jobs like yours. Together, let’s put together a “checklist” to give students as they exit my course, a series of next steps they can take. I’ll add these items to this template.
Interested? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell me:
- Are you interested in talking to my students next fall? Let me know!
- If a student wants to do what you do for a living, how do they get there? Because darned if I know! What job titles do they search for? Seriously, we need to know these things.
- What classes are you so grateful you took? What do you wish you’d taken? What minor or double major do you wish you’d added?
- What specific credentials, certifications, and competencies do you recommend they seek out?
- Would you share this blog post on your social channels so I can reach other bsuenglish graduates? Thank you.
I’d like to form five informal “Pathway Advisory Boards,” four or five grads on each board representing careers of interest to our students. Preferably, people who have either been on the job market in the last 10 years or who have been in a position to hire recently. People I can reach out to from time to time, especially in the fall when I’m teaching ENG 269. No expectation of coming to campus, THANKS ZOOM! so you can live anywhere.
Would you be willing to serve in this capacity? Get in touch.
If you aren’t sure which of these pathways you “belong” to, don’t sweat it too much.
You might belong in multiple groups, such as if you work in marketing (Creative Arts and Communications) in the higher education sector (Education and Training).
This page might help you identify where you belong.
The “Big Lie” about English degrees
The most important thing I’ve learned this semester is that the majority of my students believe things that YOU KNOW are false.
Unfortunately, my students believe:
- I can’t work in the tech field because I didn’t major in computer science.
- I can’t work for a government agency because I didn’t major in political science.
- I can’t work in marketing or public relations or advertising or journalism because I didn’t major in marketing, public relations, advertising, or journalism.
- I can’t go to law school because I didn’t major in pre-law.
- I could go on and on…
Providing a wide variety of alumni models (YOU) has really opened my students’ eyes and increased their confidence about their futures.
I know that with your help, we can help them even more. Because #bsuenglishworks.
And thanks so much to Sean Lovelace for giving me this space to talk to you!