Danielle Izzi-St. Pierre, 2012
English Major with Almost-Minors in Business Writing, Film Studies, and Gender Studies
I didn’t spend much time deciding what I wanted to major in. I’m deathly afraid of needles and numbers, so medical and financial careers were out of the question. I’m not an intimidating presence or a good salesperson, so criminal justice and customer services weren’t viable options either. I examined the things that brought me joy: language, literature, relationships and writing. English was the only option for me.
The running joke about English majors not being able to find jobs is simply not true. Having strong skillsets in writing, reading, and communication are imperative to a successful career. Immediately after graduating, I was hired as a social media specialist for a small local company. I was responsible for maintaining and updating the company website and blog. A year later, I moved on to Brown University, where I again managed the social media and departmental literature for a prestigious mathematical research institute. My team and I hosted workshops, receptions, public lectures and math camps. It was there that my interest in event planning was sparked, which led me to my current position.
As an event coordinator for Brown University, I am in contact with members all over Providence and the Brown community on a daily basis. I use my writing skills to communicate orders and ideas to clients and vendors. The interpersonal skills I learned through the literature I was shown at RIC help me successfully do my job every day.
By studying English, you don’t just learn critical reading techniques and writing skills. You expand your emotional intelligence, which is invaluable in any workplace application. I don’t really have any advice for current English majors, but I can tell you that you’ve made the right decision.
Kendra Lolio, 2013
English Major with a Minor in Writing and Rhetoric
I majored in English because I have always loved to write. I worried at times what I would do with my English degree, since I had no clear career path in mind initially, but the English department at Rhode Island College led me into an internship at the Jewish Voice and Herald of Rhode Island, which kick-started my work in the ever-changing industry of print journalism and local news reporting. The courses I took as an English major simultaneously shaped and revealed who I am as a writer, and I use the skills I learned on a daily basis.
After graduating I took a job as a reporter with a weekly newspaper group based in Southern Rhode Island, writing for the Narragansett Times. Today, I am the Associate Editor of a local daily newspaper called the Kent County Daily Times, for whom I write daily articles, take photos and lay out the editorial section of the paper. I have had the opportunity to meet and interview some incredible people, and I consider it my responsibility to help them tell their stories to the world. It is rarely an easy job, but I feel the English Department at Rhode Island College prepared me to take on the challenges.
The English department taught me to appreciate the value of words, to effectively communicate my thoughts and ideas coherently, to conduct research and to analyze. My experience shaped my understanding of the world and revealed who I am as a writer and what my passions are.
My advice to English majors is to put 100 percent in to get 100 percent out of your experience. Take advantage of the opportunities the English department has to offer. Connect with the helpful and knowledgeable professors and staff and utilize the many resources at your disposal to maximize your experience to gain a variety of skills that are applicable to many different fields and industries. Find your niche and pursue it passionately.
Meika Matook, 2017
I chose to major in English because I have always been entranced by the experiences that literature offers to the mind of the reader. As I delved into Rhode Island College’s English Program, my interests expanded and I discovered that I greatly enjoy literary analysis and interpretation. From my time as an English major, I gained a sincere respect not just for literature alone, but also for the courage that setting forth ideas and arguments demands. This respect guided me towards a career path in Library Science, in which one of the most fundamental concerns is the commitment to preserve documented ideas and to provide access to them.
Currently, I am pursuing a master’s degree in Library Science at the University of Rhode Island with a specialty in leadership and management. I also work part-time at RIC’s James P. Adams Library as an Access Services Supervisor. My English degree prepared me for the level of concentration that a master’s program requires and for the professionalism needed in my position at Adams Library by providing communicatory adeptness and the ability to effectively consider different perspectives. These are skills that I constantly utilize in my professional life as I interact with colleagues and patrons.
My advice to current English majors is to value the texts that are introduced to you and to appreciate all of the critical skills that you are gaining. Most of all, I recommend that you value your own work as well. Write with sincerity and courage and be proud of all that you accomplish. Furthermore, enjoy what your English classes provide: the incredible opportunity to reflect on a piece of literature as a group, the encouragement to vocalize your opinions, and the chance to harness invaluable, critical skills that you will then use in the professional world.
Kevin Broccoli, 2006
English Major with a Creative Writing Concentration
I became an English major after a lifelong fascination with books and writing. Since graduating from Rhode Island College, I’ve had the opportunity to become a playwright with work produced all over the country. My plays have been performed locally as well by various companies, and this year a play I’ve written entitled “James Franco and Me” was the focus of national media attention.
The education I received from the English Department at Rhode Island College helped guide me towards the path I find myself on now. The professors were not just wise and encouraging, but approachable and deeply invested in the success of students like myself. The English Department became a second home to me while I was attending RIC, and the support and feedback I experienced there helped me realize that I did feel passionately about writing.
My advice to current English majors would be to build your own personal community within the department—professors and other students that you trust and admire. So often we spend too much time trying to impress people who don’t understand us instead of seeking out the advice of people who want us to become the creators we’re supposed to be. I was lucky enough to have professors who didn’t expect me to mimic their respective styles. They wanted me to find my own style—my own way of expressing myself. Find people like that to guide you, and you’ll do just fine.
Philip Johnston, 2013
English Major with a Creative Writing Concentration
I majored in English because I was trying to understand myself and the world around me a little better. I was a Psychology major before that and loved it, but literature and creative writing allowed me the same study of people, yet added these lenses of art and character. The art gave me some distance and a protective buffer, while I unpacked the world and discovered myself.
Since graduating I have put my degree to use in the world of creative marketing, still studying people. I got a temp contract at Hasbro doing something else, just to get a foot in the door. I got my first ad agency job after my contract was up. I came into my own as a professional writer. Now, I’m headed back to Hasbro—this time to write ads. It was a process. There were tough days. It was worth it.
My liberal arts education taught me to think critically, look beyond the surface in any situation, and liberated my thinking in terms of perspective. The real value in my degree comes from the fluidity in thought and the application of that fluidity in the workforce, and more importantly, in my life.
To any English majors, I say—stay fluid. Understand that it’s a strength that we have. Make it work for you. Life isn’t static, it’s nuanced. In our field and craft, the art teaches us this with every great story and character. Therefore, you are already equipped to live outside the lines, combine passions, change lenses, and create new opportunities for yourselves—and others.
Emily Chase, 2015
English Major with a Creative Writing Concentration
I majored in English because I wanted to write, and because I wanted to be around other writers. I knew I wanted to work in publishing, but had heard it was a difficult industry to break into. For a while I worried that the publishing world was reserved for people who came from different backgrounds than me, who could afford to attend New York City universities and work unpaid internships, but I was offered my first job in publishing shortly after earning my degree from RIC. That is not to suggest that my story is the norm, or that finding good employment is easy, but I want to wave away the grim-looking cloud hovering over discussions of publishing that I think deter some people from considering it. It is not unattainable.
I took a position at a Big Five book publishing company in Boston, in a department I had little initial interest in but immediately came to love, and have since moved to another department with higher pay and greater responsibility. While interviewing, I talked about books the company published that I had read for class assignments. I brought along a copy of the essay I published in
Shoreline, RIC’s literary magazine. I now work in Product Management, which is one of many departments I hadn’t known to consider until I began working for a publishing company and became familiar with it. I’ve learned that publishing work expands far beyond the editorial, sales, and publicity departments, and what I like about my work in Product Management is that it has allowed me to learn a little bit about all of publishing’s many facets.
My advice to current students is to take yourselves seriously, and to be your own biggest advocate.
Curtis R. Pouliot-Alvarez, 2012
English Major, Political Science Minor
I began my college career knowing that becoming an attorney was my ultimate goal, and to that end I wanted to choose a major that would assist me in that endeavor. I settled on English while taking a class with Dr. Judith Mitchell and realizing that the skills I was learning would be valuable in law school.
Through my studies, I strengthened the reading, writing, comprehension, and analysis skills that are important in any field, and especially important in the legal field. But more than that, I developed a better understanding of humanity through my study of the characters and personalities that literature allowed me to get to know. My ability to empathize with people unlike me, oftentimes my clients, is a direct result of spending time getting to know characters like Nora Helmer and Edna Pontellier.
I am now an attorney admitted to practice in the state and federal Courts of Massachusetts and Rhode Island. I serve as a Staff Attorney at the Rhode Island Center for Justice, a private non-profit law firm that provides free legal assistance to low and moderate income Rhode Islanders. I use the skills I developed as an English major every day in my advocacy for my clients.
My advice to current students is to take advantage of this time to develop skills that will benefit you in whatever career you choose. The ability to write is essential in any field, but being able to write concisely and persuasively is a skill that takes a lot of practice and one that not many people have mastered. Secondly, visit your professors during their office hours, even if you have nothing specific to talk about. The wisdom and insight that they have will be immeasurably valuable beyond your time in school. Lastly, have fun. This time will fly by and you will regret not taking time to sit back and enjoy it.
If you would like to share your story, please contact Dr. Anita Duneer, Chair of the Student Outreach Committee: firstname.lastname@example.org