Alumni Week: The Advice You’ve Wanted but Never Asked for

Beckah Porter: PWR,’16 We’ve all been there; we become a little hesitant when someone asks what our major is. What is professional writing and rhetoric? Or the question that makes me cringe, what kind of job can you even get with that degree? Yet, even after we describe all the possibilities that professional writing and rhetoric brings, the same people that were not sure what it was are now trying to give us advice on what we should be doing. How confusing. Well this week is alumni week, so why not ask our own alumnus on what their advice is, especially because these are the same Elon students that have now adventured out into the professional world with a PWR degree.

Emily Bishop, who was also featured in our last post, stated, “you need to apply to jobs early and often. I definitely waiting until the end of the summer and I only heard back from the internship I have now, but it’s been great.” By applying to jobs early and often, you have more opportunities to hear back from more companies, but also have more openings to find work that is closer to what you want to do.

Kimberly Lilienthal, who is currently in graduate school at North Carolina State University, who was also featured in our previous post, stated that one of the most important skills she took away from Elon was independent time management. Kimberly states, “graduate school is different – classes are shorter, much more reading takes place outside of class, there are much fewer activities that dictate how I manage my time. At Elon, it was obvious when I needed to do my homework because it was the only time I had when I wasn’t in class, a meeting, or at work. Now I need to make a lot more of those decisions on my own and actually think about a class-life-work balance.”

Everyone jokes that when you are an Elon student, you are also involved in many other clubs and activities outside of being a student. But after Elon, learning how to manage your time is important in order to get the necessary things completed to accomplish goals.

Kimberly who is studying to get her masters also brings up an interesting point when studying at a graduate school that many students do not think about. She says, “much more of my academic experiences are rooted in theory, which I absolutely love, but might not be suited for everyone who goes through the PWR program at Elon.” She further explains, “something that I definitely knew leaving Elon, but wish I had been more consciously aware of, is that Professional Writing and Rhetoric is different than Rhetoric and Composition! I knew this, obviously, but I was still sort of expecting to do client projects and use multimedia technologies a lot more than I do. There is no CUPID lab here, at least not that I know of.”

Unlike other majors, there are so many different undergraduate programs, that specialize in many different fields of PWR. PWR majors, must ultimately decide in which area of PWR that they want to specialize in, and what jobs will pertain to that necessary field. Kimberly brings up a valid point that not all programs are going to match the PWR programs that are offered at Elon, so it is important to understand what exactly you are signing up for.

10710889_10153235541413508_5489356113779177964_n-2Maggie Achey, was an alumni who took a different approach to the professional world and enrolled in a eight week program that bridged the gap between college and the professional sphere. After the program Maggie landed a job as an International Territorial Manager for Baker & Taylor who further emphasizes the importance of PWR classes and the professors: “go to office hours of the professors and get to know them outside of class because they are great! And absolutely come up with your own definition of rhetoric because not only will it be helpful for future classes, but it is great to say in interviews.”

Regardless of where your PWR path takes you, one of the best pieces of advice we have all heard before, “it will all work out.”

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One Comment

  1. Posted October 15, 2014 at 9:14 pm | Permalink

    I love talking to Elon alum about the process of becoming employed. Even though it’s a scary world out there, it’s definitely reassuring to see alum (especially English majors) employed and discuss how they did it. More often than not, success seems to involve applying “early and often” (as you mentioned) and catering your skills to what your potential employer is looking for. I really enjoyed this article, thanks for the tips!