At career day, English majors and minors explore future paths

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Students speak with an alum at the English Department Careers Day.

Students speak with an alum at the English Department Careers Day.

Annika Vande Krol ('19) | Photo Bureau

Annika Vande Krol ('19) | Photo Bureau

Students speak with an alum at the English Department Careers Day.

Biz Wagenson, Staff Writer

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The English department held a Careers Day for English majors and minors on Feb. 18. Approximately 19 students attended the event.

Six Luther English alumni returned to speak about their post-graduation experiences. The day consisted of a 90-minute classroom session with six stations, oriented to allow current students to speak with the alumni individually. Libby Caulum (‘02) gave a keynote address in the evening.

Professor of English Martin Klammer organized the event, aided by the English Administrative Assistant Judy Boese and student assistant Sam Schultz (‘17). According to Klammer, the department has been hosting the event for several years. Its aim is to debunk beliefs about how challenging it is to find successful careers after graduating with an English degree.

“There’s a myth that the English degree isn’t as marketable as other majors, and that’s simply not true,” Klammer said. “Our alumni have had excellent success with careers in writing and editing, media relations, marketing, journalism, business, teaching, ministry, social services, and law. Bringing alumni to campus for a day gives our students a chance to hear about career options they might not otherwise have considered.”

Schultz said the event made clear to him that the English major can be diversely applied.

“I learned from speaking with the alumni that there is no straightforward path to a rewarding career after Luther,” Schultz said. “I don’t think any of the alumni are still doing the same thing they did immediately after graduation, which shows that there is time to make your own way in the world.”

Caulum discussed in her speech the different turns her career path has taken. After graduating from Luther she went to volunteer for AmeriCorps and also the Peace Corps in Niger. She later went on to get her master’s degree in Public Policy and now works as the Communications Director for the Minnesota Department of Revenue.

“I was really honored to come back to Luther to meet with these future English grads,” Caulum said. “It was inspiring to meet so many smart students who share a passion for writing and reading with me. I hope that the bits of advice that I shared on Saturday will help students see that, while you may not have a clear picture of where you’re going yet, the skills you learn as an English major will open doors to possibilities that you may not know even exist.”

According to attendee Kate Koch (‘18), Caulum’s speech excited her about what an English degree can do in a variety of careers.

“I thought it was so cool that she talked about her experiences in [Niger] and her experiences working in government,” Koch said. “She was able to succeed in both of those places and English helped her with that because she knew how to communicate with other people.”

Samuel Kottke (‘20) added that the event also reassured him that an English degree provides a multitude of options.

“It can be a little intimidating to not know where you are going to end up,” Kottke said. “But from what the [alumni] said, the skills you learn [with your English degree] are enough to take where you want to go.”

Klammer said he thinks the students came away from the event with an awareness of the skills they can gain from the English major and minor and how they can be used.

“The students learned that their liberal arts education and their English major gives them a set of abilities not everyone in the workforce has,” Klammer said. “Namely, the ability to think critically, to communicate effectively, and to write clearly and well.”

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