Four UMass Lowell English alumni shared knowledge and valuable experiences about finding work after college as recent graduates at the English Networking Event. Maddie Koufogazos, Matt Chase, Morgan Hough and Megan Posco were all speakers on Nov. 4. The annual event is designed to give current students insight on what occurs after college. The alumni spoke about how to find work and how to apply the skills of an English major to essentially any career.
Professor Jenna Vinson introduced the four speakers to the eager room full of students and faculty alike, and each alumnus took a turn delivering a short speech on how they got to be where they are now. A commonality between three speakers, Koufogazos, Chase and Hough, is that all three were not originally English majors. Posco had the distinction of being an English major from the beginning of her college career.
“Coming into freshman year, I wasn’t even planning on being an English major,” Koufogazos said, as she was the first speaker to address the room. Her scholarship applied to liberal arts, so she switched to English and loved it.
“I was an English major by accident, but I think I’m meant to be,” Koufogazos said with a laugh.
“In November of last year, I emailed, out of the blue, a publishing company who had an internship opening in 2012. They weren’t even hiring at the time. And I emailed the lady, I checked her LinkedIn to make sure she still worked there, and the next day she wrote back and said that they had a paid internship, and I was able to start working in January. That was really my entrance into publishing,” Koufogazos said, reflecting on how she landed her position as an editorial assistant at John Wiley and Sons.
Chase was also a graduate in May 2015, and began his college career as a business major.
“I started here in 2009 as a business major. And they used to say to me, ‘Well, what made you switch? Was it the people, was it the classes?’ No, it was the math,” Chase said, getting some loud laughs from the room. Chase began again after the laughter subsided. “As soon as I got to English, I knew that it was what I wanted to do.”
Chase now works at C.H. Robinson Worldwide, Inc., as a capacity account manager. He said he never really expected he would be where he is now with an English degree, but during his interview for his current position he reflected on the skills he learned as an English major.
Chase was asked about his communication skills, and he said “Well have you ever been in an English class? And they said, ‘Yeah, we have.’ And I said, ‘well, it’s all talking’.”
“English really helped me get to where I am now,” Chase said.
The next speaker was Morgan Hough, the self-proclaimed “resident old person up here”, as she graduated in 2007. She began her UMass Lowell career as a biology major, but ended up switching to English after taking a life-changing poetry elective. Hough learned that she enjoyed marketing and media relations after working for university relations after graduating. Hough held a wide variety of jobs afterwards, including a wedding coordinator and working at a marshmallow factory for two days, yet all these different jobs helped shape who she is now.
Hough now works at Enterprise Bank as a marketing specialist. She constantly works with a team – collaboration is a central part of both an English major’s work and any career after college.
She learned “how to argue in a productive way.” Hough mentions how this is a “huge job skill,” and she related this to work she did as an English major.
“That’s something that you learn in class, how to pick through those really tricky sections of a novel that you don’t agree on, but you learn how to argue with each other in a really productive way,” Hough said.
“I was always an English major,” said Megan Posco with a smile, receiving some laughs from the room. Posco held a couple of jobs before working at Storey Publishing as an associate publicist and social media assistant, but these jobs helped her find what she truly likes to do.
Posco also brought up how, during her job interview, possessing the skills of an English major dramatically improved her job prospects.
“One of the questions they asked me was, ‘Have you written a press release?’ I hadn’t in my professional life, but I had in Writing on the Job.” Posco said to use “your bank of knowledge from your English classes” in addition to professional experience.
Following each speaker’s opening statements, they engaged in a Q&A session with faculty and students. Topics brought up included advice on internships, the scariness of graduating, how it feels to have a real job, how today’s jobs seem to blend together and the importance of keeping up with trends.