On Homecoming Friday, alumni across 14 different majors and minors traveled back to Wittenberg not only to reminisce the time spent on campus, but also to share with current students how they have taken their Wittenberg education into the real world. Three of the group were English majors during their time here, and Reid Donato ’17 had the opportunity to sit in on a panel and listen to their advice:
For many Wittenberg students, senior year is both exciting and unnerving. Many of us will be applying for our first post-grad jobs at the end of the year. This is a big leap, and it is nice to have some advice from people who may have been in our shoes not too long ago. The theme of the second panel of Wittenberg’s Celebration of Lifelong Learning provided just this advice, aptly titled “What I Learned Along My Career Path.” Alumni from different graduating classes from as recent as 2009 to 1984 shared stories of the different turns their career paths have taken and how the skills they picked up at Wittenberg have accompanied them along the way.
The panel responses fused personal narratives with advice about how to pitch the value of a liberal arts education to potential employers. More than one of the panelists talked about how the professional world demands flexibility, and that a liberal arts education prepares you for this. Your career may require you to communicate with people with different perspectives. The panelists related stories of working with people from technical and creative backgrounds, as well as people of different generations and cultures.
The panelists also fielded questions from the audience. Some audience members asked about fondest memories from Wittenberg and plans for homecoming weekend. Others prompted some insightful practical career advice. Some of the major takeaways were:
1. Don’t be too rigid in your career planning. Opportunities may appear that set you on a path that you hadn’t previously considered. Be flexible and be open to learning new things. Your degree (whatever it may be in) cannot prepare you for everything, so take a chance on an opportunity even if you are outside of your comfort-zone — you will learn by doing.
2. Be confident while also looking for constructive feedback on how you can improve.
3. This last one struck me as particularly pertinent — Don’t think of networking as awkward or think of it as cheating. Alumni can help connect you with employers who are looking for talented new employees. Personal recommendations from Alumni can open up a lot of opportunities.
There were also prizes given out at the end and I was one of the winners. We were given a copy of Dr. Frank Wood’s (one of the panelists) book Thriving with Stress. It relates the stress-management strategies that Dr. Wood teaches to the employees of a wide range of businesses. It is worth checking out.
– Reid Donato
Alumni pictured above:
Sarah Morrison (English; Class of 2002)
Sarah is the Alumni Relations Director at Earlham College in Richmond, Indiana. She graduated from Wittenberg in 2002 with a BA in English. During her time at Witt, she was a member of Delta Gamma sorority, a writer for The Torch, served on the Panhellenic Council, and gave admissions tours. She lives in Lewisburg, OH with her 6 year-old daughter Allie.
Ted Trautman (English & Philosophy; Class of 2007)
Ted is a San Francisco-based journalist who has written for The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Slate, Foreign Policy, and others; he is also a former editor at the news startup Circa, and a former Peace Corps volunteer. His work has taken him to Kyrgyzstan, China, South Africa, Rwanda, Mexico, and elsewhere. He earned his master’s at the University of California – Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism, and majored in English and Philosophy as an undergraduate at Wittenberg.
Kelly Eggers (Communication; Class of 2009)
Kelly is currently an Associate Editor for The Wall Street Journal’s Opinion section, leading its forays into new digital platforms and audience expansion. She has held multiple roles during her six years with the WSJ and its parent company, Dow Jones, working as a career-advice columnist, HR representative, and most recently as Business Manager for the CEO, serving as his right hand on corporate projects and collaboration. Prior to joining Dow Jones, she was the personal assistant to the Today Show’s financial editor. During her time at Witt, Kelly was a four-year member of the women’s swim team, a campus tour guide and president of Union Board. Outside of work, Kelly trades her heels for running shoes, conducts dinner experiments for her new husband in her tiny, New York-sized kitchen, and watches too many Shonda Rhimes shows on Netflix.