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EIU Master of Arts in English

Alum acquired the perfect combination of skills and experience through English MA program

Betsy Wells

Betsy Wells ‘12, Communications Manager
Saint-Mary-of-the-Woods College, Saint-Mary-of-the-Woods, IN

In her own words …

Tell us about your current job.
My current position is Communications Manager at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College in Indiana. As Communications Manager, I manage the College's social media accounts including, but not limited to, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. I am also responsible for developing social media strategies and goals. Additionally, I write press releases, articles, and copy for the website and promotional materials for the college and serve as assistant editor of the alumnae/i magazine.

What is a typical day like?
The majority of my work is done from my computer. The Director of Publications, the Executive Director of College Relations, and the Vice President of Advancement assign me duties throughout the day by emailing me assignments or ideas. I have a to-do list of press releases and articles, and I usually write 1-2 of those per day. I am constantly plugged in to the social media accounts, checking those every hour for mentions of our college, retweets, posts, etc. A large part of my day is also spent conducting research on the Internet. Social media is constantly changing so I have to stay on top of current trends in the market. Additionally, one of my first big projects is updating the College's Wikipedia page.

What surprised you about your job?
I was definitely surprised by the amount of research I have to do. I guess I imagined that research would end after graduating, but it doesn't. Whether I'm studying current trends in social media, interviewing a faculty member, reviewing information on our website, or analyzing strategies of other universities, research is a big part of my day.

Tell us a little about your career path/job searches?

I began looking for a full-time position while working on my thesis (titled “Project in Grant Proposal Writing”) in May 2012. After applying for over 50 full-time positions (only a handful of which were in the field I desired), I obtained a job in the advertising department of a newspaper as a sales representative. I got the job immediately after finishing my master's degree. I continued job searching while working full-time. Although I applied for over 25 positions in my field, I only received one call for an interview, which was for my current position. It is a tough market.

How has your English MA contributed to the skills you use in this job?
My master's degree (with a concentration in professional writing) definitely gave me the skills and experience I needed to get this job. A large part of my master's degree was my graduate assistantship. As the presidential graduate assistant, I worked in the EIU Writing Center as Statistics Coordinator, PR Coordinator, Orientation Coordinator, and Web Developer. My duties as PR Coordinator and Web Developer are very similar to some of the duties in my current position. My internship in PR/Marketing also added to my professional experience. And of course, the classes I took added to my skills. In my interview for this position, I talked about all three of those aspects of my graduate degree, and those combined experiences are what got me the job.

What advice do you have for current English MA students about career planning? About how to get the most out of the English MA program?
Try to get as much real-world experience as possible. Job shadow and intern if possible. If it's not required for any of your courses, do an independent study that involves both job shadowing and interning in your desired field. Just going to class and getting the degree isn't enough. Businesses and organizations have to look for more than that with the competitive job market that is today's reality. Make sure that you have those real experiences that will make you the front-runner for a position.


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