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University of Massachusetts Amherst

University of Massachusetts Amherst

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Interviews with Alumni



Feeling unsure of where to begin in determining what you want to do when you graduate?

Brainstorming on your experiences and talking with friends and family members as well as advisors can all help bring your strengths and abilities into clearer view.

Try the following self-exploration tips to help you begin to sort things through:

•    Begin by listing all your jobs and achievements. Spare no detail in describing them. Ask yourself what you most enjoyed about them, what abilities seem to come to you naturally, what connections you see among them.

•    Focus on a few of your favorite classes as an English major and jot down as much as you can about them: papers you wrote, books you read, ideas you had. See if you can identify 4 or 5 things you learned to do as an English major that might be useful in a non-academic context. How could you imagine yourself using these? In what kinds of settings and for what kinds of projects?

•    Go to the Career Services website and take one of their on-line self-assessments (, or make an appointment with an advisor there to take the Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator, which identifies your personality type, strengths, and preferences as they relate to a potential career. Or do a values inventory, asking yourself what things matter to you most in life. Adventure? Relationships? Job Security? Collaboration? Independence? What do you want to contribute to the world, and what do you want to want to receive?

What you glean from these activities is the first crucial step toward appreciating what you have to offer. You will also develop a self-language that will aid you in the job search process. Most importantly, though, remember that the job search is often a life-long process and typically does not unfold in a neat, linear fashion. Landing a job you like is really part luck, part making the most of opportunities as they present themselves, and part setting out in a direction that, at least for now, makes sense.

Laura Craven (1998) is an attorney at Goodwin Procter LLP, a large law firm in Boston. Her main responsibilities include representing clients, general commercial litigation, securities-related lawsuits, and government investigations. Her work includes legal research and writing, communicating with clients and opposing counsel, and occasional court appearances. The analytical and writing skills she learned as an English major are relevant to almost every facet of her job. Litigation involves the ability to interpret and apply the law to clients' issues and to convey arguments clearly and persuasively in writing. The same skills used to analyze Shakespeare's plays and write a thesis about them are applicable to litigation practice. – Attorney!

Sarah Coffey (1997) is currently a reporter covering business for Reuters News Agency in New York City. After graduating from UMass Amherst she worked for the Community Newspaper Company in Marshfield, Massachusetts and did some radio work for WATD-FM. A short stint as communications director for the House Minority Leader in the Massachusetts State House convinced her to abandon public relations and return to journalism. She spent four years reporting for the Patriot Ledger in Quincy, MA and then worked as a reporter for United Press International and then for The Associated Press. She returned to school to earn her Master's degree in journalism from American University in Washington, D.C., before she joined Reuters. – Reporter!

Andrew M. Richmond (2009) is currently pursuing an MPhil in Medieval and Renaissance Literature from the University of Cambridge (UK), and plans to continue studying thereafter for a Doctorate in the field of Medieval British Literature. His specific scholarly interests include the semantic evolution of symbolism and imagery in Arthurian texts, and medieval conceptions of memory and the human mind. Andrew was also active in promoting awareness of environmental issues while at UMass, including serving as an inaugural officer on the Student Government Association's Environmental Committee. – Graduate School!

Mark Sullivan (2005) has made his career in the design and marketing of games. He began by starting his own company, designing games and toys, and moved on to jobs writing rules and copy for games, creating names for games, and writing the copy for game boxes and for commercials. He later took a job as principal game designer for Coleco, where he designed word games in the Scrabble line, trivia games to go with Trivial Pursuit, and card games. He then moved to Mattel, Inc., where he was Senior Vice President of Boys Toys and in charge of brands like Hot Wheels, Matchbox, Uno, and Pictionary. He currently works as Executive Vice President of Spin Master Toys. He has spoken about games on such programs as Good Morning America and Nightline and was Mattel's judge on The Apprentice, responsible for reviewing toy concepts created by two teams, choosing the winner, and explaining the choice to Donald Trump, the teams, and 20 million viewers. – Marketing and Game Design!

To read interviews of English alumni by students in Prof. Janis Greve's Working Yourself Up: Career Exploration class, be sure to go to our new careers interview page!

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