The Alumni Talkback series is designed for current NEIU students who are exploring different options for careers after completing their degrees.
By attending these sessions, not only will you see that, yes, there is hope for a serious and successful career for those who earn degrees in English, but you will also get the opportunity to hear what it's like to market that degree—what interviews may be like—and most of all what you may or may not have realized about the job possibilities out there, both the good and the bad.
In every session, we've tried to book a variety of alumni with different voices, backgrounds and interests. But all of them should give you a sense of "Hey—you can do this," and the reason for that is "I am doing this right now."
NOVEMBER 2022 Talkback
In our November 2022 Talkback we heard from Tia Munton, currently pursuing her degree in Library Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign while working full-time at the Des Plaines public library; Ellen Shepard, an English minor who was executive director of the Andersonville Chamber of Commerce and now runs a community development consultancy firm, Community Allies; Victor Aragon, now an editor and writer for Grubhub but also the founder of the website fandads.com; and Chanel Polk, a freelance writer and editor at Literary BAE, a start-up providing literary services to self-published authors. Polk is also under contract with Understood, an organization providing support and services to parents, caregivers and employers of those among us differently abled, or who think differently. Every one of them shared important insights for your use, especially how they use the skills they learned in your place as English majors, in the jobs they have held and the ones they work at today.
Alumni Talkback: OUR FIRST TALKBACK for TEACHERS for the 2022-23 Calendar year
In our first Talkback for future teachers in the 2022-23 calendar year, we heard from alumni teaching at a variety of levels: middle school (Jobin George, Gemini School), high school (Luke Kwasny, Kankakee High School) and university (Chris Castillo, DePaul University). As usual, our alumni told truths you may not hear in your classes, so give them a listen!
Alumni Talkback: Inaugural Session for 2022-23
The first session of our Talkback series for Fall 2022 was a fantastic one! We spoke with four alumni who have definitely carved out strong presences in their careers using their NEIU English experiences. We spoke with Dan Woody, clearly living his best life while teaching as a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Writing Program at NYU Shanghai (!); Max Wacker, who, although he graduated in the midst of the pandemic is now a making business processes simpler as a Business Process Automation Developer at Impact Networking LLC; Tom Pirmantgen, who combined an English major with a Philosophy minor to become Deputy Managing Attorney at Missouri Protection & Advocacy Services; and finally Michael Kooi, a freelance writer/independent communications specialist, making it work on his own since 2005.
Recordings for Fall 2021-Spring 2022
Alumni Talkback 1: Jobs Frequently Sought by English Majors
Sept. 28, 2021
In our first Talkback, we were pleased to hear from Allison Videtti, now Vice President of Marketing at Great Lakes Credit Union; Colleen Brennan, now Senior Paralegal at Baker McKenzie; Carl Hauck, currently a software engineer at Scion Group; Matt Kiefer, a journalist at WBEZ Chicago; and Rebecca Wiggins, now working as a Technical Writer for the U.S. Coast Guard. Each of our former English majors (or M.A. English grads Wiggins and Hauck) explained how what they're doing today still involves the skills and dispositions they learned as English majors. If there was a common theme it was that no matter where one finds a career, English prepares students with the key attribute of empathy, which all of our guests agreed has led to their success in the workplace.
Alumni Talkback 2: For Future High School English Teachers and Administrators
Oct. 21, 2021
In our second Talkback, we were pleased to hear from Allison Ruggles, Lincoln Park High School; Mimi Cross, Steinmetz College Prep; Kyle Fitzmyer, Morton West High School; Josh Smith and Hans Kim, Lane Tech High School; and Ken Johnson, dean at Chicago Math and Science Academy. This month, our guests briefly described their path to their present position (some longer than others!) and then each shared with our audience one piece of advice our future teachers ought to know as they consider work in secondary education. Afterwards, they took questions and discussed topics from what the interview process is like to how one can (or cannot) anticipate the effects of trauma outside the school as it impacts the classroom.
Alumni TalkBack 3: UNPREDICTABLE PATHS IN ENGLISH
Nov. 19, 2021
What do former CEOs of NBC, Xerox and MTV, an NFL football coach, a commissioner of Major League Baseball, a Nobel Laureate in medicine, and the celebrities Vin Diesel, John Legend and Reese Witherspoon have in common? They, among many others, were all English majors who found paths after college outside of teaching or publishing. Come and hear from our own alumni who took “unpredictable” paths with their degrees, and find out what motivates them and how the skills they learned in English at NEIU serve them still today.
Our alumni guest roster includes:
- Ian Feigle, Editor at Publications International, Ltd.
- Jenn Lee, MFA Student in Creative Nonfiction, Columbia College, Chicago
- Mark Eldred, Pastor, Bardstown Road Community Church
Alumni Talkback 4: Thinking about the Ph.D. in English?
Dec. 3, 2021
In our fourth scheduled event, M.A. students from NEIU going on to Ph.D. programs reflected on the application process, the demands of Ph.D. work (and NEIU's preparation of our M.A.s for such work), and the importance of choosing the right professors to work with! Joining us were Katelyn Juerjens (Northeastern, Boston); Rebecca Wiggins (University of Kentucky); Susan Landwer (Marquette University) and Elias Cepeda (Southern Illinois University, Carbondale).
Alumni Talkback 5: For OUR FUTURE TEACHERS: WhaT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Feb. 23, 2022
In our first scheduled event for Spring 2022 we were joined by a diverse group of experienced teachers who followed in the paths of so many at NEIU, originally a teacher's college. These alumni covered the ground—from those trained in the mid-90s and now approaching retirement, to those relatively new to the classroom; representing Chicago Public Schools, a charter school and suburban schools. We heard them discuss the differences in their experiences and answer questions about what lies ahead for you. What a panel: Katie Galmiche from Intrinsic Charter School; Toly Walker from Evanston High School; Duc Le from Morgan Park High School; and Sakina Syeda from Kenwood Academy.
Video Recording of Spring 2022 Talkback 5
The passcode, if you're asked, will be "gr+8sXc." (Include the period, but not the quotation marks).
Alumni Talkback 6: Oh the PLACES YOU CAN GO...
March 11, 2022
Just before Spring Break, we were joined by Lily Calder, a Senior Account Executive at HOPIN, Manny Cruz, Manager in the Implementation Branch of the UAS Integration Office at the FAA (Washington D.C.); and Nick Langenberg, now working as a client-facing paralegal at Stenger and Stenger (Grand Rapids, Mich.)--after grabbing an M.A. in Lit up there. Talk about a diverse set of destinations for English majors! Plenty of great advice here (as usual) about what skills you ought to highlight on the job market.
Video Recording of Spring 2022 Talkback 6
Alumni Talkback 7: Non-Profits, Finance & Advising, Oh My!
April 15, 2022
As yet more evidence that the skills one gains as an English major can and do apply just about anywhere, our guests for the April Talkback session have found careers in the nonprofit sector caring for LGBTQ+ elders, with the City of Chicago's Department of Finance, and in higher education advising soon-to-be new graduates and pre-professionals (How appropriate? As it ends up, Christine should be running this whole series!).
- Abigail Harris-Culver (SAGE: Advocacy and Services for LGBTQ+ Elders)
- Christine Amezquita (Career Development Coordinator, Georgia College)
- Santa Torrijo (Project Coordinator, Deptartment of Finance, City of Chicago)