English profs share career experiences

Advice: Explore options before deciding a career

By Ashley Nave

College students are commonly asked, “What do you want to be for the rest of your life?” Not all students have an answer to this, nor do they have a specific plan, which is why several KU English professors offered their personal experiences on how they began working at KU.

Professors collectively agreed that students don’t have to know where they’re going, but they can figure it out and will figure it out eventually. University students are given general education courses to find what it is that they’re interested in and to explore options such as history, math, English, etc.

According to Neeta P. Fogg, a research professor at Drexel University’s Center for Labor Markets and Policy, “Students no longer have the luxury of stumbling into a major or making mistakes,” but that’s not to say they can’t try different subjects to find what it is they’re looking for.

KU English professor Margaux Griffith wanted to go into acting in her undergraduate program, while having other degrees in mind. At different points, she majored in musical theater, photography and research psychology.

“Gen-eds are important. You should try different things because you won’t be the same person you are now as you will be then,” said Griffith.

Post-graduation, Griffith spent several years as a chef in Ann Arbor, cooking and catering for events all over the city. It wasn’t until she decided to go to graduate school, earning an MFA in poetry, that she realized she wanted to be a professor, and now she teaches English and other writing courses at KU. She’s also one of the advisors of Shoofly Literary Magazine.

Also undecided at first, English professor Melissa Nurczynski finished her undergraduate program with a degree in English and went on to complete a Master’s in nonfiction writing.

Like Griffith, it wasn’t until Nurczynski went to graduate school where she found that teaching was the career for her. Prior to completing her teaching fellowship, she wanted to be a novelist.

She’s worked for different magazines, such as People and Entertainment Weekly, and was also a secretary for the NFL.

“You never know where you’re going to land, but you have to be open to where you end up landing,” said Nurczynski.

Dr. Moe Folk, professor of English and digital media, always knew he wanted to be a professor, but it was a matter of how he’d do it. He dual majored in communication studies and German in undergraduate school, looking to become a journalist or a German correspondent overseas.

He went on to pursue a Master’s in professional writing and a doctorate in rhetoric/ technical writing, where he spent a few years doing technical editing, web design and freelance journalism.

He mentioned that students should take on a challenge and shouldn’t disregard harder subjects because companies may want someone with diverse experience.

Folk said, “People should explore all of their interests for themselves, not anyone else.”

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