Major: English with concentrations in Literature and Creative Writing
Minor: American Studies
Year of Graduation: 2013
Professional Title: Editorial Assistant for the Knopf Doubleday Group
In Rob’s words, “I always loved my English classes in high school, but like a lot of first years, was totally wooed by the fancy Communications building.” However, after getting a taste for the University’s English department and taking a few classes, he claims, “there was just no way I could study anything else.”
There is a wide variety of options for English majors to explore post-graduation. How has your English major shaped your career path?
“My English major prepared me for grad school, which turned into jobs as an instructor and working in various editorial roles. So much of those jobs rely on the skills I developed at Elon: thinking critically about texts, close reading, critiquing works with an eye toward improvement, and of course, writing. Every day I use these tools. I used them when I taught, and I use them now in publishing.”
“A lot of people aren’t great readers or writers, and those skills are invaluable and can’t be faked or replaced.”
How did your Elon University education influence your initial career goals?
“When I became an English major, I didn’t really have specific career goals. I always liked the idea of teaching English, and like a lot of folks, loved the idea of working in publishing. I feel really lucky to have dabbled in both, but I think as a student I was just taking it all one step at a time. I’d say another goal was to publish a book one day. (It still is!) My Elon experience made any professional dreams more tangible…My time studying English—and in particular, the dedication of my incredible teachers—made my passions real for me and spurred me along.”
What is the best way to become a better writer?
“Read everything you can. Read novels, short stories, essays, poetry, drama. Read into your interests and against them. It all clarifies the world at large and will make you a stronger reader, writer, and thinker. Beyond that, I believe it makes you a better person, too.”
“If you can read with a critical eye, and write well, and make a strong argument—which you’ll learn to do if you study English—a whole world of opportunities opens up”
What writers are your main influences?
“My biggest influences on the page are poets like Charles Wright, Natasha Trethewey, Seamus Heaney, Claudia Emerson, and Michael McGriff. I love writers who can capture a place and make the landscape into a kind of mirror. When I read those poets, I just feel everything sharpen in a really special way.”
What did you learn at Elon University that you will never forget?
“Most days, I think about what Drew Perry said about endings, which is that they should be both surprising and inevitable. And it’s true! It’s maybe the truest thing out there.”
What insight have you gained through professional experience that you would like to share with current students?
“If you leave college and don’t get your dream job, that’s okay. If you take a detour, that’s maybe even better. You’re adding tools to the toolbelt, and they’ll help you when you need them. My path has meandered and taken all kinds of turns, but I’ve improved along the way. The tortoise beats the hare down the road, so I say be deliberate and take your time.”