by Sean Crouch (MFA in Fiction, ’14)
As soon-to-be graduates shift their focus from thesis defense to career plans, they face a tough job market and dwindling tenure-track teaching positions. Two recent graduates, Jackie Luskey and Andrea Ardans, offer their thoughts and advice on life after Oregon State.
When it comes to job hunting, both grads advocate networking. Ardans advises, “Don’t hesitate to ask professors for help with your CV and cover letter before you graduate.” While initially skeptical of LinkedIn, Luskey found the online community a great tool for fine-tuning her CV and cover letter following graduation. “From ‘Publisher’s Lunch’ to ‘Social Media Today,’ I was well-read on topics that coincided with potential jobs.” Additionally, Ardans found success with the website higheredjobs.com and the job listings at the Chronicle of Higher Education.
Though it may seem that a master’s degree in English doesn’t directly translate to relatable job skills, Luskey found the versatility of her OSU experience to be an advantage. “Teaching and learning for the past two years is an asset, not a set back,” she says. “Don’t be deterred from applying for a job you are excited about just because the past two years in graduate school don’t exactly match a job description.”
And, as Luskey suggests, don’t be afraid to experiment. “There’s value in being able to demonstrate personality and humanity in application materials.” Ardans, too, commented on the importance of finding a way to stand out in a job pool with so many applicants.
For both graduates, the obvious may still be the most useful advice of all: be realistic, but patience and positive thinking go a long way.
Andrea Ardans (MFA in Fiction, ’12) teaches writing and English at Linn-Benton Community College. Jackie Luskey (MFA in Fiction, ’12) is a Communications Specialist with NIRSA: Leaders in Collegiate Recreation.