ONE option (there are others — we’ll get to those in future posts) that English/CW majors should know about: management development programs. Sometimes called “leadership development” or “rotational programs,” these opportunities involve a one- to two-year commitment to a mid-size to large company. During that time, the new employee rotates through several different departments, learning how different parts of the company operate, trying out different skill sets, and and getting the big picture that will eventually help him or her flourish in a particular role. If all goes well, at the end of the program, the employee is hired into a permanent managerial role in whichever part of the company is the best fit.
There’s lots coming up for the literary-at-heart! Shakespeare, of course (Twelfth Night, this year), but also Rules of the Game (Pirandello’s absurdist play, reimagined by a team including the musician Pharrell Williams, a dancer, and a visual artist), Stephen Sondheim’s Assassins (Lin-Manuel Miranda was not the first to come up with witty political musical theater!), and Imago Theater (pushing the boundaries of storytelling with puppets, for grownups).
And of course, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (even if you live in Chicago, you will never see them as easily or as inexpensively), the Moscow Festival Ballet, the Takacs Quartet…and that’s just scratching the surface.
Our advice?Look over the schedule (if you’re in CU, you can pick up a hard copy in the Krannert lobby), pick out two or three performances you want to commit to, get your tickets online this summer, and mark the events in your calendar NOW, with a reminder a day or two before. Worst case scenario? If you realize the day before that you have an unavoidable conflict, you can usually exchange the tickets for credit towards a different event. (See details on refunds and other ticketing matters here.)
Overwhelmed by choice? We suggest a variation of our approach to signing up for clubs on Quad Day. Pick one thing from each category:
an event that that connects to your interests in some way (a play if you’re a theater buff, a musical performance involving the instrument you played in high school or a composer you’ve heard before, a visiting performer from a country that interests you),
an event that will expand your cultural experience in some way that you desire (never been to an opera or seen live ballet? want to know classical music better? trying to cultivate an ear for jazz? GO!), and
an event that sounds completely new and unfamiliar.
Then, when the semester is underway and you’re settled into the stressful ebb and flow of college life, you’ll have something to shake you out of your routines and give your brain a break. You will think, “Oh, I can’t possibly…why did I do this…no…I have so much to do…” but then you will go, and you will be glad you did.
One of the newest additions to our Alumni Mentoring Network isTimothy Tonella, CEO of Matchstar Venture Search. Tim writes,
“I’ve been directly involved in the placement of over 420 technology VPs and C-level executives into venture backed companies across the company….I frequently coach CEOs and presidents on strategies and tactics for finding their next opportunity, positioning themselves (and their personal brand), and how to connect independently (through a private job search) with potential hiring managers – in this case, board members investing in technology companies. I’m also a venture partner in a venture capital fund (www.theexplorergroup.com),”
Tim shared how he got his start using English skills to succeed in realms not usually associated with English majors:
The IEEE branch at U of I (at least back in 1986) was the largest student engineering organization in the nation. I wanted have something significant on my resume as an interviewing senior and found a small clause in IEEE bi-laws that allowed non-engineering students to become an “affiliate member.” Truth be told, my college roommate – who is now a big time Silicon Valley CEO – was President of IEEE at the time and helped me identify that exclusion. As an affiliate member, I could technically run for office. So I gave a speech – a pitch – to 400 engineering students about what I could do for them as the no. 2 guy (treasurer) of IEEE and beat out 10 engineering students to basically run the largest collegiate engineering branch in the country . . . as an English major! Funny thing is that no one ever knew I wasn’t an engineering student.”
Entrepreneurship is a huge opportunity – not just for engineering students – but any kid with the drive, ambition, and the creative spirit to build something significant. Here’s a fun video from about 7 years ago. I found Google’s no. 1 engineer (had just won the coveted President’s Award at Google for all his work on gmail apps), and we started a company on the side together. This video was part of a 4-segment highlight show (Tesla was also feature next to us) that ran directly after “60 Minutes” across 20 million cable subscribers: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3cbi_Rm5SRE….You don’t have to be a top engineer or 4.0 business student to do some exciting things in the business world.
A creative mind is the MOST valuable thing a student can possess, and that’s something you often see with English majors.
For English/CW majors interested in exploring entrepreneurship, there are a couple of upcoming campus opportunities to know about.
Entrepreneurship Forum Tuesday, April 25 and Wednesday, April 26, Illini Union
Join the Offices of the Provost and Vice Chancellor for Research for the annual Entrepreneurship Forum. There will be workshops on the new Siebel Center for Design; entrepreneurial resources available on campus and funding; and awarding of the $20,000 Illinois Innovation Prize. All students welcome. Register today for this fantastic event!
Contact: Stephanie Larson
And, of course, we encourage you to join the alumni mentoring network so you can contact Tim and other English/CW alumni currently working in business to learn more about how to use your amazing communication and problem-solving skills in the business world.