Recently we had a chance to talk to Kelly McEathron, an English graduate from the University of Illinois at Urbana -Champaign, who works as a Management Trainee at Cintas. Kelly is currently in her 1st rotation out of 4 for Direct Sale and Strategic Market. With every day being different and exciting at work, Kelly likes to unwind by hanging out with friends and family, exploring the city, and walking the dogs. She said many great things about jobs, careers, and qualities expected from a candidate.
What is your current job? What do you like about it? Where do you hope to go from here?
I am a Management Trainee at Cintas and absolutely love working here. I love how every day is different and presents new challenges. Though I just started in July and still have a year and a half before I graduate the program, as of now I hope to eventually work my way up to a senior account manager. With this Management Trainee program, I do four rotations in each department so that I learn more about the other departments. In these rotations I will get a better understanding of where I would like to go in the company.
How has your background in English helped you in your career? What skills that you learned in your college classes do you find yourself using now?
My English degree has helped me in my career in many different ways. One of the most important thing that I have learned from my English studies is how to write a concise email while still including details. There is nothing more annoying than long emails that don’t have specific points. I guess that is another way my degree has helped- picking the main points of an email. As for skills that I have brought with me from college, I would say that time management is a huge one, being able to communicate effectively, and networking. I know it may not seem like college kids network in class but making friends in class who you can count on for notes or similar situations definitely transfer over to a work environment because knowing people help get situations resolved quickly.
From your experience, could you tell us what qualities employers seek in a candidate and how English studies prepares students to attain them?
I think employers seek a person who can communicate effectively, who is driven and organized. I think that English degree can help with the communication and organization; however, being competitively driven while still being a part of a team is almost as important. Companies look for someone who is willing to prove themselves and work hard- driven by a goal to be the best but who is still working towards a team goal.
Would you give some suggestion to our undergrads regarding how to make the transition from college to working life?
Some suggestions that I recommend on how to make the transition from college to real life is to not rush the transition. You don’t need to move out of your parents’ house right away, get a new car, and be wasteful with money. Give yourself time to adjust to working full time, understand that you can’t go out on a Tuesday anymore because you have to be up early for work, and just be real with yourself. While you may miss the fun times of college trust me in the fact that getting a paycheck every week or every other week is way better.
What advice do you have for the students interested in exploring the field you are in now?
My advice for people interested in exploring Management Trainee programs is to take an alternate route. I know English majors are almost pigeon-holed to teaching, publishing, editing etc., but honestly the environment that I am working in is awesome. I get to work with my manager to see where my next rotation would be as if I am tailoring the program to myself and where I see myself going in the future. Take the chance to do something that we are not really pushed to in college because it was probably one of the best choices I made!