Will You Be an Alum Advocate?

Five actions to help English students thrive
Photo of two students with employee representative at job fair

The challenges of the pandemic, and its economic repercussions, are real for our students. Not since the 2008-2009 recession have majors peered out into such global uncertainty. We know that the English degree provides, to quote 2020 CLA Liberal Arts Champion and English alum Judith Koll Healey, "nothing less than a model for a life of learning and flexibility, and the capacity to undertake any endeavor or sign up for almost any job.” Alums like Healey have arranged for life-altering internships for our students, given essential career advice, donated funds that allowed students to research first books and learn new skills, and reached out with employment suggestions. With your help, more of our students will be able to grab hold of these transformative experiences and opportunities.

How can you pitch in right now?

  • Employing: If your company is looking for young people who are expert communicators, creative thinkers, and discerning analysts, please let us know. We are working to expand a network of alums who can help place our graduates into good jobs. Email Chair Andrew Elfenbein at elfen001@umn.edu.
  • Messaging: There are damaging—and unfounded—stereotypes about the low wage future of liberal arts majors, including English majors. What can you do to counter such narratives? Might you write to your newspaper about the importance of liberal arts thinking in our workplaces and communities? Could you use your social media accounts, and your conversations, to describe the benefits of an English major? Or you could simply follow @umnenglish on social media, like, and repost!
  • Mentoring: Our students benefit from the experience and advice of those who once were in their place. Would you be willing to chat with a current student (remotely, for now) about your own job and career path? Email sutt0063@umn.edu.
  • Engaging: Describe how English can better attract you to events and activities via this short survey, and you'll be entered for a drawing for a free book!
  • Giving: Your donations go directly to support students and faculty. Want to contribute to one of our scholarships, so that fewer undergraduates have to work full-time in addition to taking classes? Or would you rather help us attract the best graduate students with fellowships that are competitive with other research universities? Many students cannot afford to undertake an internship, which is rapidly becoming a resume requirement; could you help them with internship stipends? Tell us how you’d like to give.


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