Though his career at Albion College recently passed under the checkered flag, Jake Lane can safely say that he has already accomplished his goals even before he enters the workforce.
A 2012 graduate from the Detroit suburb of Northville, Lane originally stepped on campus as an English major with a goal of writing for a publication like Car & Driver. He took the step of turning ambition into reality in the closing days of his junior year as a study break during final examinations led to the development of Car Wars, which Lane describes as an online car show.
“I went to watch the movie ‘The Social Network’ about the developers of Facebook,” Lane recalled. “From there, I felt inspired to design a website that would attract a large group of people who all share my passion for cars.”
He hired a social network developer with his own money last summer and launched the site in early August. He plans to make his start-up money back and even turn a profit by selling advertising.
“[Writing for an automotive publication] is still on the table, but I have diverted from that,” he said, adding he has a year-long internship lined up with Miniature Precision Components (MPC) in Walworth, Wis., after graduation that he hopes will pave the road toward acceptance into an MBA program. “I will learn about every branch of that business, including management and engineering. Each section lasts a couple of months and then I make a presentation to the board about what I learned. Landing a job with an automotive parts supplier sounds ideal to me.”
A passion for cars isn’t the only thing that sets Lane apart from others with a B.A. in English. He's an outgoing individual who is a member of the Delta Tau Delta fraternity and competed for the swimming and diving team as well as the canoe club, which recently defended its national championship in the American Canoe Association’s National Collegiate Canoe and Kayak Championships on the Tuckasegee River in Dillsboro, N.C.
Lane credits faculty member Danit Brown for improving his writing skills while still following his interest.
“My stories are fictional and my last one was about drag racing,” Lane said. “Danit helps me refine the sentence structure I use on the description aspect to make my writing about cars more interesting.
“Most of my friends who are English majors are writing novels,” Lane said. “They don’t have much time to hang out with people [outside of class].”
Picking Up Spanish as a Second Major
Lane said he took Spanish classes in high school, but he picked up the language as a second major during his junior year when he realized he had completed enough units that all he would need to meet the major requirement was to spend a semester abroad.
Despite already having the internship with MPC lined up after graduation, Lane believes knowledge of another language will not only allow him to become less dependent on his writing, but make him more marketable as the United States becomes more culturally diverse and as the economy continues to become more interconnected on a global scale.
“I realized during my first year at Albion that unlike the most of the English majors here I didn’t want to spend my whole life writing,” Lane said. “I wanted to stay in the automotive field, but I wanted to direct my path toward management.
“Latin Americans are a growing demographic in this country and I believe the ability to speak Spanish will set me apart [from job competitors] because it is becoming more spoken in this country,” he added.
Lane completed the Spanish major the first semester of his senior year when he lived in a suburb of Madrid. He said living outside of the city forced him to become immersed in the language, and he found a nearby pool and joined an intramural soccer league to try to remain in shape in preparation for his return to Albion and the swimming team.
“I was most comfortable when I went out with my host brother, and speaking Spanish was fun,” Lane said. “[The knowledge of the language] stuck when I was out having fun. I was just OK in class.
“There was a pool across the street from my house and I got my host brother -- who had never swum before -- to go with me, so I think I was a good influence,” he added. “We swam twice a week together and went to the gym every other day. I love the swimming and diving team and it was unfortunate to miss a significant part of the season, but I found a good way to be fit.”