Jill Hindenach, Dearborn Heights native, decided on an English major "knowing it would make me happy." With a creative writing emphasis and a journalism minor, Hindenach was extensively involved with the Albion Review, the national undergraduate literary journal, and the Pleiad, the weekly campus newspaper. In fall 2007 she became the Communications and Development Fellow at the Institute for Women's Policy Research (IWPR) in Washington, D.C.
Her first English class at Albion was Honors English 101 with professor Mary Collar. "It was one of the hardest classes I took, but the one I single out as the most worthwhile," Hindenach said. "Dr. Collar's class taught me to write so much more efficiently and gave me an essential foundation as a writer. I am forever grateful for that."
Hindenach also mentioned professor Judith Lockyer's course The Problem of Race in American Literature. "It taught me to look at both literature and the world outside with a more critical eye," she said.
"After my first few English classes, I knew I was in the right place," Hindenach said. Her older brother told her that all of the English majors he knew from college were substitute teachers. Her adviser told her he knew a man who got his Ph.D. in English and became a used car salesman. Hindenach's experience in literature and writing classes and as an editor on the literary journal and as features editor and editor in chief of the campus newspaper proved professionally useful, however.
"Having good writing skills has become an important asset in the workforce, so I'm really grateful for that education," she said. "I appreciate my time spent on the Review and the Pleiad because it also gave me a chance to develop skills working with and managing others."
"Dr. Helena Mesa and professor Laura Williams both taught me skills I'll use for the rest of my life," she said. "Through their courses, I gradually became more comfortable with myself and my writing. For me, something that was always so great about the English department, and Albion in general, is the abundance of really talented, strong women professors. It was an encouraging environment to work and develop in for four years."
After graduating in 2007, Hindenach landed an internship at the IWPR in Washington, D.C., later landing the communications fellowship. "I do a lot of writing every day for press, proposals, and in-house publications," she said. I also design all of IWPR's publications, which is my favorite part of the job."
Hindenach said she became a better writer and editor with each English class she took at Albion, and credits her liberal arts background with her success today. "Taking classes that interested me outside of English courses allowed me to apply for a wider variety of internships and jobs after graduation," she said.
"There are so many careers you can build off of an English degree," she said. "Be realistic, but try not to let anyone pressure you into doing anything you don't want to do."
Autumn Dodge, a native of Northern Michigan's East Jordan and a 2003 Albion College graduate, recently finished serving for two years as a Peace Corps volunteer in China. She worked as university English teacher at Chengdu University, teaching Oral English and American and British History and Culture. Prior to leaving for China, she completed the first year toward her master's in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) at the Monterey Institute for International Studies in California. After returning to the U.S. in July 2007, she is currently completing her thesis.
While at Albion, Dodge majored in English and minored in journalism. She also participated in the summer research program, FURSCA, writing an extensive paper, "Elizabeth Gaskell and the female Gothic."
"Professor Judith Lockyer's American Literature class ignited the English major flame in my heart," she said. "I had been undecided, but shortly after starting her American Literature class, I decided I wanted to be an English major."
Her English classes influenced her work, then and now, in other ways as well. "Professor Mary Collar first brought my attention to the importance of structure in my writing," Dodge said. "And after her class, I decided procrastination was not the best option. I have been not-procrastinating ever since."
She also credits the passion of her professors for encouraging her own love of literature, and her work as the editor-in-chief of the Pleiad for teaching her to be concise in her writing.
"You had better like to read, write, and revise," she said. "I loved being an English major, and I would choose to do it again in a heartbeat."
Izzi Bendall of Grand Blanc graduated in 2009 as an English major with minors in journalism and religious studies. She wrote for the Albion College Pleiad, was a member of the English honor society Sigma Tau Delta, and submitted creative writing to the Albion Review. She became an English major because she likes "the idea of being a modern-day storyteller".
Bendall spent the fall 2007 semester as a Web intern at CosmoGIRL! magazine in New York City, a position she arranged through the New York Arts Program. She handled content that posts to the magazine's Web site and wrote her own blogs and articles for the site. "There's also a freebie table with leftover books, jewelry and food that I like to take advantage of," she said.
"When I first came to Albion, I always told people I was interested in pursuing journalism, but I never liked to specify that I wanted to work in magazines—I thought it sounded too unrealistic," she said. "But after taking the magazine class and now interning, that goal seems attainable."
Bendall said writing for The Pleiad really helped prepare for her first journalism internship, at the Flint Journal in the summer of 2007. "When I finally began writing for the Flint Journal, I didn't feel like a know-nothing intern," she said. "While, yes, there were some things I still had to be taught, I already knew the basics." Bendall offers this advice for anyone who might be considering an English major: "I'm normally not a very organized person, but with writing--journalism especially--you have to teach yourself to become a perfectionist. People are reading and they will catch your mistakes. If you want to pursue English in any form, you'll have to write carefully."