Despite the somewhat romantic notion I had about enjoying a leisurely time after finishing my degree, it has worked out to be a bit different. This summer I have had very little break time between interviewing for new opportunities, IT repairs, a 180-degree shift in a work project, finishing my home redecorating project, and preparing to enter a new academic program. You would think I could see all of that coming, but, unfortunately, no. What managing it all helped me realize is that reading and studying has been a kind of stress management tool for me, in addition to being something I really, really enjoy. Studying as a form of stress management might sound unusual to you. It certainly sounds unusual to me, but while managing all the rough and tumble of professional life this week, I realized that having my reading and intense engagement with English studies is an excellent stress management tool and helps me maintain a helpful perspective on other projects.
The last two weeks I had three interviews for new professional opportunities with organizations that need a team member with strong writing skills. It gave me the chance to discuss this degree program and its emphasis on analysis and writing. The three interviews were immediately followed this weekend by a summer cold. This did bring some down time, always useful for contemplation, and a dose of nostalgia. While recuperating with a good book and Jelly Bean on my lap, I realized how much the time I dedicated to reading and studying refreshed me, and helped me to structure other things. Right now, having completed one program and not yet started another, and having no organized study of English literature to embrace, leaves me in kind of an academic ‘Shadow Lands.’ The interview process and sniffling through this head cold has helped me realize that pursuing continued advanced study in English Literature is the best choice for me from among my graduate degree options.
Discussing my academic experience with perspective employers, along with my James Fenimore Cooper binge, was invigorating and motivating. It is very interesting to talk with organizations about their writing needs. Writing proposals and communications materials does have some things in common with the study of literature. Language, after all, is how we produce and interpret culture, whether it is organizational culture or the culture of a society. When reading fiction, it is quite easy to be enveloped in the pleasure of a story. But, no matter the tale, the intersection of some very interesting if subtle threads occur in literature and writing generally.
Considering the audience is quite important, though, interestingly, the tables are turned on a student who also writes. As a reader and student of literature, I am part of the author’s audience. Professionally, I have to consider the audience I am writing for, whether it is team members or the intended recipient of our texts. Writing professionally gives me some ideas about how the authors I enjoy so much might consider their audience when crafting a story. I do like a good puzzle to pick over. Writing and studying literature are a most engaging kind of puzzle.
Perhaps having my professional world, which is so satisfying, and the academic discipline I enjoy so much meet in these interesting ways increased my appreciation for the experience of studying in our program. It certainly has made me a bit nostalgic about my study time, and helped me to realize how stimulating and important to me those hours spent studying. There is a novel perspective on studying – a form of stress management.
Caowrites has just completed the BA English by distance learning with the University of London International Programmes. She lives in Pittsburgh in the United States.