What It’s Like in the Real World After Whitworth, and Some Advice to Go With It

By: Emily (Church) Michelbrink

I won’t pretend that at six months post-graduation from Whitworth I have my life together and that everything worked out exactly as I planned, because it didn’t, but in accessing where I am now, I’m okay with that. I think that’s something that needs to be said, even if Whitworth students (especially seniors) are reminded that it’s a rough world out there and post-grad life won’t be a walk in the park. While we’re told this over and over, a small part of ourselves holds on to the idea that it won’t be me. I’m freaking awesome, so of course I’m going to get into the grad school I want or get my dream job. Sorry to break it to you, but you aren’t the only awesome human being that exists in this world. Quite a few other people want the same things that you do and may be feistier about getting those things. You might not get into that school and you might not get that job your interviewed for and really wanted, but there are still millions of opportunities out there.

After receiving my “diploma,” shaking President Beck Taylor’s hand, and walking off the stage, I spend the next four months searching for a job, and I must admit it wasn’t the funniest thing I’ve ever done. I’m now at a job that I had never even considered. I graduated as a double major in English writing and Sociology. While at Whitworth, aside from my majors, I was also managing editor for this blog, got involved in Rock & Sling as a reader and non-fiction assistant editor, and was manager of the BELIEF program as part of the Dornsife Center for Community Engagement. I began my search out of college looking for positions that would allow me to work with non-profit programs or would put my writing and editing skills to use. So, where am I now? Microsoft.

I currently work in University Recruiting (UR) at Microsoft as a recruiting coordinator (RC). Basically, once Microsoft recruiters determine that a candidate is worthy of a first-round interview, I am responsible for making sure my candidates are able to sign up for an interview slot and that an interviewer (IVer) is available to conduct the interview whether they be one of our UR interviews or a volunteer from a specific Microsoft team, like X-box. We really like acronyms in UR, can’t you tell? I serve as the middle-man between candidates and their interviewer. I am the one they contact when the have questions or need to reschedule. My position requires lots of written communications, data tracking, and problem solving, which are skills I’d like to say that I really honed in on through obtaining my English degree. While this may not be the most obvious job to come from an English degree, it’s a good beginning and proves that English majors can make it in any field. I also know that this isn’t my end all position, but it does serve as a good beginning for me.

I knew going in that this job wouldn’t provide me with a way to practice the type of writing and editing that I really enjoy doing and aspire to do as a career, so what did I do? I sought out ways to explore my interests and build community with writers as kind of a “side gig.” I joined Odyssey, an online publication community, as a content writer. It pushed me to meet deadlines and think of new content every week, and now I have recently been promoted to contributing editor for my community. Frankly, I’m enjoying the chance I have to develop professional skills and experience working for a large corporation like Microsoft while still ensuring that I do the thing that allows me to call myself a writer: write.

From this process of finding myself after undergrad, the advice that I can offer to current Whitworth students, and perhaps anyone else that finds it applicable is this: while it may feel like you’re lost, you never know what opportunity is waiting just around the corner. I also can’t stress the importance of building relationships with people in your desired field and of getting involved in activities and experiences that will build your skillset for your desired job or career.

Emily Michelbrink (’17) graduated with double major of English writing and Sociology, with a minor in Psychology. She currently works as a recruiting coordinator at Microsoft, is serving as a writer and contributing editor for Odyssey, and lives with her husband and one-eyed cat in the greater Seattle area. You can go read her Odyssey articles here.


Tunes to Get You Through Finals: Bert Emerson Edition

Dr. Bert Emerson’s playlist comes from March 2011, a time when he was “gearing up for [his] dissertation defense.” In 2011, he named this playlist “Offense.” For Bert, “these songs weren’t for getting through finals, but for winning them.” Integrate some of Dr. Emerson’s winning attitude into your finals week! Scroll below to listen! https://open.spotify.com/user/12159711753/playlist/4yq3T6f1uRC3VLdkrnuFw9

1. “Not Afraid,” Eminem

2. “Run This Town,” Jay-Z (feat. Rihanna & Kanye West)

3. “Seven Nation Army,” The White Stripes

4. “Mama Said Knock You Out,” LL Cool J

5. “Best of You,” Foo Fighters

6. “Lose Yourself,” Eminem

7. “L.A. Woman,” The Doors

8. “Jesus Walks,” Kanye West

9. “Let God Arise,” Chris Tomlin

10. “My Hero,” Foo Fighters

11. “Soldier On,” Shelly Colvin *See Dr. Emerson’s office to hear this song!

12. “Welcome to the Black Parade,” My Chemical Romance

Tunes to Get You Through Finals: Thom Caraway Edition

Start your weekend right with Dr. Thom Caraway’s “Wildfall” playlist! Click here to give it a listen or scroll below!
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  1. “Fortress,” Queens of the Stone Age
  2. “Bad Talkers,” Blue Pills
  3. “My Mathematical Mind,” Spoon
  4. “For Rock and Roll (Was Made for You),” Blitzen Trapper
  5. “The Lost Art Of Keeping A Secret,” Queens of the Stone Age
  6. “Heartbroken, In Disrepair,” Dan Auerbach
  7. “Three Storms Until You Learn to Float,” Cloud Cult
  8. “You Never Were Alone,” Cloud Cult
  9. “First Caress,” Spoon
  10. “Past Lives,” Langhorne Slim
  11. “Starslight,” At The Drive In
  12. “The Evil Has Landed,” Queens of the Stone Age
  13. “The First Vietnamese War,” The Black Angels
  14. “Upon This Tidal Wave of Young Blood,” Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
  15. “Manipulation,” The Black Angels
  16. “Hold My End Up,” Delta Spirit
  17. “Gratitude,” Beastie Boys

POEMS to Get You Through Finals: Laurie Lamon Edition

Dr. Laurie Lamon would like to offer some “cheer and beauty” to your finals preparations. Take a look at her wonderful poetry recommendations below!


Briefly It Enters, and Briefly Speaks, by Jane Kenyon

I am the blossom pressed in a book, found again after two hundred years. . . .

I am the maker, the lover, and the keeper. . . .

When the young girl who starves sits down to a table she will sit beside me. . . .

I am food on the prisoner’s plate. . . .

I am water rushing to the wellhead, filling the pitcher until it spills. . . .

I am the patient gardener of the dry and weedy garden. . . .

I am the stone step, the latch, and the working hinge. . . .

I am the heart contracted by joy. . . the longest hair, white before the rest. . . .

I am there in the basket of fruit presented to the widow. . . .

I am the musk rose opening unattended, the fern on the boggy summit. . . .

I am the one whose love overcomes you, already with you when you think to call my name. . . .


The Writer, by Richard Wilbur

· In her room at the prow of the house

· Where light breaks, and the windows are tossed with linden, My daughter is writing a story. I pause in the stairwell, hearing From her shut door a commotion of typewriter-keys Like a chain hauled over a gunwale. Young as she is, the stuff Of her life is a great cargo, and some of it heavy: I wish her a lucky passage. But now it is she who pauses, As if to reject my thought and its easy figure. A stillness greatens, in which The whole house seems to be thinking, And then she is at it again with a bunched clamor Of strokes, and again is silent. I remember the dazed starling Which was trapped in that very room, two years ago; How we stole in, lifted a sash And retreated, not to affright it; And how for a helpless hour, through the crack of the door, We watched the sleek, wild, dark And iridescent creature Batter against the brilliance, drop like a glove To the hard floor, or the desk-top, And wait then, humped and bloody, For the wits to try it again; and how our spirits Rose when, suddenly sure, (poem cont. stanza break) P

· It lifted off from a chair-back, Beating a smooth course for the right window And clearing the sill of the world. It is always a matter, my darling, Of life or death, as I had forgotten. I wish What I wished you before, but harder.


Eating Poetry, by Mark Strand

Ink runs from the corners of my mouth. There is no happiness like mine. I have been eating poetry. The librarian does not believe what she sees. Her eyes are sad and she walks with her hands in her dress. The poems are gone. The light is dim. The dogs are on the basement stairs and coming up. Their eyeballs roll, their blond legs burn like brush. The poor librarian begins to stamp her feet and weep. She does not understand. When I get on my knees and lick her hand, she screams. I am a new man. I snarl at her and bark. I romp with joy in the bookish dark.


Tunes to Get You Through Finals: Kari Nixon Edition

Dr. Kari Nixon has exactly what you need to get pumped for Christmas vacation. Take a break from your papers and exams and rock out to this killer “upbeat and low-key” playlist!

Check it out here on Spotify or look below!
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  1. “Technologic,” Daft Punk
  2. “Stjerner,” Karpe Diem
  3. “Silicone,” Mono
  4. “Vestkantsvartinga,” Karpe Diem
  5. “The Brainwasher,” Daft Punk
  6. “Club Montepulciano,” Hooverphonic
  7. “Tuna Fish,” Emilíana Torrini
  8. “Krølla 50’lapp y’all,” Daft Punk
  9. “2 Wicky,” Hooverphonic
  10. “Sour Times,” Portishead
  11. “Piano,” Karpe Diem
  12. “Autoharp,” Hooverphonic
  13. “They,” Jem
  14. “Renaissance Affair,” Hooverphonic
  15. “24” Jem
  16. “Ompa til du dør,” Kaizers Orchestra
  17. “Battersea,” Hooverphonic
  18. “Optimistic,” Worm Is Green
  19. “Robot Rock,” Daft Punk
  20. “Kråkevisa,” Leaves’ Eyes
  21. “Yess!,” Folk & Røvere
  22. “Manisk,” Trang Fødsel

Tunes to Get You Through Finals: Doug Sugano Edition

Let Dr. Doug Sugano’s dynamic playlist get you through these final Mondays of the semester! Enjoy these great recommendations by listening on Spotify or looking below, and be sure to let Doug know what you think!
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1. “Deacon Blues,” Steely Dan

2. “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” James Taylor

3. “That’s the Way of the World,” Earth, Wind and Fire

4. “A Song for You,” Donny Hathaway

5. “Stormy Weather,” Etta James

6. “Take Me to Church,” Hozier

7. “To Zion,” Lauren Hill

8. “Lovely Day,” Bill Withers

9. “Can’t Find My Way Home,” Blind Faith

10. Fantasia in D Minor, Mozart—Mitsuko Uchida, pianist

11. “Gold to Glass,” Revivalists

12.“Cheek to Cheek,” Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga

13. “Improvisation on Dona Nobis,” Yo-Yo Ma and other artists

14. “This Little Light of Mine,” Yo-Yo Ma and Amelia Zirin-Brown

Tunes to Get You Through Finals: Fred Johnson Edition

Do you need a study break? Are you looking for fresh new music? Whitworth’s very own English department has what you need to make it through the semester. In the midst of this finals season, explore a great new playlist inspired and compiled by Dr. Fred Johnson!
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To add a bit of “Crime & Prayer” to your study sessions, click here https://open.spotify.com/user/123344969/playlist/4fNSah84p4p2gd5VcaJjaE or scroll below! Happy listening!

  1. “Lawyers, Guns And Money,” Warren Zevon
  2. “Resume,” Vigilantes Of Love
  3. “Dig for Fire,” Pixies
  4. “Blackbirds,” Erin McKeown
  5. “Gun Street Girl,” Tom Waits
  6. “Shine A Light,”Wolf Parade
  7. “Is There A Ghost,” Band of Horses
  8. “Irons in the Fire,” Marshall McLean
  9. “The Lust, the Flesh, the Eyes and the Pride of Life,” 77s
  10. “I Will Dare,” The Replacements
  11. “Breath Deep,” Lost Dogs
  12. “Pray Naked,” 77s
  13. “The Magnificent Seven Live at She Stadium,” The Clash
  14. “Armageddon Time Live at Shea Stadium,” The Clash
  15. “Magnificent Seven(Return) Live at Shea Stadium,” The Clash
  16. “Under Pressure Remastered 2011,” Queen David Bowie
  17. “It’s the End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine),” R.E.M.
  18. “Debaser,” Pixies

This Whitworth Life: Jake McCollough (’18)

On Wednesday, November 29, at 5:30 pm, EL 347 Creative Nonfiction Workshop will host the (mostly) annual This Whitworth Life: Whitworth’s Untold Stories in the HUB MPR. The event brings together students, staff, faculty, alumni, board members, administrators, and other Whitworthians to share some of their true and “untold” stories. The 2017 cast includes Rachel Aldridge, Judy Dehle, Lauren Klepinger, Leroy “Mac” McCall, Quincy McCune, John Sowers, Claire Symons, Raja Tanas, and Logan Veasy.

For a taste of the kinds of stories you’ll hear on November 29, here’s “The Ten-Year-Old Elephant” by EL 347 student Jake McCollough: Jake McCollough is a senior at Whitworth and is majoring in English. Jake enjoys writing fiction and poetry, the following piece is one of his first forays into the creative non-fiction genre. He describes the story as “deeply personal” and expressed that it was “difficult to write due to its sensitive and complicated topic.” Please enjoy Jake Mccullough’s piece, “The Ten-Year-Old Elephant.”


The Ten-Year-Old Elephant

            The doorbell rings and I open the door. My aunts, Alex and Vanessa, have come to visit with their respective boyfriends, Brandon and Chima. Behind them is the family elephant, massive, imposing, and glaringly obvious. My family and potential family greet me with squeals, hugs, questions and smiles. We walk into the living room and they smother my mom, their sister, with more hugs. The elephant follows silently behind them, impossibly heavy, its footsteps reverberating years into the past, calling up old wounds and unspoken agreements. The bamboo boards beneath its feet buckle under the weight of ten years of familial estrangement. It strides into the room and stands in the center of my mingling family, directly over the coffee table and the drinks my mother has set out for the visitors.

            The house is soon filled with laughter, but it is merriment tinged with awkwardness, sadness, and separation. They ask if my sister and I are dating anyone, how school and swimming are going, my plans for the future, etc. We make small talk and catch each other up on what has been going on in our lives. Sometimes I forget we are related. Soon, like always, Alex and Vanessa begin reminiscing about when my sister and I were babies and how we would run happily through the house of our maternal grandmother, Lydia (the mother of Alex, Vanessa and my mom), and her husband, Mike. Mike and Lydia’s names are never actually mentioned, but the conversation pauses almost imperceptibly before continuing. We all know who is being referred to. No one says anything, but we all look toward the elephant. We all know it’s there. It trumpets loudly, but only we can hear it.

          After an hour or two its time for the guests to leave. They pack up, leaving behind their hallmark of half eaten food and a forgotten scarf or glove. They promise to come back soon. This usually means months later. As I close the front door, the elephant squeezes past me and out into the night, waving good bye with its trunk. In the silence that follows I can almost here the final series of fights between my parents and grandparents that ended our contact with them, the dreaded conversations about the horrors of alcoholism that followed, and family secrets that I regret ever having to learn. I turn towards the rest of my family. They look just as relieved as I feel that the elephant has left.

            We still have contact with Alex and Vanessa, but we only see them during the holidays or maybe a few times over the summer. We have absolutely no communication with Mike and Lydia. Alcoholism has engulfed them in a tidal wave of wine, sweeping them permanently out of my life. The girls have contact with Mike and Lydia and act like nothing has changed. They are 18 and 20 years younger than my mom, the product of Lydia’s second marriage to Mike. He pays for everything the girls want or need. Money is hard to refuse even if it comes at the price of abuse and watching your parents slowly drown themselves in wine, STIs, and tax evasion. No one talks about the estrangement, but we all know about it. It lives in all of our minds, a permanent reminder of a family torn apart by severe alcoholism and unhealthy family dynamics. The elephant is always present when we come together, we just choose to ignore it the best we can.

Isabella Santos: From Ballet to Outdoor Explorations

A common misconception about English majors is that “real” careers aren’t made from English degrees. The “starving artist” archetype, the construed belief that one cannot study what they are passionate about without ending up in their parent’s basement. Luckily, this stereotype is proven false by an amazing Whitworth alumni, Isabella Santos.

A native Spokane dweller, Santos would never have imagined herself in her current career post-graduation. At Whitworth, she graduated with the Literature track of the English degree. This academic decision to graduate with English was a “no brainer,” yet, the decision to attend school itself was under much debate for Santos. As an adolescent, Santos spent 14 years as a ballet dancer. It wasn’t until her senior year of high school that she elected to pursue higher education instead of dance. Though a difficult decision (choosing Whitworth over a professional dance career), without having made it, Santos would not have ended up in the wonderful career she has now entered.

Santos works as a program coordinator for Peak 7 Adventures. Peak 7 Adventures is a nonprofit organization which seeks to give outdoor adventure opportunities to marginalized youth. Their primary goal is to bridge “the gap between outdoor adventure and socioeconomic status.” Though her current career was not anticipated by her as an undergraduate student, she has not been disappointed by the experience. In her field, there are many ways to apply her skills from her English degree to real life situations. Santos states: “The tools of being able to think critically… and understand people in different ways is all so important… ”

While her work consists much of logistics and other such office work, some of her work includes field work as a guide. Santos describes this past Summer, when she was paid as a part of her job to climb Mt. Baker multiple times. Working directly with the youth calls for using skills she learned through her English Literature major. “I don’t know what it’s like to be an African American youth from urban Seattle but… I can ask them questions… and I can allow them to tell their story.” At Whitworth, Santos learned to ask hard questions and to have hard questions asked of her.

Santos advises current Whitworth English Majors and students, to “give yourself grace…that allows you to learn from the experience of being an English major and not end up crying in your professor’s office.” She argues that focusing on overachievement can subtract from developing your own identity. While the Whitworth English department offers a unique and fantastic environment, keep in mind that individuality matters and that there is life beyond Whitworth.

The transition from college to one’s career can be difficult, but this period of life serves as excellent preparation for the future. Bella’s post-graduate experience shows that writing and editing do not have to be the end-all-be-all options for English majors. The likelihood is that in the future, most will receive opportunities to end up like Bella Santos: working somewhere unexpected yet serving well and truly loving one’s career.

By Adira McNally

Kathryn Smith Poetry Reading! 11.15.2017

On November 15th, the Whitworth English Department will be hosting poet and nonfiction author, Kathryn Smith.


Her most recent works within her book, BOOK OF EXODUS, examine wilderness, loneliness and faith. This collection of poems follow an imagined Russian family’s experiences and trials while living in Siberia.

There will be a reception immediately following the reading in the Red Room directly across from Stage 2 in Cowles Auditorium.

Wednesday, November 15th


Cowles Auditorium, Stage 2

Find out more about Kathryn Smith and her work on her website: https://kathrynsmithpoetry.com