Alumni Spotlights

Our Alumni are doing great things! From business, to teaching, to non-profit work, our English graduates are finding many ways to use their skills and experience gained while studying English to work. Scroll down to see what some of our Alumni are up to and how they use their English major in their professional lives.

Meet Our English Alumni: Hoang Michael Le

Hoang Michael Le is an English alum that graduated in 2013. Since graduation, he’s pursued a few career paths and ultimately settled in a sales position at a Seattle tech startup. Today Michael uses the skills he acquired in his undergraduate study in English and applies them to his current position through communicating with co-workers and writing and editing sales related materials. We interviewed Michael to see how his undergraduate English studies prepared him for his current professional path, read Michael’s responses and suggestions for current undergraduate students below!

Q: What drove you to pursue your current professional position? Was it a natural progression to go from your studies as an English major or did other interests lead you to your current job?

A: My current position is Inside Sales at a well-funded startup in the Enterprise Data Storage industry. It wasn’t quite a natural progression since there were so many sales positions out there in various industries. Fortunately, I narrowed it down a bit and wanted to do tech sales and Seattle happens to be a huge hub for it.

Q: How did studying English help you prepare for your current position or previous positions you’ve held? How do you use the skills you developed throughout your undergraduate study in your current job or previous jobs you’ve had?

A: English has helped prepare me for my current position because it has given me the skills needed to articulate complex ideas and connect it to the needs of organizations. Emotional intelligence is one of the key traits of a skilled salesman and there is no greater place to gain understanding of that than in literature.

Q: How did having an English degree set you up for success or set you apart in the fields and jobs you’ve pursued?

A: Having an English degree has set me up for success and sets me apart because in addition to my sales duties for the companies I have worked for, I have also helped our marketing teams by writing content for the company blog. Writing the blogs allow me to reinforce my own knowledge of the product and the issues faced in the industry. I’m also the go-to guy for the members on all the sales teams to bring their scripts and templates for revisions.

Q: What initially drew you to study English in your undergraduate career?

A: I took a “Literature of Ken Kesey” course taught by Professor David Scott Arnold and was blown away by how much I learned in that short summer class. He is able to weave so many ideas together from his extensive knowledge in literature, philosophy, and religion to connect it back to a topic in class. His quirky energy and passion to teach was evident throughout every single session. He is a model for the kind of professor I aspire to be, should I ever take that route. You could see how engaged the students were and I wanted to do something that could make an impact like that. Eugene, OR has a rich counterculture history with Ken Kesey being a vital part of it. After taking the class, it made Oregon as a whole seem more like a home and community for me. I felt greater immersion. Besides that, I do enjoy fiction and so naturally studying English had to be a part of me as well.

Q: After graduation, what paths did you consider or take with your English BA? Did you pursue other certifications or graduate programs or did you begin with your job search immediately after graduation?

A: I considered the grad school route to get a more advanced degree in English with hopes of becoming a professor someday. After the reality of that became less ideal for me, I volunteered at South Eugene and tutored to see if maybe teaching at the high school level would be peak my interest. Unfortunately, that too became less than ideal. From there I went off into sales and found success there.

Q: Do you have any other things you’d like to share about your professional journey during or after your undergraduate study in English or how studying English affected your life?

A: From articulating ideas to writing compelling content, English has prepared me well for competing out in the real world. I still read fiction frequently, challenging myself to three books a month and I still cherish the memories of studying English and all the wonderful instructors and classmates I was lucky enough to share the experience with.