Jennifer Ashbaugh (BA ’04)
Degree(s) and graduation year:
JA: I graduated in 2004 with a degree in English.
Overview of career after graduation and current position:
JA: I’ve actually worked for Big Brothers, Big Sisters my entire career, which is now 11 years. I got a job with the company in Oklahoma and worked there for three years doing volunteer recruitment and marketing and then got a position at the national office. I currently raise money from national corporate partnerships in Philadelphia where Big Brothers, Big Sisters is headquartered. The bulk of what I do now is manage relationships with different companies like Nordstrom Rack, the NFL, Dial Soap and a variety of other groups.
How has your degree shaped your success in fields not strictly related to English?
JA: I’ve met a ton of English majors that are also working in development and marketing. Laura Stevens assigned long books that you had to get all the way through, but then also be able to process and explain the text to others, which is what I’ve done my entire professional career. I read the annual reports of companies to see what their organizations stand for and then process that information to see if a partnership would be a good fit. Being an English major, I have found that I am good at analyzing and quickly synthesizing content.
What would you say to someone who is apprehensive about majoring in English?
JA: I’m now 15 years out of college and I’m at the point in my career where I’m hiring folks. What I like about seeing someone with a liberal arts degree is it tells me that more often than not, you know how to think and you know how to write, you have great critical thinking skills and you can clearly communicate with me and others. Whenever I’m hiring, I’m also looking to see what you’ve done beyond your degree. You can’t count on your degree alone to get you through. There are a lot of opportunities to take advantage of at TU like campus involvement, internships and recommendations from your professors to distinguish yourself.
The real power of going to TU is that by the time I graduated, almost everybody in the liberal arts group knew me — from the deans, to my professors, to my classmates and those were powerful connections to have as I started my career. My sister went to the big state school where she was just a number. Going someplace a little smaller lets you have stronger relationships with people that can also open doors to you later.
Highlight from college:
JA: Today’s society is dealing with the crisis of “Will my job still be here tomorrow?” and “What will I do with my life?” These are questions that even I am reckoning with. I recently returned to work after having my second kid and trying to figure out what work life balance looks like is tricky. I’m trying to figure out what I want my life to look like. I got the best advice from Dr. Stevens my sophomore year when I was trying to decide between three double majors. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, and her advice was to see what classes I enjoyed taking and to take more of those classes. It is easy to study and work when you like the material or your job. I loved being an English major because I loved my professors and I loved the classes for the most part. I still hate James Joyce though. Choosing a path that makes you happy will make you successful.