Joseph H., English (Higher Education Administration)
Alumni Advisor
Major:BA English
Grad Year:2000
Career Sector:Higer Ed Communications
Graduate Degree:MA Technical Communication and Rhetoric
Current Job Title:Leadership Program Officer
Current Employer:Southern Methodist University

What was your career path that led you to your current position?

I had done some initial work in development and student services while at the University of Dallas and immediately after. While doing graduate studies in rhetoric I realized I really valued higher education as an institution and decided to focus on higher education administration as a career path.

What kind of credentials, education, training, prior experience are needed?

For technical communication, graduate training up through an MA can provide you with increased options and a broader sense of the field. To begin work in technical communication, however, the following are necessary: a strong background in writing (journalism, English, or communications are the most requested study areas; some external familiarity such as premed, engineering and the physical sciences, accounting, or education is very helpful (it's common for advisors in technical communication to say that while your major unlocks the door, it's your minor that says which door will open); and basic proficiency in HTML and XML will be a huge thing as will credentials that demonstrate it. Ultimately, though, what you need is a portfolio that demonstrates some broad confidence in writing in a variety of technically difficult genres. For Higher Education Administration: You'll want an MA eventually, possibly even a PhD. While the field is pretty flexible about the discipline, specialized training can give you more control over your career trajectory. Gaining basic knowledge of stats and enterprise management or database software is also very helpful. Certifications for those programs can be a real asset. And you'll want to try a lot of things out in undergrad. A semester as an RA opens up a lot of positions in student services, for instance, that even advanced later training or equivalent residential work might leave closed. You'll want to get to know the people doing this work at your own school. Recommendations can set you on a lot of different paths.

How was your major and/or your degree from UD related to your current work?

My major in English at UD opened up Technical Communication and Rhetoric for me to a surprising degree. You will have to do some catching up, but that's true for everyone going into the field - particularly pursuing graduate education - and any UD student will likely be surprised at the degree to which the field seriously considers classical education. Rhetoric is considered a strong theoretical backing for the field, and in American academia rhetoric is largely conceived of as a cohesive tradition going back to the pre-Socratics. You are going to read a lot of Aristotle and a lot of history. Having experience writing long form papers and theses helps as well. I also did a lot of work for the then-Student Life office and the office of Institutional Advancement, both of those, and many of the connections I made at UD, were influential in my later work.


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