The British flag, an empty parking lot, and a long, glass wall: the first three things I saw when arriving to my job shadowing day. As I pulled into the “Visitor” space, I was still trying to determine why Oxford University Press has an office in Cary, North Carolina of all places. And I’ll admit, I was a bit nervous, and in need of a good distraction. I strode through the front door, anxious yet curious.
Prior to the day, I had no thoughts of pursuing a career in publishing. Being an English major at Davidson, I was taught that I could go anywhere, do anything with the skills I’ve accrued. The outside world, however, was not as encouraging. Instead, people asked me, “so what will you do with that major?” How do you answer that question?
In November of my senior year, I still had no satisfactory reply, and I figured taste-testing a few different jobs was a good place to start. So, I strode into the Oxford University Press reception area, half-excited, half-terrified, and completely ready to learn.
I expected there to be moments of down time, when my job shadowing host would have to complete a small task or run an errand, but not so. My job shadowing host planned a full day for me, filled with real meetings, discussions, and introductions to employees in various departments of the company. I even toured the massive warehouse, from which all OUP books and products are distributed in the United States. Fun fact: Amazon buys so many books from OUP that it has its own special section.
The people I met at OUP proved to be invaluable. I gained access to an extensive network of working professionals willing to help, educate and inspire me in this line of work. I remained in contact with several of them after my visit, and my job shadowing host took a particular interest in my career aspirations, sending me potential job opportunities and lengthy emails containing critical advice. The connections I made at the Press enabled me to follow an entirely different path than I anticipated, and I only wish I could have participated in this program sooner than I did.
So I end with an urgent message to Davidson underclassmen: please, if you do anything during your career search, USE THIS PROGRAM. You will learn so much. You will meet people willing to help you in your journey. And you will finally have a few answers in your pocket when someone asks that dreadful question “so what are you going to do with that major?” Oh, let me tell you.