Eric Ferguson is a marketing writer for Express Scripts, Inc. He also writes freelance columns for SportingNews.com. His work has appeared on Bookslut.com and in St. Louis Magazine.
Jill Ferguson is a managing editor for Elsevier, Inc.
School:I graduated from Drury in 2001 with a degree in English and writing. In 2006, I received my Masters in literature with an emphasis in writing.
Work: I was hired at Jack Henry & Associates in July 2002 as a technical writer. As a technical writer, I wrote help manuals for banking software, which basically means I translate developer-speak into task and reference information for our end users. About two years ago I was made a Documentation Coordinator (i.e. low-level management). In this position, I develop departmental processes and procedures, create timelines and deadlines, hire people, manage eight writers and an intern, and do lots of boring managerial junk. I spend a lot of time writing emails and talking on the phone.
About the Jack Henry Documentation Department: There are about 29 people in our department, four are managerial, the rest are actual writers. We write most of the documentation for our gazillion (that figure is approximate) products, internal documentation and pretty much anything anyone throws at us. The group is very diverse, with writers aging from ages 23 to 60. Overall, however, the group is extraordinarily young since we hire a lot of recent college grads. I am officially "old." We come from a variety of backgrounds. Some of us have technical writing degrees, some have journalism degrees, some have English degrees. Some are simply bankers that can write. The one thing we have in common is that we're all word nerds. We love reading. We love playing with the English language. For example, on Valentine's Day, we have an "Anti-Valentine Poetry Contest." It was sick, twisted and a lot of fun.
The work is constantly changing, yet can be tedious. Technical writing is not "interesting" writing but it has other rewards. There's something about taking an ungodly mess of information and making it sensible.
Currently, I'm a Dean's Fellow in PhD English program at the University of Iowa. It didn't take me long to realize that graduate school was a different life, real life finally. No more floundering about aimlessly. Adulthood just sort of hits you in the face, and leaves you shocked and somewhat confused. But eventually you get used to the freedom, the responsibility, and you learn to deal with those tediums of adulthood, such as paying bills and budgeting.
Academically, I'm planning to focus my research interests in 19th and 20th century African-American literature. More specifically, I'm interested in the interconnected politics of the body, home, and community with regards to black women and Christianity. Although my main goal is to become a writer of fiction (novels and short stories) and teach in a small to medium-sized university, I'm at this point most invested in scholarly work. For a moment, I had a crisis about whether I was sacrificing my creative capacities, but I realized that it's important to make graduate school fit you rather than making yourself fit it. So, I've decided to go the creative non-fiction route, as far as my dissertation is concerned.
For anyone planning to pursue a graduate degree in English, be prepared to feel intimidated by your peers. At first, everyone seems smarter than you, and you wonder if you're out of your league. For a long time I wondered if I had deluded myself about my abilities and ambitions. But then I realized that almost everyone else feels this way at first, and I quickly got over it. Dr. Meidlinger had, of course, warned me about this, but I had to experience it to really understand.
My first semester was intense, but I imagine that's standard. At the moment though, graduate school seems easy. I'm more relaxed now than I ever was as an undergraduate, but that's because of the certainty I feel, the certainty that I'm finally where I've wanted to be and that I'm the first in my family to pursue a professional career.
I'm thankful to my professors at Drury, for being pleasant people who clearly enjoy their careers and for bringing that enthusiasm to the classroom. Though I've always known I wanted to be a college professor of English, they solidified in my mind that it was the right career for me.
Elizabeth is an Account Director in the London office of Weber Shandwick, one of the world's leading global public relations firms with offices in major media, business and government capitals around the world. The firm specializes in strategic marketing communications, media relations, public affairs, reputation management, and crisis and issues management. It also offers corporate communications counseling services. Elizabeth has been in London for nearly a year, having moved there from the Weber Shandwick Seattle office. She is currently working on Microsoft and Monster.com accounts.
Elizabeth has more than seven years of experience in public relations and marketing communications. Prior to her move to Weber, she worked in telecommunication, health care non-profit and environmental non-profit. She was excited to join Weber on a Microsoft account where press hound her instead of the other way around. Elizabeth has a strong background in events coordination, crisis communication, broadband and mobile technology and client relations.
Elizabeth graduated from Drury University with a bachelor of arts degree in Medieval English Lit., philosophy and religion. She's not quite sure how she landed in PR, but she enjoys it. She keeps an AP style book next to her Nietzsche and statue of Don Quixote in her office. Outside of work you can find her camping, gardening or with her two cats reading.
Graduated magna cum laude from Drury University in 2005 with a bachelor of arts in English, writing and public relations (with departmental honors…yeah, you remember). Took a job at the Tulsa Area United Way—biggest amount raised per capita in the nation—and worked on media relations, web site content and planning all special events. Took a promotion to spearhead the internal campaign which raises $50,000 in house among a staff of 20 people in 10 weeks. I broke the record raising $55,000 and that year the Tulsa Area United Way raised 22 million total in the Tulsa Area. Currently attending graduate school at the University of Oklahoma and will graduate in December 2009 with a master of Public Administration and Nonprofit Management. Became engaged on my birthday—August 9, 2007—and will be getting married (yikes!) in October of next year. My future husband is a film school graduate from the University of Southern California, was a script writer for ABC television, earned two Emmy’s for television writing and is currently the Editor of Oklahoma Magazine. I’m completely and irreversibly addicted to coffee and I can’t stop messing with my hair color.