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Meet Suzanna McKinney ʼ14

'Career English Major'

Suzanna at Conan in LAMy first internship, at Justine Magazine in Memphis, focused on everything from writing and editing to styling and interviewing. I spent two summers working with the Justine staff to learn the ropes of the publishing industry. After sophomore year, I spent my summer on set at “The Conan O’Brien Show” in Los Angeles. My duties as a talent intern included maintaining the green room, preparing for daily guests of the show, and assisting with general production. To compensate me for my unpaid position, Team CoCo encouraged me to ask questions and swap jobs with other interns to observe a full picture of life in late night television.  Last summer, I worked at Ryman Auditorium in Nashville where my summer responsibilities centered on producing the 2015 Bluegrass Series, a series of seven shows that featured household names in bluegrass music. I exercised a knack for marketing and public relations in the venue management sector of the live entertainment industry.

Upon graduating in May, I accepted a job in Birmingham, Alabama as the Manager of Public Policy at the Birmingham Business Alliance (BBA). My job entails the management of investor committees and event planning to support the BBA’s state and federal agendas. Although working in a political context seems like a sharp departure from my background in publishing, late night television, and live music, my current employers didn’t see it that way. They recognized my diverse resume and found a few investment-worthy qualities. What was the common denominator? The skillset of a Wheaton College English major.

Suzanna McKinneyThrough my experiences, I have learned that the heart of any soft-skilled career is interpretation, the synthesis of information as well as its effective articulation. The English major trained me to interpret literature through the lenses of context, logic, and passion. Is there a clearer path to understanding people as well? My English professors at Wheaton equipped me with top-of-the-line tools to express my findings. Whether I’m writing articles, hosting celebrities, advertising concerts, or influencing public policy, I synthesize and articulate with confidence.

Sometimes I tell people that I’m a career English major. Although I don’t attend graduate school, nor do I teach professionally, I consider my career a daily practice of the theories and habits I formed in the Wheaton English department. I can only hope to love my career as much as I loved preparing for it.