March 2019 in the Midwest was a continuation of the previous two months: windy, gray, and bitterly cold. No promise of spring in sight. It had been two months since my graduation in December and I was immersed in the uncertainty that accompanies the great undergraduate unknown: the job search.

Sam Mason, Hope class of ’19

As a recently engaged and currently unemployed graduate, I had already been on a kaleidoscope of interviews and filled out what seemed like countless applications. The interviews seemed to meld into one another, usually beginning with a quirky introductory joke accompanied by some folky wordplay that explained how my English major was relevant experience. I tried to find what suited my skill set. I interviewed for publishing companies, government organizations, news outlets, and non-profits, among many others, still searching for my best fit. As the days turned into weeks and weeks into months, I wondered if I had chosen correctly. Did I rush my major decision? How did this degree separate me from anyone else?

In the meantime, I read, wrote, and interviewed.

I had chosen my major in October of my sophomore year. I knew I wanted to be a part of the English department from the day I set foot on campus. I had always loved words and the structure of language and that’s why I chose English. I enjoyed reading a range of works, from authors like Shakespeare and Hemingway to columnists from the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, among many other outlets. However, I found myself wondering whether my degree truly delivered the functionality I had hoped.

My years at Hope had afforded me a couple of invaluable internship experiences where I began to shape my career path. My first internship was in Washington, DC as a part of the Washington Honors Semester. I was a congressional intern working on Capitol Hill for a representative from my hometown. This may be unusual for an English major; however, I had always been keen to learn about the inner workings of policy-making and legislation. I was fascinated with how my English major could be malleable toward these purposes.

Following my internship in DC, I was fortunate enough to continue my career with the State of Illinois, where I helped compile research reports and develop policy analysis through the skills I had acquired from the English department at Hope.

I reassured myself that I had made the correct decision, and during the spring and summer of 2019, I read a lot, adding to my list of intriguing words and phrases that I had started in college: ersatz, vaunted, jejune, anodyne, athwart, barmy, inimical, suffuse, ineluctable, and erudite, to name a few. Writing on occasion helped provide a structure to my unstructured career path. I felt a new confidence in myself, my degree, and my education, believing that the right position lay ahead.

In the meantime, I continued to read, write, and read some more.

It was in the fall, October 2019, when I finally found the path that had once seemed so elusive. I found something that allowed me to read, write, and summarize detailed documents and utilize my creativity for project and partnership development through language. I am a Global Partnerships Specialist at Lions Clubs International Foundation.

The title does not necessarily explain itself, but essentially, I help identify and forge partnerships and relationships through prospective research, cultivation, and networking events, and through the writing, drafting, and developing of project proposals, in collaboration with my fellow team members. These projects range from global health initiatives to disaster relief assistance. I count myself as lucky to do what I do. I work for a Foundation who prides themselves on their ability to serve in their communities. I use my writing and communication skills to effectively develop and connect others to impactful projects.

And then… just when I began to settle into the regular routine of work, commuting, coffee, and leisure, yet another unexpected twist along the path occurred. As an international organization, we were aware of the threat that COVID-19 posed early on. In fact, I had initially helped in a search for the procurement of masks and other medical supplies for our members in the Asia Pacific region in late February. However, I had no idea the impact it would have on my own work and how swiftly it would change the dynamic that I had settled into.

March 2020 was upon us. Our organization closed its office and work from home became mandatory. Many people experienced a lag in workflow, whereas our work has only intensified. We have had to provide quick, strong, and precise statements which convey our work in light of the current state of affairs to many of our partners. All the while, we are continually working to support and assist our members who are in the direst of straights and also keeping our eyes ahead, staying focused on what we can do to assist.

I will not lose hope, and will continue to read, write, and work.

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