Director of Development
John Neudecker, currently Director of Development for the Diocese of Oakland, worked in the shipping industry for 25 years after receiving his degree in English.
Five years from now, the majority of graduates will find that most of what they need to know professionally was learned on the job, and almost none of it in a classroom. English majors, on the other hand, will discover that their ability to communicate, to listen, to interpret, to appreciate context, to detect hidden meanings, and to sound intelligent will give them an edge.
In my first career, shipping, cross-cultural communication was crucial. What better preparation could there have been than studying world literature of many eras? Reading what makes a client or competitor tick is not unlike pondering the motivations of Hamlet or Leopold Bloom. In conjunction with the Saint Mary's great books curriculum, the product of your English education is a set of skills, rather than a specific body of knowledge. My first job involved typing bills-of-lading and running errands to and from merchant ships. Just occasionally, however, I wrote business letters. The company president insisted on seeing a copy of everything that went out on company letterhead. My ability to write clearly and persuasively caught his attention and he gave me every opportunity to learn whatever else I needed to advance my career.
Eventually I was traveling the world as an international trade executive—an industry about which I knew absolutely nothing on the day my diploma was handed to me.