Cleveland’s young professional scene is something out of a 90s TV show—part real world, part feel-good, part self-deprecating humor. At networking events, I usually start with, “Do you like to travel?” which snowballs into, “Do you like to travel outside of the country?” Cue enthusiastic nods. But when asked what countries they’ve traveled to, they tend to say, “Oh, I’ve actually never been outside of the country, but I’ve always wanted to travel more.”
Travel envy isn’t exclusive to Cleveland young professionals; my friends from around the world and of all ages seem to regret their lack of vacation plans. If it’s not a time issue, it’s a money issue. If it’s not a family issue, it’s a work issue—and these days, it’s a pandemic issue.
I’ve never been one to let other people tell me what to do, so when a well-respected Cleveland professional told me I needed to get an unpaid internship out of grad school, I found a full-time agency job and negotiated a higher salary instead. I refused to let travel excuses stop me from occasionally running away from Cleveland. In the year I worked at that agency, I went to Louisville, New Orleans, Miami, Toronto, and Cusco.
The morning after I returned from Peru, several co-workers and I were laid off laid off from that agency job, and for a few days, I felt useless. With my newfound time, I reassessed my priorities. I met with friends I couldn’t catch up with because of work. I went to events I never had been able to attend. I soaked up as much knowledge as I could. Still, I had people repeatedly ask, “Why don’t you have a job by now?” New connections assumed I had no idea how to go about a job search. I was constantly told I didn’t have enough years in the field to venture out on my own. I started to believe in the negativity.
I love a good adventure, even if the process puts me out of my comfort zone. With my friends’ support, I started receiving calls for freelance work. My calendar filled up, and I was able to plan vacations around my assignments, recognizing I could work from anywhere if I chose. I started churning out travel blogs, articles for news sites, poems to submit to literary journals, and client projects.
If you’re a former English major who loves to travel and you think you’ll never be able to go on vacations with your salary, seriously consider freelancing. When someone criticizes you for starting a career that makes you happy, they’re probably jealous they didn’t take the plunge to be a wandering writer, too. Experience is how you increase your skills, but raw talent can’t be taught. Remind yourself that other people are always going to have opinions about what you do; it’s hard to ignore it sometimes, but the sooner you convince yourself their criticism about your chosen profession isn’t worth your time, the sooner you can buy a plane ticket.
Are you a Sigma Tau Delta Alumni member? Consider submitting a blog to WORDY by Nature to share with your fellow Sigma Tau Delta members how you have been using your English degree.
Alpha Sigma Rho Chapter, Alumna
John Carroll University, University Heights, OH
BA English, 2014
MA Communication Management, 2016
Freelance Writer and Travel Blogger, Adventure to 30
Sigma Tau Delta
Sigma Tau Delta, International English Honor Society, was founded in 1924 at Dakota Wesleyan University. The Society strives to
- Confer distinction for high achievement in English language and literature in undergraduate, graduate, and professional studies;
- Provide, through its local chapters, cultural stimulation on college campuses and promote interest in literature and the English language in surrounding communities;
- Foster all aspects of the discipline of English, including literature, language, and writing;
- Promote exemplary character and good fellowship among its members;
- Exhibit high standards of academic excellence; and
- Serve society by fostering literacy.
With over 900 active chapters located in the United States and abroad, there are more than 1,000 Faculty Advisors, and approximately 9,000 members inducted annually.
Sigma Tau Delta also recognizes the accomplishments of professional writers who have contributed to the fields of language and literature.