From Cap & Gown to Career: Caitlin French ’16

I have always loved writing, but I didn’t think it was something I could build a career out of when I started my journey at Brescia University. If you can believe it, I started out as a business major. Thankfully that didn’t work out because I met Bart my first semester. 

I can still recall sitting in his cozy, yet chaotic office for a Writing 101 conference. In his typical cool-without-trying, matter-of-fact manner, he asked me why the hell I wasn’t majoring in writing. I laughed nervously because I was only 19, and that’s what you do when real adults ask you very real questions with no pretense. I rattled something off about the competition and the lack of lucrative job opportunities in the field. Sure, I loved it, but could I make it something that could support me in the real world? I didn’t think so. 

Bart was disappointed, and he made it clear. He continued to reach out throughout the year. By the end of it, he had lit a spark that I lacked all those years writing before college. He made me believe in my writing – that it was something worth sharing, that others would want to read what I wrote, and that they would glean something from it. 

The next year I was registered as an English major with an emphasis in professional and technical writing. Dr. Ellen Dugan-Barrette was my advisor, and she fortified where Bart built me up. I became an even stronger writer because of the arsenal of skills she equipped me with – from advanced grammar and editing to linguistics. In my senior year, Dr. Bosse joined the staff, and he introduced us to advanced literary analysis, which enhanced my writing by making me a more reflective creator.  

Because of these influences, I don’t just love to write. I love the writing craft. I am a compositional tactician, strategizing how a word, a sentence, a document can deliver the greatest impact. Always revisiting, reworking, and refining. 

After graduating, I faced that daunting mountain of insecurity that all recent grads come up against. I was trying to break into the very field that 19-year-old me tried to avoid. I had no experience and a portfolio that wasn’t going to impress anyone outside the academic world; however, I was reminded of the skills that I gained at Brescia. I felt empowered by all the professors that spent years investing in me. The spark that Bart stoked all those years ago was now a guiding light because I knew I was capable of success. 

I eventually landed a technical writer role in the mortgage industry. It wasn’t glamorous, but like Brescia, it was the perfect opportunity to establish myself and grow. Six years later, I am in my dream job as a Content Editor for a software company that embodies the same values that I learned and lived at Brescia. I continue to build off all those skills and lessons that I learned during my university years, and I am so profoundly happy that I was convinced to pursue my passion.