Marissa Ciampi: From Fiction to Finance

Marissa Ciampi is a recent graduate of our English department 
who has come back to offer career advice to undergraduates in a series of workshops 
on March 26th, April 2nd, and April 10th

Since her commencement, Marissa has had a series of adventures that have offered her invaluable experience and insight. Margaret Soltan asked her to share a few things with us.
First, tell me about your recent time in Asia.  Where were you?  What were you doing? 
I spent the last 6 months traveling around Southeast Asia as a travel columnist and blogger.  I journeyed through Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, Myanmar, Malaysia/Malaysian Borneo, and The Philippines, writing about my experiences for the New York newspaper the Gold Coast Gazette and on my Chomp Around the World travel blog.  
Spending an extended period of time in this region gave me a true appreciation for a culture so different from the West. Though they had so little, the never-ending kindness of the locals was consistent in each country I visited.  
 You landed a job in finance after getting your humanities degree.  What are some of the biggest problems/misconceptions people with degrees in the humanities have about presenting themselves to the business world?
Individuals with humanities degrees tend to be unsure of the exact skills they’ve acquired during college, and are therefore unable to properly market those skills to potential employers.  Some candidates are even unaware that their skills are indeed marketable.  Spending four years intensively studying humanities arms students with unparalleled skills in writing, critical thinking, analysis, editing and communications that other majors do not place nearly as much emphasis on.  These are the skills that are important to an employer in any field, and make for a stand-out candidate.       
What was your own experience in getting a job in finance with an English degree?
I received notice of the job opening from a contact who worked at the company.  Also a former English major, she had excelled at the firm and felt the position required someone with excellent communication and writing skills, which the managers completely agreed with.  After a year in the firm, I became a career coach and hiring manager, and came to learn that the candidates with these critical skills were the most likely to be offered a position.  It turned out an English major in finance wasn’t so outside-the-box after all!  
I know that you plan to offer a career workshop for our majors.  What sort of thing do you have in mind?
I have created a three-part series dedicated to career building for English majors.  Each session will build onto the next, and will include workshops with resume and cover letter tailoring, mock interviews and career pathing discussions.  I will teach the students to focus their skills appropriately to best present themselves to the wide variety of career options available to them.  
Who were the professors in the department who had the biggest impact on you and why?
Prof. Patrick Cook, my advisor, always challenged my critical thinking in class and helped me to discover the many career paths open to me. Professor Schreiber has been an excellent mentor during my undergraduate and postgraduate years, and has been the biggest advocate of bringing a career building workshop to GW.

Thank you for sharing with us, Marissa, and we look forward to your workshops starting THIS WEDNESDAY March 26th. If you are interested in attending any of the workshops please rsvp to!

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