By: Hank Essman
The Department of English celebrates and highlights the achievements of alumni as they find careers with their degrees. This week, Ingrid Bohnenkamp, current Kindergarten teacher and former Springfield-Greene County Library manager, discusses how her English degree has prepared her for her job.
What is your current job? What does that job entail?
Until recently, I worked for the Springfield-Greene County Libraries – first as a reference librarian, then as a reference department manager, and finally as a branch manager. I had a baby in January, and then the pandemic hit, so now I’m a full-time parent and part-time virtual kindergarten teacher. As a librarian, I did the obvious things (recommended books, planned programs for all ages, assisted people with their research, troubleshot technology, etc.) and some less obvious things (worked closely with people who were housing insecure, connected people to the social assistance programs they needed, rehomed stranded dogs, etc.). For the last six years I was a manager, and that added a whole new facet of interacting with the public and colleagues in a more involved way.
How has your degree helped in your current position?
My English degree gave me the flexibility to pursue the specialization of my choice. The nature of the English major – learning about the world from different perspectives and the different ways you can communicate your own experience – shapes you into a well-rounded and adaptable thinker, which makes it a perfect jumping-off point for almost any further course of study or field of work. More directly, as a librarian, the degree provided me with a broad survey of literature and exposed me to works I might not have read otherwise. This made me a better reference librarian, since the most common question you get at a library reference desk is still, “What should I read next?”
What advice do you have for current English majors/minors who are looking to do something similar to what you do?
Think of your English degree as a stepping stone. If you pursue further schooling, your English education will give you the solid foundation you need to hone in on a specialization.
Think of your English degree as a stepping stone. If you pursue further schooling, your English education will give you the solid foundation you need to hone in on a specialization. If you choose to enter the workforce, whether as an educator or a line chef or an entrepreneur, it will give you the communication skills you need to get the job, and the critical thinking skills and work ethic you need to excel at it. I remember a professor telling me that employers like it when they see an English degree listed on your resume because they can assume certain things about your capabilities, and I really did find that to be true.
About the Author
Hank Essman is a second-year grad student in English with a passion for graphic literature. He has worked as a tour guide for the Laura Ingalls Wilder Historic Home in Mansfield, Missouri, and co-hosted a radio show for a comic book club at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota. He currently helps edit webpages for a Springfield business and is the editor of the Alum Report.