A conversation with Chris Doyle, English alumnus
Chris Doyle graduated from Catholic University in 2019 with a double major in English and Drama. While at Catholic U, he was featured in numerous campus theatre productions like Our Town and The Love of the Nightingale, and he served as a resident assistant for two years in Flather Hall and his senior year in Opus Hall. Since graduating, Chris received his Masters from George Washington University in Higher Education Administration and has pursued a career in student affairs.
What is your current job/title?
I am the Office Coordinator for the English Department at Georgetown University. Most of my work revolves around course scheduling, website updates and maintenance, and supporting the Dean of Undergraduate Studies.
Why did you choose to study English at Catholic U.?
In all honesty? I wanted to pursue a Drama degree but didn't feel comfortable putting all my eggs in one basket. When the time to declare came around, I had decided on English because literary analysis came easily to me, and I figured an English degree would help me improve my own writing skills both in fiction and analysis. On top of that, being required to read more and more works sounded like the most enjoyable way to work toward a degree; I was strong in math, sure, but math was never as fun as reading and discussing poetry.
What was your path from graduation to your current job like? What advice can you give senior majors and recent grads about life after graduation?
My path was a little bit of a winding one. At first, I was looking for any kind of work that would allow me to live in DC as I was completing my graduate studies at GWU. I ended up applying to numerous office positions and was lucky enough to be offered a job at a small legal firm that needed administrative assistants. There, I was performing well enough to move into their IT department, running and operating automatic systems for the lawyers and paralegals as support. Once I finished my master's in higher education, I began applying to universities in the area, and Georgetown was impressed by my technical ability as well as my communication skills.
How has your English background served you professionally?
At HLS, my background in English helped most with my written communication and my organizational skills. Working in IT, a lot of my coworkers were impressed by the information I was able to communicate. I was also responsible for creating and maintaining instructional documents for using the automated programs in the office, so my background helped to create clear and succinct instruction sheets that answered more questions than they generated. At Georgetown, my background is coming into a lot more use with department-wide communication, course scheduling and descriptions, as well as designing different aspects of the department's website.
What does a typical day at work look like for you?
Most of my mornings revolve around answering emails, following up on tasks from the previous day, organizing my schedule, and scheduling meetings and meeting spaces for the faculty and staff in the department. Afternoons tend to be more free-form; I submit my daily reports, organize office supplies, and design and update the department bulletin boards to keep students in the know about opportunities within and outside of the department.
What do you like the most about your job?
My favorite part of the job has to be working with an English Department once again. The faculty are all quite accomplished in their research and publishing, and supporting them as needs arise keeps my job fresh and different every day. The more fun parts of my job happen when faculty have some time to kill and we can discuss whatever poet or author they're teaching at the time. Georgetown University itself has a gorgeous campus and the faculty and staff have been nothing short of welcoming and helpful since I started here.
What did you learn as an English major at Catholic U. that has stayed with you?
At the risk of sounding pretty cheesy, I think Catholic U. fostered a love of reading, writing, and education greater than mine had already been. Since graduating, I've read more in my life than I ever had the chance to before, and working in the English Department at Georgetown has been a dream! Plus, there's plenty of folks to discuss Irish Literature here, and that's definitely been my wheelhouse since Dr. Baker's senior seminar.
Do you have any advice for current English majors?
Our biggest strength as English majors comes from the sheer amount of reading and writing that we're required to do; it bolsters our vocabulary and improves our communication skills - in and out of the classroom. So, I only suggest that you do plenty of both, and if possible, expand your reading list beyond those names and genres that you're already familiar with. The classics are great, and often a necessity, but don't forget to read for pleasure, too. Having an English major under your belt opens up a lot of paths for work in the future, but a robust and diverse reading list can prepare you for almost anything you'll encounter in your travels.
Photo credits: Chris Doyle