The pursuable career options with an English degree have expanded drastically in the past five years alone, broadening the use and the function of an English major in academia and outside of it. English majors are working in law, counseling, business, politics, science – fields that used to exclude the humanities until employers understood the benefits of an English degree in the workplace.
One particular CU Boulder English alumna forging her way through a nontraditional career is Dr. Allison Shelton, a curriculum developer at Wix, a website building company. Shelton combines her passion for teaching and love for education with technology to provide individualized classroom solutions for fellow educators.
Originally from Long Beach, CA, Shelton completed her undergraduate studies at UC Santa Cruz, her MA in English Literature at CUNY Hunter College in New York, and then came to CU Boulder for her PhD in Literature. She moved back to New York City in July of 2019 to work for Wix, even before completing her dissertation.
“Mostly I enjoy being on a small team (at Wix) and being the “expert” in my area, which is all things higher education and course design and development. I love that I get to split my time between writing and research just like I did in grad school, only the subject matter I’m researching and writing about is always changing. I also like that decisions get made quite quickly here, and I’m pushed to really be proactive and innovative. And, of course, I love having a real salary with full health benefits.”
When asked how CU Boulder prepared her for success, Allison brought a refreshing realism to the table: “Just from a hiring standpoint, I wouldn’t have been considered for my current position without the PhD.” She explained further by considering the ways that graduate school, in general, taught her the skills she needed to be successful in her current position. “Beyond that, grad school taught me to budget unstructured time and produce high quality writing, both of which are necessary in my current position. Studying/teaching literature improved my critical thinking skills, which I rely on a lot and are in shockingly high demand. Teaching writing also helped me grow adept at wordsmithing and genre bending, which I am also called upon to do a LOT.”
More than just teaching her the skills she needed to succeed, the English Department provided many fond memories for Shelton during her time as a PhD student and candidate. “My favorite memories are of my friends, the amazing community of grad students I met and grew with during the program. I also loved getting to know my professors and putting together my absolute dream team of a committee for my dissertation.” When asked about her favorite course she took in the department, she was quick to name Karim Mattar’s Peripheral Visions course as a standout favorite.
Currently, Allison is working on many Wix projects that need to stay under wraps until their announcement and implementation but is also working on revisions to an article under consideration for publication and is planning to submit another article soon. “I also finally got back to reading for fun!”
In a final moment, Shelton provided some playfully insightful advice to current students, graduate and undergraduate, in the English Department at CU Boulder: “Be yourself – just do you. And to quote one of my favorite people, Chuck Tingle: “IT IS HAPPENING THE DANG SUN IS COMING UP AGAIN AND GIVING US ANOTHER DAY TO PROVE LOVE IS REAL THIS IS A TREAT OF BUDS LETS TROT BUCKAROOS.”