Alumni Spotlight: Alexandra Schultz

Alexandra Schultz graduated from Montclair State University in 2009 with an MA in English. She is currently a Marketing Manager in the Higher Education group at McGraw-Hill Education.

What was your academic background, and what drew you to the master’s program in English at Montclair State University?

I received my BA in English and Journalism from the University of Connecticut in the spring of 2006. I had a mentor in the English department there, Gina Barreca, who had an inspiring academic career I’d been interested in following. She encouraged me to apply to graduate school. I was unsure of which program to apply to, but I wanted to stay local to home (I am a New Jersey native).

Montclair State has a great academic reputation, so it was one of the programs I applied to. It also had an excellent Graduate Assistant program that not only helped with tuition costs, but employed accepted applicants to work in the Writing Center and, in addition, offered the opportunity to first assist in a writing course, and eventually teach a section of first-year writing. This was especially appealing to me, so I applied and was accepted into both the English program as well as the Graduate Assistant program.

You graduated with a master’s degree in English from Montclair State University in 2009. Looking back, can you describe that program and some of the areas of study it focuses on?

The program offered an extremely diverse and appealing set of courses to choose from, taught by experts in the field. My passion was in late 19th century and early 20th century British literature, and I was able to take courses on the Modern British Novel, Irish Poetry, The Female Voice in 19th century England, and more. When it came time for my thesis, my advisor and readers recommended books to read, sources to consult, and constant support, all while giving me the freedom to explore my passions in the field. And, the students in my classes became some of my closest friends and colleagues, some of whom I still keep in touch with.

The program was intimate as far as course size – anywhere between 8 to 15 students - so I took many of my courses with the same students, and class time was spent diving deeply and applying an analytical lens to some of the most important works of literature ever written. Many of the courses were also writing intensive, and I enjoyed honing my scholarly skills on papers across a variety of topics.

You’re currently a Marketing Manager for one of the “big three” educational publishers. How has this program helped prepare you for your current career, and how do you think it will help you in your future career goals?

My tenure as a graduate student at MSU prepared me for my current career at McGraw-Hill Education in many ways. First, it exposed me to the very market I now serve. I manage the marketing and sales strategy for the History portfolio, which includes American History, World History, and Western Civilization.

A large and very important part of my job is to be on campus helping our sales team talk about, promote, and implement our course solutions – whether it’s our books or our technology – and having had experience working closely with faculty, as well as my time spent teaching through the Graduate Assistant program, gave me a level of comfortability speaking with instructors about their course needs.

In addition, the MSU English program is rigorous when it comes to writing and analytical skills, and those are skills I use every single day to help communicate with colleagues and customers, as well as to help prepare my marketing plans for the academic year.

What are some other career paths individuals can pursue from their training in the master’s program in English at Montclair State University?

Originally my goal was to pursue a doctorate after MSU. When that did not happen, I knew I still wanted to spend my time within academia. This was a great decision and I’m thriving at McGraw-Hill in my current job. An MA in English from MSU definitely prepares you for a career in the publishing and educational technology industry for the reasons I mentioned above. It also prepares you for a career as a teacher and/or academic – before I entered my current industry, I spent a year teaching part-time across multiple NJ colleges, including Rutgers University and Fairleigh Dickinson University. And I know fellow program graduates who have pursued a diverse list of occupations as well including Public Relations, Instructional Design, and even The Navy.

If there is one piece of advice you would give to a student interested in enrolling in this particular program, what would it be?

Apply for the Graduate Assistant program! While there are a limited number of spots, the opportunity to teach as a graduate student is one I benefited from greatly and enjoyed throughout my time in the program. In addition, reach out to some of the faculty in the department who specialize in your chosen discipline or time period during the application process. They are a fantastic group, and will give you a glimpse into the mentors you’ll have as you pursue your MA degree. 

Montclair State University offers a Master of Arts program in English. For more information on this program, contact The Graduate School at Montclair State University at gradschool@mail.montclair.edu or 973.655.5147.