The Other Road: English to Management

Courtesy of Belester Benitez

Courtesy of Belester Benitez

It’s 4:40 p.m. on Friday afternoon. The 90-degree weather outside is exhausting. In the cool comfort of the newsroom I sit with Victoria Mariscal, a fourth-year English major from Downey, California, and speak with her about her career plans.

Mariscal is currently a Location Supervisor for the Newkirk Alumni Center, which opened in January. She works for Aramark Higher Education; the Fortune 500 company that oversees all of UCI Dining and Hospitality operations. After graduating, Mariscal plans to continue her endeavors in the management field. She is considering commencing her studying for the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT), and is deciding whether or not she wants to pursue her Master of Business Administration (MBA) after graduation, or wait a few years. Mariscal, who balances a full work schedule with a full class schedule, is a testament to the truth that hard work goes a long way.

Belester Benitez: “Why did you choose to be an English major?”

Victoria Mariscal: “English was always my favorite subject in school, something I was always good at. I had a really great English teacher in high school, actually, who came for the master’s program in English here. And she was friends with another one of my teachers and they ended up teaching me two years in a row.

“I absolutely loved their classes. They were phenomenal teachers and they really made me love the subject more, so I knew when I went into college I wanted to major in something that I was going to like. My mentality was ‘I’m going to pay for it; I might as well get the most out of it and do something I’m going to thoroughly enjoy.’ And so, that’s why I chose English.”

BB: “What’s your favorite part of being an English major?”

VM: “It’s funny because I’m not a typical English major who wants to go into writing as a career or some people, you know, ‘I want to teach.’ I love to read but sometimes for me there’s not enough time. So I think my favorite part of it is actually going to class, sitting there, and you’ve done your reading the night before and you think you get what’s going on, then you go into class and you’re like, ‘Wait, what do you mean? That’s what that was about?’ and so it’s just hearing and learning other perspectives and other viewpoints and being able to express yourself with other classmates and kind of open the doors through discussion. I really like discussing what I’ve read, I guess, more than anything.”

BB: “Before deciding on management, did you consider any other careers?”

VM: “I did. I came in as a freshman wanting to teach. I wanted to teach high school English. And I was working for the library for a little bit over a year, and with budget cuts my hours were significantly cut. So when I walked into Starbucks one day a couple summers ago and saw a ‘Now Hiring’ sign and I thought, ‘Oh, I’ll try and apply.’ And I got a callback and I started off working at MedEd Café, it’s in the med school.

“It’s a small, little Starbucks-like coffee shop, and I was a barista there. I got promoted in six months and realized that I really loved it and I loved the aspect of customer service and building relationships with people. I really liked the managerial side of it and I realized that I was actually really good at it. For teaching, I had been a volunteer and taught with kids, and I remember coming home sometimes feeling really frustrated and exhausted, and realized, maybe that wasn’t for me. So, I always say I got this job by accident, but, it was fate because it’s something that I really enjoy and I’m good at.”

BB: “What qualities about yourself make you fit for management?”

VM: “I’m very organized, to the point that you can probably say I’m a little OCD. I’m very routine-based, I plan exactly what’s going to happen when, and I think that quality for me, especially right now in college, in having to time-manage so many things, that’s something that I know I need for my future.

“I think my communication skills; I’m a people person. I can walk up to anyone and be like, ‘Hey, let’s be friends.’ Usually I find a way to somehow relate to them, and I think that’s really important when you’re a manager because you’re dealing with so many different personalities and you still have to make them all mesh well, and work as a team, and get them to produce an end result that is going to be a positive impact for your business.”

BB: “Do you think your English major will help you with a career in management?”

VM: “Oh, definitely, all the time. When you’re an English major there’s not one set answer, there’s not one set solution. In math it’s, here’s your formula, here’s your equation, here’s your end result. Business is like humanities, or just life, in so many ways, where there isn’t just one set answer, where there are millions of theoretical possibilities that can all lead to one result. So it’s just whatever path you take to get there … In English, when you’re writing a paper everyone can be writing on the same quote and you’re going to get so many different perspectives, and I think the same with business.”

BB: “What are you the most excited and nervous about with graduation moving closer?”

VM: “I’m excited to read for fun. I haven’t been able to do that in so long. I think I have five books next to my nightstand right now that I started but then it’s, ‘Oh wait, I have a homework assignment or I have, you know, this projection due for work.’ So just reading for fun and taking some time for myself is something I’m really excited about.

“What I’m scared about? It’s scary to think that you never have to go back to school, when that’s been your primary job this whole time. I think graduating college is going to be the final, ‘Okay, that’s it. You’re off into the world. Have fun.’ There are a million and one possibilities as to where your life can go from here.”

BB: “Is there anything else you want to say that I didn’t address?”

VM: “I just think that people shouldn’t be afraid to study what they love, and that they shouldn’t be afraid that just because you’re majoring in certain things it shouldn’t restrict you as to what you want to do in your future. Because if you think about it, the next step is life, and if you’re not working and doing something that you absolutely enjoy, and commit to 110 percent, then you’re going to be miserable, for, the rest of your life. And I don’t think anyone wants that.

“So it’s okay to stray outside of your major. It’s not a bad thing. I think the biggest thing to take out of college is to communicate effectively, to be open-minded to the millions of possibilities and the kinds of people that there are in the world, and you kind of just figure out your way from there. No matter what you major in, you always take something out of it that you can apply to the real world.”