Student and Alumni English

Christopher Cummings

What kind of professional work have you been doing since graduation?

I’ve worked in a diverse assortment of technology companies, most of them consumer-focused — ranging from online games to online loyalty programs to mobile apps. My journey started in content marketing, moved to community management, and then for the last 15 years I’ve worked in product management.

To what extent has the English major helped you?

My studies as an English major have been extremely helpful in my career. To be a successful product manager, you need to be able to communicate effectively, think critically and creatively, and work well under pressure. Being an English major helped me develop skills on all those fronts. While there is a growing emphasis on video and imagery in our personal lives thanks to social media, in the business world written communication is king, which makes writing skills of paramount importance. As an English major, you learn how to read between the lines, deciphering tone and intent of inbound communication, and also to write with precision, with an audience and call to action in mind, for outbound communications. English majors learn pretty quickly to never accept a story at face value, to always question and dig deeper to understand what’s truly being said. Learning how to understand different points of view, construct an argument rooted in logic and evidence, and then present your argument effectively — these are all skills that I use every day at work, and having developed those skills as an English major has given me a competitive advantage at work. As a product manager, you need discipline to get your work done. You need to be able to prioritize to make sure you address the most important things first. You have to often adjust your schedule quickly to address rapidly changing situations. English majors learn how to generate high quality work quickly, sometimes with very little warning. We learn how to balance reading 500 page novels while writing 30-page papers and handling a number of short-term assignments.

Have you earned any advanced degrees since your undergraduate graduation? If so, what are they? If not, do you plan to pursue graduate study in the future?

After graduation, I earned my MBA to help build up my business acumen.

What did you like best about the Merrimack English major?

I loved how my professors encouraged and challenged me. I never did learn to like Victorian poetry but I’m glad I studied it.

What advice would you give current English majors?

Some people argue that an English major is only worthwhile if you intend to be a teacher or a journalist. Nothing against either of those professions, but that argument is without merit. Be passionate about your degree, learn as much as you can, take advantage of any internships that are available, and everything will fall into place.