From Simpkins Hall to Healthcare Waiting Rooms

By Abigail Tichler

WIU Graduate, Class of 2015 — Clear Digital Media’s Hearing News Network Product Manager — Guest Writer

abigail t 3
Image Courtesy of Abigail Tichler

In the Spring of 2015, I felt fearless as I walked across the stage to accept my Master’s Degree in English from Western Illinois University. I had put six years of hard work into a degree that I was passionate about and confident in. However, about forty-eight hours after the ceremony, the graduation glow had worn off and the cold dread of reality started to set in. I would now need to find a job. Insert dramatic music here.

I’d had it in my mind that my English degree would limit me to jobs in teaching, writing, publishing, and editing. After all, that is what all of my peers, professors, and classmates had pursued. But I wasn’t interested in teaching and I knew that book publishing was sadly a highly competitive and geographically limited field. With a belly full of hot panic, I started to research what else I could do with this degree. After a few Google searches and several dozen hours on job searching sites, I quickly learned how applicable an English degree is in a wide variety of industries.

After a few months of searching, fate struck, and I was offered a job at a medical marketing company in the Chicago area. I am now proud to say that I am Clear Digital Media’s Hearing News Network Product Manager. I know it’s a bit of a mouthful, but I basically run a TV network that plays exclusively in doctor’s office waiting rooms.

Believe it or not, my English degree made me a perfect match for this niche role! My bosses were looking to hire someone with great skills in research and writing, as I would need to research medical conditions, boil them down into digestible pieces, and transform them into easily consumable scripts for waiting patients. Of course, my 6 years of English homework had prepared me for that task. However, my role at Clear Digital Media involved a few more elements. I needed to be able to view a topic through a variety of lenses and perspectives to ensure that no one in our wide demographic would be confused or offended by any of the videos we created. Hearing News Network broadcast in waiting rooms across the continent, so ensuring that viewers of all ages, ethnicities, and education levels would enjoy and understand our content in the same way was a challenge that only an English grad could handle.

During my time at Western, I had an assistantship role as a student teacher for two semesters. I thought that experience would only benefit me if I pursued a role in education, but I was wrong. It has come to be extremely helpful today. I script countless educational videos that are designed for waiting patients and their accompanying family members. In order to ensure that the patients receive the intended messages, I have to know how people learn. With my short experience as a student teacher, I was able to understand that students learn in different ways, and appealing to all learning styles is the best way to reach the largest audience.

Beyond researching and script writing, I also manage the entire video design process, from a client request, to research, to overseeing a design, to final approval and implementation. Without the analytical and organizational skills I picked up as a student, I would not be unable to handle hundreds of these projects at one time while maintaining full communication with my team and staying organized.

My role as Hearing News Network Product Manager has given me the opportunity to manage both long-term and short-term projects and work with a team of designers and sales people. It has given me the privilege to travel across the country, to attend industry events and learn from the elite in my field. It may sound sappy, but I am thankful that I followed my passion and pursued my English degree despite not knowing where it would take me. I would not be nearly as confident in every aspect of my role at Clear Digital Media if I didn’t have the diverse skill set and background that an English degree has given me.

If I could give any advice to current students or recent grads, it would be to not be afraid to look for jobs outside of the English bubble. English skills are needed in almost every industry and you have a special skill set that will be valued. If your passion is to write, edit, publish, and educate, then all of that is still possible in other fields. And if you are like me, you will discover new passions and opportunities that you didn’t know were available.

Learn more about Abigail Tichler –

Learn more about Hearing News Network