1. University of Virginia
  2. Arts & Sciences

Alumni Feature

Laura Saum

"During this time at Oracle, selling cloud-based software products, I used my English degree in ways that often shocked my managers."

When I graduated in 2013 I had been accepted into University of South Carolina's law school, but decided to take some time off before returning to school. I accepted a job with Oracle as an Inside Sales Representative and moved to the West Coast. During this time at Oracle, selling cloud-based software products, I used my English degree in ways that often shocked my managers. In order to get in touch with C-level decision makers at T-Mobile and 21st Century Fox, I wrote haikus. It sounds silly at first, but these business people thoroughly enjoyed the creativity that went into my messaging. This application of my English acumen resulted in the end to a blackout period between T-Mobile and Oracle and, subsequently, the sale of $4m in marketing automation software. After my first year, I decided to defer from law school for another year and continue working.

However, after a year and a half with Oracle, I recently decided to make a career shift and forego law school. I accepted a job with Robert Half International, where I provide San Francisco-based companies with temporary accounting professionals. We work with clients like Uber, the Golden Gate Bridge, and Dropbox. Whether it comes to client communication, posting jobs, or connecting with candidates, I utilize the skills learned in my undergraduate English studies every day. The ability to communicate a message in an intelligent and effective (and sometimes creative) manner has served me well in a professional context. During my free time, I continue to put my English degree to use tutoring students through Pulitzer Prize winner Dave Eggers' charity: 826 Valencia. I have also become involved in the literary community of San Francisco, submitting poetry and short stories to local literary journals like Zyzzyva and McSweeny's

I often reminisce about the time I spent studying English with Professor Levenson and Professor Spearing. There are many days when I am in the office that I wish that I could be back in the classroom learning the intricacies of Dickensian prose, or the meaning of Middle English in the Gawain Poet's text. What I would not give to spend another semester learning about Middlemarch and Tristram Shandy in a class dauntingly titled "The Long Novel." Though, at the time, I had no idea of how this information would translate into my professional life, in retrospect I am incredibly grateful for the hours I spent in Bryan Hall during my time at UVA.

(My picture is from the Movember charity competition that my Oracle coworkers spearheaded -- I actually won the female award of "Miss Movember" in 2013 for my participation with the endeavor.)