“Friday Five” is a weekly short interview feature composed of five questions answered by students, alumni, and faculty. This week, we talked to alumna Carrie Cotton-Caramico.
Carrie Cotton-Caramico graduated from the English department’s combined BA/MA program in 2009. She currently works as the Manager of Talent Recruitment at Teach for America. Through her work with Teach for America, Carrie remains connected to the Stony Brook community, not just as an alumna, but as a recruiter looking for Seawolves who want to have an impact.
Tell me about a skill you learned as an English major that has helped you out in the “real world.”
My literary analysis experience has translated into a keen ability to see situations, even really difficult ones, from multiple perspectives. This has been really helpful in my role at Teach For America. I work with various teams across the organization in their hiring processes. There are numerous people involved in these hiring decisions, ranging in opinions and status. I find myself always taking a step back and analyzing situations prior to discussions and thinking about all parties involved, even those that aren’t present in a meeting (such as an applicant, for example). The ability to analyze the entire situation has helped me to build consensus during times of major contention.
Which text do you suggest all students read before they graduate?
The Alchemist by Paolo Coelho. It’s simple, yet thought-provoking, and really makes you think about destiny and your life path.
During your time at Stony Brook, who was your favorite professor and why?
This is difficult to answer because the English department faculty is phenomenal. If I have to narrow it down to a favorite, however, I would definitely have to say Professor Videbaek. I met her during my first semester and was immediately impressed by her ability to evoke passion in her students and make every single literary genre humorous and engaging. Her office hours were a space to discuss literature, my degree requirements, or life. She made it a point to know every student regardless of the size of her class which I found to be truly remarkable. Professor Videbaek is a brilliant scholar, inspiring mentor, and a teacher who demands nothing but excellence from her students. I felt privileged to be her student, and I will always be eternally grateful to have her in my life.
Which text was your favorite to read as an undergraduate? In which class did you read it?
If you could give one piece of advice to current students, what would it be?
Enjoy your time in academia. Get the most out of every lecture, paper, and novel you read. Take classes that make your heart sing even if they don’t satisfy a specific requirement in your course of study. I speak with college seniors on a daily basis who cannot wait to leave academia, who are anxious to find a job prior to graduation. I smile and nod my head in agreement, I can remember being there. Yet the second I left I wanted to go back. I missed getting kicked out of the library at 3am, the new bonds and friendships I formed each semester, and most of all the endless intellectual stimulation that only academia can bring. I remember thinking, “what can I do with a degree in English?” and worrying that I needed a “back up plan”. As someone who professionally recruits and hires for a living I can now tell you that you are in the greatest field for entry level hiring. Just enjoy your time there and the skills you acquire will make you competitive for a multitude of jobs.