Sarah Rainey uses skills she learned in her English courses to thrive in different business sectors.
It was a chance meeting in her Technical and Professional Writing class that set Sarah Rainey (’22) on her path. She was a sophomore, concentrating in Technical Communications, and the student who sat next to her was a senior. “I just thought she was so cool,” Sarah says now. “She had a lot going on. She was very professional…And I was like I’m going to do that one day. I’m going to be like her.”
To say Sarah had a lot going on is putting it mildly. During her senior year, Sarah paired her English major with a second in Language and World Business, as well as a minor in business administration. She became nearly fluent in Spanish. On the side she served as editor-in-chief of The Daily Beacon, having worked all the way up from copy editor.
Sarah Rainey always knew she wanted to be an English major. “I was that person in high school, that everyone was like, if you need anything English-related, ask Sarah.” Still, her first semester at UT didn’t go smoothly. After receiving her first low grade in an English class, Sarah found herself rethinking her choice of major. A discussion with one of her professors the following semester turned things around. He convinced Sarah she had what it took, that English would carry her to a real-world career in business.
“Practical” is a word Sarah uses a lot in talking about her English major. With English, she says, “I’ve learned editing, which is valuable for any workplace. But I’ve also learned communications skills, analysis skills…I’ve learned how to think deeply.”
Another skill Sarah developed is leadership. At UT’s Daily Beacon, Sarah initially found the atmosphere very intimidating. She even contemplated quitting. Though she stuck with it, she held onto that early experience. When she took over the leadership reins in spring 2021, she set about transforming the newsroom into a place where everyone could feel comfortable. She says, “I love seeing people step up and have more confidence in themselves. And they can take those leadership roles when they might not have necessarily seen themselves doing those things before.”
While she doesn’t know what the future holds, Sarah got a chance to put her English skills to use through an internship at Mclaurin Aerospace. They were looking for someone with both business and communications skills, and Sarah was a perfect fit.
For Sarah, things have come full circle. She still thinks a lot about that student she met as a sophomore. “I just thought that girl was so cool. She was doing so many things,” Sarah says. “And now that’s me.”
Sarah is now the Fellowship Coordinator at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Memphis.