Career opportunities and a love of Cincinnati led English major Andy Erickson into a career in IT and an active role in helping the college and the city.
But when the English major graduated from McMicken College of Arts & Sciences in 1993, his early job moves set him on a path to a lifestyle that now mixes a successful IT career with a healthy dose of community involvement and alumni pride.
"I had graduated, just gotten married, and I needed to find a job," he said. Skills learned in high-school typing classes landed him a position as a data entry temp, but he said it took more than high words-per-minute to turn the position into a full-time job.
|English alum Andy Erickson ('93)|
"The people I worked for thought I did a really great job, and offered me an interview," he explained. "When I met with (his future boss), the clincher was my interpersonal communication skills.
"It's not like I had 40 years of experience, but I had tremendous perspective, given the range of characters and emotions I encountered in books."
Over the years, Erickson moved into various IT positions, always making a point of expanding his network of friends in the field.
"In the world of tech, people can be antisocial," he said. "I wasn't just married to a computer. I wanted to build relationships along the way."
That networking led to a position with Lucrum Inc., a Cincinnati-based independent IT services firm that helps clients access and use their critical data.
Erickson, who now lives in Fairfield Township with his wife and three children, had nothing but good things to say about his four years at the company.
"This is the only place where I've come in without an exit strategy," he said. "It's a place you can dig in and call home."
And that job security, he explained, has given him the chance to give back, both to McMicken and the Cincinnati area in general.
"When I started getting involved with the community a few years ago, right from the start it was so obvious there's so much to be done and so few people doing it," he said.
"I thought, 'If I don't, who will?'"
Erickson regularly blogs for In One Weekend, an entrepreneurial support program launched earlier this year. His role in the group, and the entrepreneurial community, is strictly support, he said, rather than an avenue to launch his own venture.
"I've sort of made the conscious choice I'm going to support the entrepreneurial community, but maybe entrepreneurship's not for me," he said.
He also leads a marriage ministry with his wife through Cincinnati Church of Christ and raises three daughters.
And in what additional time he manages to carve out, Erickson is involved in a number of activities at McMicken.
"I remember what a great experience college was for me," he said. "Those were some of the best times of my life. Part of this is me trying to set the expectation for (my kids): 'This is great; you're going to love college.'"
Erickson is an applied sciences technology program advisor, where he encourages graduates to pursue high tech jobs in the Cincinnati area.
"Maybe it's just the way I'm wired," he said. "I've got this vision of Cincinnati as a great community, and I want to stay here."
But Erickson has not forgotten his English roots. He recently attended one of the college's career fairs, where he talked with English majors about their options.
"I thought, 'Oh, I've got to go,' because I remember thinking when I graduated, 'What am I going to do? I can either wait tables or teach,'" he said.
"I wanted to go back and share my experience with the students. Their opportunities are endless … there are non-standard paths."