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Festa fellowship recipient finds new opportunities with English master's degree
August 12, 2012
Marshall Ennis, '12, found a new career path to consider when he began working as a technical writer at Welch Allyn as Festa fellowship recipient.
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One English graduate student is using his degree to pursue opportunities he never considered before in the world of medical manufacturing.

Marshall Ennis, a graduate student in the English master’s program at SUNY Oswego, was awarded a Festa fellowship at Welch Allyn for the summer. Ennis works in the technical communications department, writing manuals and instruction booklets for Welch Allyn medical equipment.

“The best part of working there is definitely the atmosphere, they do a lot to make sure people are satisfied with their work place,” Ennis said.”

Ennis plays an important role as a technical writer, a crucial job at medical manufacturing companies such as Welch Allyn.

“It’s a vital part of the business because when directions aren’t clear enough, there’s a chance there can be deaths,” Ennis said. “Welch Allyn is much better in that area than other companies.”

Ennis struggled to decide what he career path he would travel with his master’s degree, but the fellowship opened his eyes to opportunities he hadn’t previously considered.

“Like any English major, I was thinking what kind of careers would be the best move for my skill set,” he said. “I didn’t think there were a lot of opportunities for me.”

Ennis (above) hadn't considered technical writing as a career path until his Festa fellowship.

Ennis’ experiences at Welch Allyn changed that mindset.

“I always thought people who wrote manuals were engineers, but you really need a translator to distinguish the technical language of an engineer and the knowledge of a user,” he said. “It turns out it’s a fabulous career for someone with my interests and my personality.”

Ennis’ fellowship came at an exciting time in health industries, particularly at a medical manufacturing company.

“It’s really cool because there’s a new line of products that are coming out,” he explained. “Hospitals all over America are switching to paperless records and these products make sure all their devices can work together and integrate with those systems.”

Ennis found the opportunity at Welch Allyn when David King, dean of graduate studies and research at SUNY Oswego, approached him at the Middle States review luncheon.

“I was invited to come as the representative for the graduate students, and David took me off and said they were looking for good writers with writing experiences,” Ennis said. “David gave me [senior manager of technical communication] John McGloon’s card and told me to call him, so I did.”

“The kind of responsibilities that you have as a technical writer appeal to people with personalities like Marshall’s,” King said. “I don’t think it’s something Marshall had thought about before the fellowship, but I know they like his work and I hope he likes it there.”

Ennis can only rave about his summer experience at the company.

“The best thing about Oswego is that if you are interested in your subject, there’s a lot of people for you to converse with. If you’re interested in your field of study, you’ll find someone who will shepherd you along into several different opportunities.”
Marshall Ennis, '12
Graduate Student, English

“It’s an exciting time to be working in this industry and I’m glad I got a glimpse of it even if it was only for a short time,” Ennis said. “Welch Allyn is a really great position for a technical writer.”

The work atmosphere and relationship between the company and its employees are important to Welch Allyn, King said.

“The exciting thing about them is that they function like an extensive family with an inclusive environment,” he said. “The students are engaged in real projects and real work, it’s a very supportive environment.”

“I met a lot of really great people there, it’s really diverse, really eclectic and really funny,” Ennis added. “Everyone is enjoying life and it seems like it’s a great lifestyle.”

King sees SUNY Oswego’s university-company partnership with Welch Allyn beneficial to all those involved.

“We see it as a win-win,” he said. “It’s an extra set of hands for Welch Allyn and real world experience for our students. They’re great to work for and with.”

Ennis’ reputation as a writer helped him stand out to King. Ennis worked for the provost, wrote grants with the dean of humanities and drafted the handbooks, brochures and marketing materials for the new co-op program launching in the fall.

“I didn’t expect to get these jobs but one of my professors dropped my name to different people,” Ennis said. “I’ve found many people who are very supportive and have a lot of great ideas about my skills and where my talents lie.”

That same professor, Bennet Schaber, helped Ennis with his next career move; an adjunct professor position at SUNY Oswego this fall. He will teach the introductory English class as well as Writing and Film for the Fall 2012 semester.

Ennis is grateful to the people at SUNY Oswego for the different opportunities he had as a graduate student.

“The best thing about Oswego is that if you are interested in your subject, there’s a lot of people for you to converse with,” he said. “If you’re interested in your field of study, you’ll find someone who will shepherd you along into several different opportunities.”

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