Alum Shares Unanticipated Career Path

May 8, 2015

Karen Sloan, an ’81 alumna from the department, shares the many twists and turns her English degree has given her.

Karen SloanAfter graduating from the University of Maryland, Karen went on to earn an MFA from UC Irvine’s Program in Writing, which accepts a maximum of 12 new students from over 500 applicants each year. While there, she worked under Oakley Hall and Don Heiney—two American fiction writers—and alongside up-and-coming screenwriters and novelists, including a future Pulitzer Prize winner.  Following these intense 2 years, Karen returned to Maryland and spent the next decade circling the Capital Beltway as an adjunct teacher and editor.

Karen then landed a job at the U.S. Government Accountability Office as a communications analyst, where she worked with audit teams to help shape their findings and messages on a range of federal issues, including Veterans’ care, the International Space Station, DOD weapons development, and contracting. “I was surprised how my years of studying literature and writing fiction translated to government reports.”

Over time, senior leaders discovered Karen’s “uncanny ability” to identify themes and logic gaps in auditors’ findings and quickly develop reports that had impact.

Karen is now a senior leader herself, as the Communications Officer for the Department of Transportation’s Office of Inspector General, developing writing policies, training, and reviewing high-profile reports and congressional testimonies. “I never tire of working with auditors and investigators. They collect astonishing, often mind-boggling, data—and I get to help them craft their stories.” We hope all of our students feel confident with their skills as an English major to enter any field after graduation—even the Government!


The University of Maryland’s English Department loves hearing from our alumni about their career paths after graduation. If you would like to share your story and experiences please contact our office at