Alumni Stories: English Major’s Startup Goes Live

Alumni Stories: English Major’s Startup Goes Live
Chris Tung graduated from Davis with an English Major in 2011. Since then, he’s been working in the tech sector and this month is launching his first startup, a company called Huttle. Chris says that Huttle aims to connect college students and recent grads with mentors in Silicon Valley. We took the opportunity of his company’s launch to ask Chris four questions about his English alum story. 
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Can you tell us a little bit about your startup, including how you got involved in it? 

After graduation, my first job was a marketing gig at Quidsi, an eCommerce site acquired by Amazon. I began sharing my job-hunting experience with friends who were struggling to find their first job, and as time went on, I realized just how much I enjoyed helping anyone I could with their careers. This is what inspired me to build Huttle. 

I started learning how to code in my free time, and after a few weeks developing the concept with my co-founder, Michelle Linn, we launched. Huttle is a new online community that’s all about helping young professionals navigate their careers. On Huttle, you can talk to professionals who have your dream job and get help with any career challenge like how to determine your career path or advice for your big interview. You can even post a draft of your resume and receive personal feedback that will help make your resume stand out.

Seemingly endless reports confirm that tech companies like hiring English and Humanities majors. (One recent example is the new study by the Education Advisory Board described here: 

Our question for you is: If they get a job in tech, will English majors like it? What makes work in the tech sector interesting?

As an English major, we’re taught to evaluate some type of text, think critically, and communicate a vision or unique understanding. That’s a skillset that’s sought after for almost every role at every level within a technology company or startup! 

As a marketer, my job comes down to looking at the competitive landscape, evaluating how we can go about acquiring new users, and then presenting a document that explains why my proposal is the unique opportunity for us to develop in order to hit our business goals. 

The takeaway is that English majors are trained to think in a way that’s critical to almost every job type: read, think, and then communicate a perspective. This training is so important to any job, but it’s invaluable at tech and startups who need unique perspectives to hit their goals and great communicators to sell stakeholders (both internally and externally) on an idea.

It's been a few years since you were a student at Davis and so we wonder: What English courses have stayed with you? And why?

Asian American Literature with Mark Jerng. Though not an official English class, ASA 189B was my second class with English Professor Jerng. As a comic book reader, I was struggling to find classes that approached comics and graphic novels as “serious” literature. Jerng not only had Tomine’s Shortcomings as one of his books but also had us watch Greg Pak’s Robot Stories. Little did Jerng know, Pak was one of my favorite comic authors so having the chance to read and study texts I was passionate about in my free time was something really special. 

Videogames and Literature with Colin Milburn. My last class literature class at Davis was also one of my favorites. Similar to Jerng’s ASA 189B, Milburn’s class reinforced the idea that authors use multiple mediums to tell a story. Having the chance to analyze Super Mario and the myth of the “lost princess” as my final paper was the perfect way to close out my time at Davis. 

What with starting a new company and all, do you have any time to read? Anything you’ve read recently you'd like to recommend?

Habibi by Craig Thompson: I loved Thompson’s previous book, Blankets, and Habibi was equally amazing. The art within and around each panel is beautiful, and the story is simultaneously epic in scope and intimate when it comes to character interaction. The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman: I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve read by Gaiman, and this was no exception. A story about a man remembering his youth, and Gaiman touches upon common themes of fate, coming to terms with growing up, and remembering the things we lost on the way as we became adults.