Broadening your lens

For Jennifer Knox ՚14, there is one question that job interviewers never fail to ask her. 

“Every job or academic interview I have ever had involved someone bringing up my classics major,” Knox says. “That question always starts a broader conversation about interests and values that help to distinguish me and round me out as a person, which is invaluable when you are competing for opportunities with a huge group of people with otherwise similar experiences and credentials.”

Who are you more likely to remember as a job interviewer? The candidates with duplicate credentials and experiences or the candidate with the unique qualification? 

Knox was a double major at Cornell, studying international relations and classical studies, which Knox considers an invaluable combination that led to greater insights.  

Jennifer Knox '14
Jennifer Knox ’14

“Studying the classics in conjunction with political science gave me a keener sense of the scale of history, of enduring political structures, and of the high standard of evidence required to make any claims about social and political change over time,” Knox says. “It is tempting, especially as young students, to box analysis into the contemporary, which is what we personally know and experience. Classics helps you broaden your lens not only geographically but temporally, exercising the mental muscles that allow you to resist easy paths and consider more complex frameworks.”

Knox attended the University of Oxford for graduate school, earning a master of philosophy in international relations. Currently, Knox is a Nuclear Security Fellow in the Office of Congressman Visclosky in Washington, D.C. 

“I work in the House of Representatives, and my time there is enriched daily because I understand the context of so many of the symbols and conventions that our republic has borrowed from its ancient predecessors in the classical world,” Knox says. 

Knox has some advice for students studying languages. 

“The best ingredient for success is the joy that comes from practicing something you love,” Knox says. “Start with that, and the skills you need personally and professionally will follow.”

Sounds like some classic advice worth following.