Part 1 of “Confessions of a Former English Major” looked at the skills you gain as an English major and how they make you stand apart from other majors. Part 2 focuses on how you can connect those unique skills to a career and become what some people think English majors can’t be: successful.
When I was an English major, getting the typical “What do you want to do with that?” question always made me groan internally. I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do, and honestly, I didn’t know what all my options were. So, trying to tell someone what I wanted to be when I grew up was a struggle. What I’ve learned during the time I’ve been in college is that English is a major that prepares you for work in a variety of fields and settings, and one that gives you a wealth of options to choose from based on your interests.
The communication skills, writing skills, and general people skills that English majors gain in their studies prepare them for rewarding careers in the non-profit sector. They can organize fundraisers, communicate with an organization’s donors, and create strategies to help an organization succeed.
Law and Politics
Many former English majors have pursued careers in law and politics after school. English is one of several majors that pre-law students can choose to help prepare them for the field. Beyond that, English grads can become politicians in different levels of government. For example, Mitt Romney, Governor of Massachusetts and Presidential candidate in the 2012 election, graduated with an English degree from Brigham Young University before entering the political world.
Most people wouldn’t expect it, but you can actually find English majors all over in the world of business. There are UMD English grads working as marketing managers, account managers, and insurance agents (Grad Follow-up Report: 2014-15, 2013-14). English majors can be public relations directors, account executives, proposal managers, sales account managers, and a host of other positions.
Journalism and Writing
Many (if not most) English majors love writing, and would like to find a career which allows them to get paid to do what they love. There are several options within this area, including social media writing, copywriting, grant writing, and technical writing. Journalistic writing or reporting is another option English grads may gravitate towards, including one UMD grad who has become a news reporter at WDIO/WIRT-TV in Duluth.
Never fear, English majors can also teach. They can go on to teach English at the college level or secondary levels, as a second language, and even abroad. Some UMD English grads have found teaching positions in Guatemala, Belize, and Honduras. If you’re more interested in working in education as something other than a teacher, you can also find more administrative positions in schools and universities.
These are only a handful of the areas in which an English major can be successful. Studying English gives a student a wide range of knowledge and skills and prepares them for an evolving working world that increasingly is looking for employees with the ability to think critically, come up with new ideas, and work with a diverse population. If you are an English major, be confident in your choice of studies. If you’re not an English major, think twice about saying the degree is useless. An English major just may be your boss someday.
To see what other past UMD English grads are doing, check out the Graduate Follow-up Report. Another great resource to discover the possibilities is O*Net, which gives you information on possible careers as well as their related skills, areas of study, salaries, and much more.
And just for fun, here are some other English grads you may have heard of: Sting, Conan O’Brien, Barbara Walters, and Steven Spielberg. You’re in pretty good company as an English major. Own it.
Of Possible Interest:
- What can I do with this major? – English (U of TN)
- What can I do with a major in English? (UNCW)
- 5 Well-Paying Jobs You Can Land with an English Degree (Brazen Careerist)
- 100 Careers for English Majors: They Do Exist (Really!) (Inside Jobs)
- Career Planning for Humanities Majors