If you approach your career with a defensive question like "What can I do with an English major," you may be limiting your choices. Better questions are: "What skills, talents, insights, and abilities do I have?" and "What kinds of jobs do they suggest?" In today’s employment market, when job titles and responsibilities shift so constantly, English majors have an advantage, because they are used to analyzing situations critically and communicating the results of their scrutiny effectively. The Winthrop Center for Career and Civic Engagement (known to most of us as Career Services) provides a handy guide to how you might think about translating your skills into a career.
What can English majors do?
The obvious choices are teaching, graduate school, or becoming a writer, but graduates also excel in many other areas. Because English majors have learned how to write, analyze material, and communicate effectively, and are good problem solvers, they work in many different fields, including sales, management, advertising, and many others. English majors are found in program management, marketing, editing, reporting, creative and technical writing, public relations, medicine, social work, government work, non-profit organizations, and financial services. The kinds of text analysis, writing, and thinking English majors specialize in enhance their creativity, their understanding of human motivation, and their ability to present clear and logical arguments, both in writing and orally. And your foreign language education gives them a competitive advantage in today’s multicultural employment market. To enhance this versatility, we have specifically designed the English major at Winthrop to be a flexible degree.
Are there really jobs out there?
The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook provides some encouraging statistics for those seeking jobs in traditional "English major" fields like writing, editing, and public relations. The Handbook’s website edition notes that:
Virginia Commonwealth University’s English Majors’ Handbook wisely notes that "Most English graduates ultimately find jobs matching their interests and qualifications, but that process takes time, sometimes as long as five or ten years. Planning your career goals early can, of course, reduce this time. Nevertheless, changing jobs in the early years of a career is common, so you should not be discouraged if you can't find exactly the job you want for the first one. What is important in your first job is its potential for growth, for providing you with marketable skills, and for gaining experience. Don't be too proud to take a low-level entry job. Good experience backed up by recommendations that mention your skills can be invaluable, even when the job is far from satisfying your dreams. Remember that each job can help prepare you for a better one."
Famous English Majors
Career Information Resources
Today more than ever, both the private and public sectors need people who can think and adapt. The English major produces creative problem-solvers, and such challenges are abundant in our world. For further information, we encourage you to seek career counseling information from Career Services and your English advisor. Below are some of the many publications available that may help you research career opportunities. Some of these books are available from Career Placement, in Dacus Library, and on loan from Dr. Koster.