An English degree instills writing and analysis skills that make you nimble in a diverse and changing work world.
A degree in English develops:
- advanced writings skills in diverse genres, from the professional to the creative
- the ability to identify and use cultural and historical information to situate texts and ideas in time and place
- expertise in selecting and analyzing appropriate information sources and in synthesizing, integrating and crediting those sources
- the ability to understand underrepresented experiences and cultural diversity
- aptitude in parsing the meaningful work of literary technique and of literature’s function as a cultural and historical force
- deep understanding of the relationship between language, thought and communication and the ability to apply language and other symbols to reach audiences
- knowledge of how the material production, technologies and cultural practices of diverse types of media shape meaning
These skills don’t prepare graduates simply for a single job. They instill a flexibility of thought that unlocks a range of careers and the ability to adapt to the needs of a changing workforce. Such preparation is crucial as today’s graduates will have an average of 11 jobs between the moment they enter the workforce and the time they retire.
Ninety-five percent of our graduates are working full time, interning or pursuing graduate studies within six months. Recent graduates have used their degree to launch careers in education, politics, law, publishing, marketing, communications, creative and professional writing, editing, human resources and project management.
Below you will find information about a few of these professional pathways and profiled alumni who work in those fields. You will also see resources for finding your future career. In addition to those resources, all of our students have access to individual career advising by ARHU Career Advisor Kate Juhl (firstname.lastname@example.org) and can enroll in ENGL497: “English at Work,” which provides directed strategies for researching careers and a personalized job-shadowing opportunity, all intended to sharpen your skills in writing and speaking for career advancement in a range of professional paths.
Explore Possible Career Paths
Communication and media careers involve dealing with the creation and transmission of messages from organizations (businesses, governments and institutions). These messages can be transmitted through various media—from news articles, blogs and company letters to Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn. Given the changes in the field, and the new social media available, there’s more emphasis on interacting with and responding to the public.
Broad areas within this field include:
- Communication, those who transmit messages to the public from various sources
- Public Relations, individuals within or associated with organizations that develop the message and work with the media to present a unified picture of their organization
- Social Media, individuals who direct and manage a organization’s online presence through their web content, tweets and posts on social network sites
This field may be a fit for you if you are interested in persuasive communications, would like to promote an organization, have experience and interest in social media, or can make a great comment in 280 characters or less! English majors, with their experience in constructing arguments and deconstructing meanings in a diverse range of genres, as well as their close study of cultural texts, are uniquely prepared to create the persuasive and culturally meaningful messages required in today’s culture.
English majors can work in the criminal justice field to develop a more just society. The field offers pathways to pursue social justice, to prevent recidivism, and to reform mass incarceration. Careers in criminal justice cover a broad spectrum of opportunities and English majors can be found in a number of them.
Some professional areas of interest to English majors are:
- Law enforcement, the officials who detect and detain suspects
- Law, where officers of the court argue the prosecution and punishment of criminals, or defend those who stand accused
- Criminology, those who study the criminal justice system and its inequities to develop new ways to detect and prevent crime or who study the inequities of the criminal justice system and advocate for more socially just methods
- Advocacy, those work to reform mass incarceration, its racism and its impact on people of color.
The criminal justice/legal fields may be a possible fit for you if you enjoy serving your community, helping others, have a strong sense for justice and have strong analytical and research skills. Your background as an English major—particularly your experience writing, researching, and reading—will serve you well.
The inspiration, training and success of students is the main focus of the educational field. Educators work to improve student success by finding creative ways to motivate students to learn. The possibilities within this field are diverse because of the broad range of options available. Educational institutions have different levels (elementary to post-secondary) and can be private or public, liberal arts or vocational. Each county needs a number of each type of institution to manage their entire population.
The educational field boils down to three basic areas:
- Teaching, the direct interaction with students to provide training and assistance in learning material
- Administration, the support staff that helps teachers educate students by providing secondary services and assistance outside the classroom
- Policy-makers, those who develop the standards for educational institutions
Educational careers are a good fit for students who are passionate about a subject and want to pass on their knowledge to others. Students who like to tutor and can find numerous ways to explain material are also sought after. Educators should be patient, excited about working with the broad spectrum of students in their institution and able to revisit material without losing their enthusiasm for the topic. Most importantly, educators must be passionate about helping students succeed both inside and outside the classroom.
The field of writing focuses on the creation and development of written content for target audiences, to inspire, educate, train or explain concepts. In general, writing and media careers are closely related and writers find many career opportunities in journalism or public relations. What separates this field from media and public affairs is a decreased emphasis on interaction with the public and coverage of current events and news items. Instead, this field has careers where the writing is aimed at explaining techniques, looking at history or creating fantasy worlds on the page or screen, as just a few options.
This field can be separated into:
- Writers/Authors, those who propose, research and revise information to create new content
- Technical Writers, a special subsection that writes to explain complex information and processes
- Editor/Publishers, who evaluate, structure and further develop content
Students in creative writing, wordsmiths or people who just want to find new and better ways to say something are highly sought after in this field. Those who would like to build a career in writing should have good attention to detail and the ability to research topics and synthesize knowledge into a unified document (either fictional or non-fictional).