6 answers

Ok so, I’m panicking about majors and I’m not sure what to do. I love writing and graphic design. I’ve got a talent for English and such. But I also wanted to pursue graphic design and other arts. I’ve heard about double majors and majoring and minoring. I have a bit of an understanding but all the examples I’ve heard didn’t really pertain to my struggles so I find it hard to understand. If I were to get a major in English and a minor in graphic design or another art. Could I pursue a career in art? If I were to find something there would someone even care about a minor in art?

Updated New York, New York

6 answers

Maria’s Answer

Updated San Ramon, California

Hi Mel,

If you were to major in English and minor in graphic design, you could theoretically pursue a career in art. Many employers hire their designers based on the strength of their portfolio rather than the specific degree type. However, if you know you want a career in art/design I would suggest the opposite — majoring in art/design and minoring in English, which will allow you to take more artistically-focused classes that will help you build a stronger portfolio.

Double-majoring is a fantastic solution if you aren't sure where you want to end up. An ability to write is a huge plus in hiring designers, and having the overlapping experience can open even more doors and allow you to cross-feed your ideas between mediums. But as others have mentioned it can be draining, especially considering the creative effort that goes into each discipline separately.

Lastly, it's okay to change your mind or be unsure. Part of college is figuring out what you do and don't like so that you don't get trapped in a career path you hate. If at any point you decide you don't like or want to do art/design, English, a double major, etc. you can change your major/minor easily.

Maria recommends the following next steps:

  • Seriously consider what you want to be doing after receiving your degree. Do you want to be writing or teaching English? Or do you want to be designing or working in the visual arts? Or maybe a little bit of both? Your answer to this initial question will help guide your next steps.

Wayne’s Answer


I felt very much the same when I was in college; I loved writing and English, but nearly equally, if not as much, I loved art. I went for a single major in English-Creative Writing, but ended up as a graphic designer, which was a mid-career switch -- I was in my late 30s at the time. It was a long, hard road to end up as a designer - I don't have a graphic design degree. And while I am working as a designer, not for one instance do I regret my choice of an English degree. I'm still very passionate about books and good writing, even though I may not practice it quite enough. While you come across as passionate about both English and art, the wording of your question makes it sound like you really want a career in art/design. As such, I would do some serious soul-searching about what you really want to pursue as a career. If you're leaning towards art, go for that as your major -- it will make things easier on you. A good portfolio and some experience can still open plenty of doors, but I find more and more employers looking for a design degree. You can always minor in English and still make time to read and practice writing on your own if you find yourself pulled in that direction. Whatever you choose, I wish you good luck.

Edward’s Answer

Updated London, England, United Kingdom

Hello Mel!

First up I would say that I can very much relate to your situation, it can feel hard at that early stage not knowing exactly what you want to do but I would encourage you to embrace talents in all areas. We are so often encouraged to focus and specialize in life but I have found in my career that being more of a generalist is actually more beneficial in the long term. I studied industrial design but now work as a Creative Director so my journey has been very meandering and very rewarding.

To reiterate what Rachel said above, the combination of language with the arts is a very fruitful combination that can create so many opportunities. It will set you apart from the field as a designer/art director as it will make your communication stronger, and at the same time if you choose to be a writer then your visual/art interests will also set you apart in the field.

The other thing that I would actively encourage is for you to always be making your own work. In the early days of building a portfolio you don't always have commercial work to show your viability as a professional but you can always have personal work which in my experience is what built my career and created conversations with people I wanted to work with. As someone who hires people, to see the things that inspire an individual beyond their day job is hugely valuable and will always set you apart.

Edward recommends the following next steps:

  • Try things! Take some design/art and writing classes, really try things out and see what you enjoy
  • Make your own work! No idea is stupid, just express yourself in any medium
  • Start researching the kind of companies/places you'd like to work for
  • Find a mentor, look out for people that can help you on your journey, no one can do it alone

Ken’s Answer

Updated Cleveland, Ohio

Congratulations on being interested in finding the right career to follow.. It takes a special person to enter into a specific career field and meet the demands which that career area presents. The first step is to get to know yourself to see if you share the personality traits which make one successful in that area. The next step is doing networking to meet and talk to and possibly shadow people doing what you might think that you want to do to see if this is something that you really want to do, as a career area could look much different on the inside than it looks from the outside.  When I was doing college recruiting, I encountered too many students, who skipped these important steps, and ended up in a career/job for which they were ill suited.

Ken recommends the following next steps:

  • The first step is to take an interest and aptitude test and have it interpreted by your school counselor to see if you share the personality traits necessary to enter the field. You might want to do this again upon entry into college, as the interpretation might differ slightly due to the course offering of the school. However, do not wait until entering college, as the information from the test will help to determine the courses that you take in high school. Too many students, due to poor planning, end up paying for courses in college which they could have taken for free in high school.
  • Next, when you have the results of the testing, talk to the person at your high school and college who tracks and works with graduates to arrange to talk to, visit, and possibly shadow people doing what you think that you might want to do, so that you can get know what they are doing and how they got there. Here are some tips: ## http://www.wikihow.com/Network ## ## https://www.themuse.com/advice/nonawkward-ways-to-start-and-end-networking-conversations ## ## https://www.themuse.com/advice/4-questions-to-ask-your-network-besides-can-you-get-me-a-job?ref=carousel-slide-1 ##
  • Locate and attend meetings of professional associations to which people who are doing what you think that you want to do belong, so that you can get their advice. These associations may offer or know of intern, coop, shadowing, and scholarship opportunities. These associations are the means whereby the professionals keep abreast of their career area following college and advance in their career. You can locate them by asking your school academic advisor, favorite teachers, and the reference librarian at your local library. Here are some tips: ## https://www.careeronestop.org/BusinessCenter/Toolkit/find-professional-associations.aspx?&frd=true ## ## https://www.themuse.com/advice/9-tips-for-navigating-your-first-networking-event ##
  • • It is very important to express your appreciation to those who help you along the way to be able to continue to receive helpful information and to create important networking contacts along the way. Here are some good tips: ## https://www.themuse.com/advice/the-informational-interview-thank-you-note-smart-people-know-to-send?ref=recently-published-2 ## ## https://www.themuse.com/advice/3-tips-for-writing-a-thank-you-note-thatll-make-you-look-like-the-best-candidate-alive?bsft_eid=7e230cba-a92f-4ec7-8ca3-2f50c8fc9c3c&bsft_pid=d08b95c2-bc8f-4eae-8618-d0826841a284&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=daily_20171020&utm_source=blueshift&utm_content=daily_20171020&bsft_clkid=edfe52ae-9e40-4d90-8e6a-e0bb76116570&bsft_uid=54658fa1-0090-41fd-b88c-20a86c513a6c&bsft_mid=214115cb-cca2-4aec-aa86-92a31d371185&bsft_pp=2 ##

Dhairya’s Answer

Updated Boston, Massachusetts

I'm a huge fan of double majoring. I double majored in English and a second major I created (mix of Philosophy, Political Science, and Economics). It was a great experience and I felt like I was able really dive deep into both fields. The plus side is you get to study all the things you are passionate about. The down side is that by double majoring, you'll have less electives available to you to explore classes outside of your two majors. Minoring is a great way to get more flexibility.

At the end of the day, when it comes to humanities, what your major in doesn't really affect you job prospects. If you are interested in pursuing a career in art, you should make lots of art. It's all about practice and getting your work out there. Same goes with graphic design. Having a degree in art is helpful but at the end of the day, potential employers and clients will be interested in your skill and portfolio. I'd recommend looking for internship opportunities and building out a portfolio as both will be really valuable when you hit the job market.

Good luck!

Rachel’s Answer

Updated San Francisco, California

I went to college for English / Creative writing and then went to a secondary school for Advertising Art Direction. There are tons of careers in this field. You could be an Art Director for film or a production artist for sets. You could be a graphic designer. You could be an Art Director for Advertising or if you want to, you could be a copywriter for Advertising. You could be an experience designer for products (websites) like Airbnb or Google. You could go more technical and be a product designer. In that case, you'd want to go to school for industrial design. In the creative field, your major is less important than your portfolio, so in my opinion, if you want to pursue a career in art, you could bypass college altogether and go to a 2 year portfolio school. If you want to major in writing, do it! If I had it to do over again, I would double major in Graphic Design and Creative writing. I've found in my career that even though I am not a professional writer, having a degree in writing has helped me tell stories and communicate really well.

Rachel recommends the following next steps:

  • Take a few design classes and a few writing classes and figure out what you like better
  • Look at portfolio schools versus a traditional college education and think about what is right for you. There is always the option to go to portfolio school after college as well.
  • Try a bunch of stuff and find what you like! There is definitely a career out there for you.