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What kind of jobs are available to an English major after completing school?

I love literature; however, I am nervous that dedicating all my time in college to this subject may ultimately leave me without a job. #literature #english-composition #shakespeare

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Jon’s Answer

This is definitely a quandary, Lydia. It boils down to the classic college situation; doing something you love, or preparing for what is financially more lucrative.


The high-level answer to this addresses the high-level question; what should I do to guarantee a job after college? And we can infer the unspoken "lucrative" just before job there. If that is the concern, then unfortunately the answer isn't English... which pains me to say. Jobs using your English degree can take years to cultivate into a true career; the first two that come to mind are education and technical writing, both of which have infrequent openings and take a while to build your experience in.


Now that the shock is over, I will say that jobs using your English degree are out there - but may not be readily apparent, and may not directly use what you studied. Focusing on the skills that you learned with your English studies can take you far in any field. Composition, public speaking, presentation, and frankly, what is comparatively (and realistically) a superior grasp of the language; these are all major contributors to any career.


So, now that you've made it this far, and I know you have, I would say stick with English if you love it. While you're doing that, turn your eye towards what fields are out there that you would like to be part of, and learn the supplemental skills or certifications that you may need to work in those fields. I started with some of the dot-coms in the California Bay Area as a content writer, and my plans weren't to get into technical writing. But that lead to projects in those companies, and lead me to where I am now as a trainer. My current role, I use my English skills every day, in my instructional design of curricula and my presentation and structure of my classes.


I also recommend reading "Do What You Love, The Money Will Follow" (1989, Sinetar). It helped me through the exact same issue you're having.

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Annie’s Answer

Hi Lydia! Apologies if my answer comes too late, but I was in the exact same position as you a few years ago, and I wanted to give you some encouragement. I majored in English Lit and Classical Studies as an undergrad, and right out of college I started working with PwC as a financial services consultant. Whether or not you want to go into consulting, I have some advice for how to find career paths that interest you and how you can market a liberal arts education.

A helpful way to think of your college major (and any extracurriculars, for that matter) is to focus on the skills rather than the content. Maybe your encyclopedic knowledge of Lord Byron's sonnets won't come in handy during your job, but a lot of other skills you're using as an English major are highly sought after by recruiters. Here are a few skills I gained as an English/Classics major that I used to show that I could succeed in a job after college (as well as the examples I used to back it up):

-Communicate complex ideas concisely and clearly, particularly in writing (essays)
-Strong attention to detail (paper editing)
-Lead meetings and guide group discussions (seminars and classes)
-Synthesize data from a variety of sources (research papers discussing art, architecture, literature, etc.)
-Research using several databases (JSTOR, etc.)

I'd advise you to consider what skills you like using in your classes and extracurriculars, and let that guide your job search. Then use those skills to sell yourself as a strong candidate. Good luck!

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