When pursuing an English major, the standard career choice is teaching, whether it’s teaching creative writing, literature, composition, and so on. However, I’m sure more than a few of us are sick of being asked what we want to do, especially when the question goes along the lines of “You’re an English major? What are you going to do? Teach?” While these kinds of questions make it seem like the only option an English major has is to teach, the reality is that our opportunities are numerous. Often to the point of intimidation. So if you’d like to pursue an English degree, but aren’t enthused about teaching, have no fear. There are tons of options for you.
One of the most common things you’ll hear about law school is the benefit of an English degree. We English majors know how to analyze, research, write papers, effectively communicate, and read critically. Sure, we’ll have tons of catching up in regards to understanding law, but we have the assignments covered.
A career in technical writing/editing is open to many majors, and English is one of them. Technical writers create various documents that convey technical information into a more easily understood text. Add in some knowledge of the product, and we English majors are match made in heaven.
Literary Journal Editing
Knowledge in what makes for skilled writing is important in literary journals, and English majors are all about it. In addition, English majors have access to classes and internships with their school’s literary journal, providing hands on experience for your every editing career desire.
Advertising/Marketing as a career is all about communications, something we English majors excel in. Just like with law, the ability to write effectively and speak clearly gives English majors a head start.
The same attributes we discussed in the law section applies to politics as well. In addition, if we chose our reading list right, we spend a huge chunk of our days reading from a variety of authors, cultures, and experiences. That kind of time results in empathy and tolerance for others. And having a strong understanding of the English language, both written and oral, certainly can’t hurt either.
But for those who unapologetically love to teach, there’s more than that position down the road. For those looking for a personal challenge, try teaching in a different state or overseas. There are tons of organizations out there that welcome college graduates, especially those with English majors. Among these include Teach for America and the Fulbright.
Teach for America places students in high-need areas and low income schools. When applying, all you need is your resume, academic information, and a personal statement. Those chosen are given training and are helped with their move. Requirements vary by location, but most locations chose their teachers on GPA, major, and course prerequisites.
The Fulbright aims to better relations between countries by sending out Fulbright grantees to teach their native language and develop understanding of their country. There are tons of options on what kind of grant you pursue, but the English Teaching Assistant (ETA) is perfect for those who dream of nothing else but teaching. Depending on the country, the ETA welcomes a variety of majors, but because of our extensive knowledge in all things English, we have a bit of a step up in countries actively searching for degrees in English. Better yet, some ETAs are preferably given out to those who have an interest in teaching.
And remember, this is just a few of the jobs you can pursue. So whether you’re feeling down about your career options or simply want a change of pace, never let anyone tell you you’re meant to live a cookie cutter existence. Choose your own adventure.
Rebecca Cobb is a second year MFA student studying fiction at the University of Central Florida. She can be found frantically trying to finish her thesis while simultaneously searching the job market.