What to do with an English Major

Friday, September 23, 2011

The most unjust thing a college counselor can say, with brows furrowed, to an English major is: "So what are you going to do with an English major?" You can either become a teacher or a starving poet. That's what everyone thinks. Even the most trusted, well-meaning adult authority figures in your life will nudge you toward something "more lucrative." You'll get annoyed by the dollar signs in their eyes. Don't they understand that words and literature give your life meaning, thrill you to the soul, and push blood through your very heart?

I'm here to tell you to go for it! There are ways to go about a career with an English major in the right way. If reading, writing, analyzing words or editing give you a rush, don't ignore that. After all, the most fulfilling concept you can practice is: Feed your hopes, not your fears. Here is a list of lucrative and exciting careers that having an English degree can prepare you for:

1. Internal Communications
2. Public Relations
3. Social Media Marketing
4. Product Copywriter (that's me!)
5. Advertising Copywriter
6. Freelance Writer
7. Journalist
8. Editor
9. If you're as lucky and strategic as some, you could make money as a blog writer.
10. Resume Writer/Consultant
11. News Writer
12. Technical Writer
13. Magazine Article Writer (on almost any subject, might I add: food, travel, fashion, sports, fitness...)
14. Magazine Editor
15. Author (fiction, non-fiction, adults, children, young adults...chick lit? Oh yes!)
16. Grant Writer
17. Screenwriter
18. Speech Writer
19. Songwriter
20. Proofreader
21. E-book or E-course writer
22. Website Content Writer

There are so many more that I'm missing and so many careers outside of reading, writing and editing. Check out this list of famous people with English majors to see how they're using them. Some of these careers take a long time to infiltrate, building a portfolio, making connections and such. But just take a look at the jobs being posted on sites like MediaBistro and freelancewritinggigs.com if you're feeling discouraged.

Good communication skills are a dying, yet highly valued art form. Good writing is also one of those skills that translates well to every single business and even to the the digital world. It will not die with technological advances. In fact, technological advances have actually opened up whole new opportunities for writers, including SEO content, social media marketing and brand writing.

A lot of writers defect into the business world, but you can always pen and submit your personal essays and poems on the side. I myself have several poems and a short story in print. One that even provided some pocket money.

An English degree? Lucrative it is!

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