PLEAAASE write that post about what you can do with an English degree! I'm getting mine rn and everyone's either assuming I'm going to teach, or trying to push me into the med field instead :\
look, english degrees are awesome okay. i’m going to try and make this as brief as possible but am here to elaborate on anything anyone has questions on.
what everyone thinks you can do with an english degree:
- write a novel i guess
- teach when the novel writing doesn’t work out
what you can actually do with an english degree:
- whatever the fuck you want (no really)
first, there’s different types of english degrees*
*based on the US education system, which i’m most familiar with
- literature! guess what you get to do with a literature degree? a lot.
- skills: close-reading, critical thinking, problem-solving, potentially translating, communication (written for sure, maybe verbal as well), self-direction, detail-orientated, editing, style guides
- stuff: archival work, curation, history if you specialize in an era, making digital humanities projects if you want to work with computers or apps, working abroad (especially if you want to do comparative lit), social justice work, public events including readings and vigils, copy-editing, writing (and we’ll talk more about what “writing” really means on the job market in a second), non-profit work, academia/professor, library work if you’re interested in information science, consultant, book history and printing, publishing
- creative writing!
- skills: close reading, critical thinking, translating, communication, editing, creativity, design, art, self-direction, analytical thinking, problem solving, giving and receiving constructive feedback, art
- stuff: write that novel! or short story! or chap book! or poem!,
marketing/advertising, storyboarding for tv or movies or video games, creative development, script writing, social justice work, non-profit work, academia/professorship, campaigning, travel writing, content development for corporations or charities or whatever you want, social media coordinator (guess what, that starts hiring at around 50k now), administration, public relations/press releases, creative director, creative consultant, medical humanities, publishing
- technical writing/communication!
- skills: collaboration, communication, technical skills, design, problem-solving, analytical and critical thinking, qualitative and quantitative research methods, documentation, development, project management
- stuff: user experience, front-end design (web/software/interfaces/etc.), document design, technical writing, medical writing or design, app design, report writing, grant writing, editing, academia/professorship, political campaigning, social media coordinator, software engineering, programming, risk management, project manager, program development/administration, game designer, accessibility and assistive technology developer, consultant for the government/industry/non-profits, proposal developer, business plan developer, publishing
- skills: sociology and anthropology, syntax, editing, writing, typically competencies in many languages, cognitive science and psychology, speech therapy
- stuff: computational linguistics (PROGRAM COMPUTERS AND AI TO SPEAK?!), assistive technology developer, develop grammar and editing programs for technology (squiggly lines), academia/professorship, translator, forensic linguist, teach foreign languages or english as an additional language, lexicographer meaning you get to basically archive human language for everyone and that’s fucking cool, tech writing, programming and coding!, speech therapy, user researcher/field researcher, speech therapist and setting you up for speech pathology, consultant for the government/industry/non-profits, voice/dialect coach for actors or voice actors
- and many more! (rhetoric, writing studies, teaching english as a second language, others i’ve forgotten)
- guess what all these skills and jobs are likely mix-and-match! take classes across the board, figure out what you’re interested in, and chances are your english degree can be used toward those careers!
- also guess what there’s different types of teaching you can do too! elementary, middle school, high school, vocational or technical colleges, community colleges, universities, corporate training, government training, specialist training, writing centers, teaching abroad, tutoring, instructional design, curriculum development/educational program development. teaching is also awesome and you can do a lot with the teaching focus beyond being just in the classroom if that’s where you want to go!
but i only want to write!
don’t worry dude there’s tons of writing out there for you to find comfortable employment in. here’s a few i can think of off the top of my head:
creative writing: scripts/screenplays, video games, novels, short stories, poetry, journalism, blogs, freelance digital writing, travel writing, think pieces, editorials, marketing campaigns
technical writing: grants, documentation for engineers/programmers/factories/products, SEO content, web content, medical writing, contract writing, business plans, proposals, job descriptions, freelance or contracted writing, user experience test plans and reports, codes and software scripts
civic writing: press releases, speeches, journalism, non-profit grants, charter documents, legislation or other legal documentation (usually hired by contract work)
- make your minor count. you want to write video game scripts? minor in something related to the industry (game studies is even a thing now in several universities). you want to write science books? minor in astronomy. want to write speech programs for AI robots? minor in computer science or human factors. go go go!
- learn how to translate your soft skills to hard skills. english majors, generally, have a lot of critical thinking, analytical, and detail-orientated skills. think of specific projects where you’ve used those and talk about *those* on job materials (we can make our qual life quantifiable, #trust)
- be adaptable. english degrees (and by extension, humanities degrees) are some of the most flexible skill sets out there. don’t pigeonhole yourself into roles that don’t fit what you want to do (i can’t tell you how many colleagues i’ve had that did editing jobs even though they hated editing and wanted to do design work instead. #DegreesCanDoTwoThings)
- know that “publishing” and “editing” and “writing” have much, much more potential than what you might think initially. publishing jobs exist everywhere if you’re willing to work outside of creative fiction (university presses, magazines/newsletters/blogs, documentation for corporations, data-driven or science publications, etc.). these jobs are competitive, but they exist and you can get them
- get experience working with cross-functional or cross-disciplinary teams. find opportunities to join clubs or orgs outside of your major that are doing projects you want to do. want to write movie screenplays? join film club, meet people who want to make films! showing that you can work with a bunch of different people from different knowledge bases/disciplines/skillsets will take you a lot farther on the job market
*dabs at forehead* obviously this isn’t exhaustive, there’s more out there! anyone who wants to chime in or add please do!