Market your Major

Prepare for success in your career

The most common career fields for English graduates include writing/editing, education, publishing, advertising, public relations, business, and law. While a degree in English provides a foundation of knowledge and skills appropriate to a wide range of professions, you will need to consider carefully how you can tailor your broad education to specific jobs and industries. Internships, volunteer experience, elective courses and complementary majors or minors can play a pivotal role in your preparation for various careers. 

The greatest advantage of an English degree may be that it is broadly applicable and helps you develop critical thinking, problem solving and top-notch communication skills. Because your degree may lead you into so many different careers, it is impossible for our curriculum to prepare you for one specific career path. We can show you where others have gone before you, but in the end you have to make your own way. Take advantage of every learning opportunity you have within the department and be proactive in seeking information about possible careers.

Make yourself more marketable

Regardless of the career field you pursue, there are several strategies you should use to enhance your ability to land the job you want:

Develop strong verbal as well as written communication skills

Many students are attracted to English or professional or creative writing degrees because they enjoy writing and have earned accolades for their writing skills. Part of having success in the workplace is also how you present yourself verbally, so take time to work on those skills as you complete your degree.

Develop excellent interpersonal skills

This means more than just being a “people person.” Persuasion, motivation, conflict management, relationship building, teamwork and leadership are all necessary and highly marketable skills. But you have to be able to do more than just study these skills or say you have them. You have to practice and develop them, and you need to be able to point to specific examples of when you have put them to work effectively. It is particularly important for you to be able to point to work, internship and class experiences where you have demonstrated these skills and, better yet, to have credible references who can attest to your skills.

Explore specializations within major and professional fields

Even in more specialized major areas such as professional writing, you should explore specific jobs related to that major and their requirements. For example, many fields – including banking, health care, accounting, government, etc. – employ professional writers, and each of those will expect particular skills. Talk to your professors and professionals in those areas to learn what you should expect and what you need to do to prepare yourself.

Obtain experience through part-time employment, co-op, internships and/or volunteer experience

Career counselors will tell you that experience counts for a great deal. The more job-related experience you can obtain, the better off you will be. And if you plan for these experiences rather than suddenly deciding in your senior year that you should do something, you will be better prepared to take advantage of them.

Get involved in campus activities and professional organizations

Campus organizations are great places to develop your social, organizational and leadership skills. They also can be a great way to network with people who could someday be instrumental in helping you find a job. Professional organizations, in addition to exposing you to professions associated with your degree, often offer opportunities for networking, meeting professionals, internships and access to job placement resources. On top of that, involvement in organizations looks great on your résumé, especially if you have held positions of leadership or responsibility.

Develop team skills

Small group and team structures are the norm in today’s workplace, and the collaborative projects you participate in as a student can help you build your team skills. Don’t just survive your group projects; maximize them.