What On Earth Are You Going to Do with an English Degree?
By Kaitlin Hooker, Bookmans Editorial Assistant Intern
Two years and four majors into my undergraduate career, I decided to get my Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature. My mom sighed, my dad yelled and my friends squinted their eyes and tried to be supportive. I, on the other hand, was over the moon. I was doing well in classes, getting to know professors who believed in my work and applying for internships that directly correlate my English degree with real world experience! If you visit the Bookmans website, I assume you’re a book lover–and perhaps a current or former English major yourself–and can relate! When anyone asks, “What on Earth are you going to do with an English degree?” this is what I say.
Mr. Sir Father Figure: “What on Earth are you going to do with an English degree?”
English Major: Glad you asked Mr. Sir Father Figure! I plan on going to law school! I’m going to use my time majoring in English to learn skills such as in-depth research, literary analysis, writing and rhetoric studies to practice for the LSAT and studying legal cases. I will take focus courses in legal and nonfiction writing and intern in local district courts drafting legal correspondence to further hone my skills and make contacts!
Random Acquaintance from High School: “What on Earth are you going to do with an English degree?”
English Major: How have you been, classmate? I’m going into the publishing industry! I want to work with authors writing children’s books that introduce heavy concepts to kids using simple language. I’ll use my English degree to apply for internships in the publishing sector, network with professionals and land a career doing what I love!
Concerned Mother Who Wants You to Be Able to Afford Meals: “What on Earth are you going to do with an English degree?”
English Major: You’re looking younger every day, Mom! I’m going into journalism and copy editing. I’ll use my diverse writing background and portfolio to apply for positions working at online and print publications, writing about issues that matter to me and editing others’ work for grammatical and content error.
Curious Friend Who Saw Your Instagram featuring Paradise Lost: “What on Earth are you going to do with an English degree?”
English Major: Hey Becky, how’s your family in Iowa? I’m planning on going into web publishing and social media marketing and will advertise businesses online! There are plenty of professional career options for those of us who study the liberal arts–you should check it out in case you too are interested!
Aunt Who Forgets Your Birthday: “What on Earth are you going to do with an English degree?”
English Major: Thanks for your interest in my future, Aunt Peg! I’m planning on being a lobbyist and would love to work on public policy changes. I’m going to use my time as an English major honing my writing and analytical skills so that I can draft bills and legislature when I move out to D.C.!
Lady You Make Small Talk with Waiting for the Bus: “What on Earth are you going to do with an English degree?”
English Major: Hello, ma’am! I’m applying to medical school! Many schools are beginning programs for those with undergraduate degrees in liberal arts to study medicine. Since the medical field is always searching for diversity, English majors make a great addition to medical cohorts with their honed writing and communication skills, necessary even for doctors. No, I don’t want to see the rabbit you carry in your backpack, but thanks anyway!
Blind Date Your Friend Set You Up on: “What on Earth are you going to do with an English degree?”
English Major: You look different from the picture Becky showed me. My dream is to become a high school English teacher and expose teens to the literature that made me fall in love with the English language. I want to inspire them to change the world with their writing! Can you not sit on the same side of the table as me? I’m getting a crick in my neck.
Person Interviewing You for your Dream Job: “What on Earth are you going to do with an English degree?”
English Major: I’m going to work for Bookmans and live my life surrounded by fiction, nonfiction and a great community of people who care as much about the English language and all its many applications as I do!
No matter what you plan to do or are doing with your English degree, don’t let any stigma get you down! As English majors, we are lucky to study human interaction through the study of literature and can often land jobs we’re not “technically” qualified for because of our interpersonal communication skills. As long as there’s a Bookmans, you’ll have a place that welcomes and understands you. We appreciate people of every major, be it English, Physiology Dance, or Mechanical Engineering!
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