English Majors and Finding Jobs

Sell Out Your Soul has “The Ultimate Guide to Finding Jobs as an English Major.”

The problem is that academia organizes the world by subjects. But the world isn’t organized by subjects. It’s organized by skills.

This is an amazing insight. And it’s hard for students to understand this point of view because they have been ensconced in academia all their lives. Their heads are organized by subjects. As a business writing professor, I know this is true, because the students have no trouble organizing a chronological résumé, but a skills résumé seems to be exceedingly difficult.

The author of the post, Michael LaRocca, used Michael Edmondson and Peter Abrams’ book How Liberal Arts Majors Can Succeed in Today’s Economy: A Workbook to get a job outside of academia making good money.

LaRocca interviewed Edmondson and there are some thoughtful and useful points in the discussion.

I remember thinking that there should have been a course in college about this. Everybody should learn how to translate their liberal arts education into the business world.

I think that the capstone class for English majors would be a really good place for us to teach that at my new university, where I will be teaching graduate students in rhetoric and composition and (hopefully eventually) the capstone class.

I want kids to major in English, Philosophy, and History. It’s really important. They are valuable degrees that can be used in business, marketing, and all types of fields.

The problem is that liberal arts degrees are not marketed at all. Universities, professors, and liberal arts departments have no idea what they are doing. Not one clue. That’s because the only people teaching these students are professors. And professors only know academia.

Something to think about, though he is wrong about the professors only knowing academia. Dr. Skallerup has a post on her pre-academic jobs. I am sure many others of us have also worked outside academia.

Dr. Davis’ short non-higher ed résumé:
waitress (2 years, one pre- and one post-graduate school)
McDonald’s front counter (after PhD coursework completed)
bookstore clerk (’cause I am a bibliophile, you know)
secretary and administrative assistant (2 years, in a foreign country, using two foreign languages)
translator
editor of two journals (one in ministry and one in higher education)
copy editing work (while always part-time, I have copy edited multiple user manuals, brochures, etc)
elementary school teacher (six years)
middle and high school teacher (nine years, including high school biology and history)

One thought on “English Majors and Finding Jobs”

  1. Thanks for the shout-out. While I’ve blogged about my pre-academic jobs, I’d be hard-pressed today to actually compose a 2-page resume as opposed to a lengthy C.V. required by the academic market. I can write the cover letter no problem. But how do I distill it down to one or two pages of bullet points?

    I’d buy the workbook, myself. 🙂

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