Author Topic: Graduating with an English Degree. Now what?  (Read 8515 times)

Tami1982

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Graduating with an English Degree. Now what?
« on: May 12, 2013, 10:43:08 AM »
I'll be graduating in a few months with a bachelor's degree in English and have no idea what I can do with it other than more school.  Any mustachians out there put their English degrees to good use?  If so, what worked for you?  What kind of employment is out there?  Advice desired and appreciated!

I started this degree in 2004.  I had serious health complications and time off and just recently restarted.  When I returned to school I looked into changing majors to something that might have more employability, but did not want to spend extra time in school.  With my credits that transferred finishing out an English Literature degree was the fastest thing I could do.   I'll have an Arts, Media, & Culture degree with English Lit emphasis - what a crazy title - from the University of Washington. (Go Huskies!)

punnymustache

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Re: Graduating with an English Degree. Now what?
« Reply #1 on: May 12, 2013, 10:50:54 AM »
Look into marketing positions, technical writing--basically any kind of writing a corporation might pay you to do. Talk up the Media part of your degree if you go this route.

You may be able to tutor, but usually that's more of a side job than a full-time job.

FlorenceMcGillicutty

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Re: Graduating with an English Degree. Now what?
« Reply #2 on: May 12, 2013, 10:55:59 AM »
I have a bachelor's degree in political science--not much more useful than an English degree :). I think that if you're tenacious, smart, and have goals, you can achieve them no matter what your degree. I started off doing a fellowship right after school, then moved into government, and now I'm at a Fortune 50 company. Think about what you like doing and what qualities in a job you want. Do you like working with people? Maybe you could start off in insurance sales. Are you more of a researcher? Perhaps there's a job at the university for you. I would narrow down what you're looking for and then aggressively go after the jobs that sound like a good fit. If employers know that you've put thought into what you want and can see that you're a good fit, you get hired.


BPA

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Re: Graduating with an English Degree. Now what?
« Reply #3 on: May 12, 2013, 11:15:43 AM »
My boyfriend and I teach.  My brother writes.  He's doing freelance now, but had a gig writing for Xtra West in Vancouver for a while.

My other friends with English degrees got jobs other areas but have used their communication skills to their advantage there.  For example, when it came to writing reports in her IT job, one friend noticed that she was valued for being able to write well.


Tami1982

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Re: Graduating with an English Degree. Now what?
« Reply #4 on: May 12, 2013, 12:38:19 PM »
Thanks for the info guys.  I have zero experience with children, so tutoring/teaching is probably not the best bet for me.  I didn't know you could teach without an educational BA or a masters in teaching.  Maybe just not in Washington?   

Most of my job experience has been customer service/retail or office/admin.  I've done a little bit of retail/catalog sales, and while I loved the company I didn't like upselling much. 

It is so strange, here I am in the last year of my lit degree and I met all my lit requirements at my other college.  It's been 7 years since I've taken an English or a lit class.  All I'm taking now are history, art, and spanish classes to meet my graduation requirements at UW.   I am glad I had to take the Spanish again. Between the year of that, plus this summer in Mexico, I'm hoping to be able to say I have moderate skills in Spanish.

BPA

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Re: Graduating with an English Degree. Now what?
« Reply #5 on: May 12, 2013, 12:49:13 PM »
Thanks for the info guys.  I have zero experience with children, so tutoring/teaching is probably not the best bet for me.  I didn't know you could teach without an educational BA or a masters in teaching.  Maybe just not in Washington?   

Most of my job experience has been customer service/retail or office/admin.  I've done a little bit of retail/catalog sales, and while I loved the company I didn't like upselling much. 

It is so strange, here I am in the last year of my lit degree and I met all my lit requirements at my other college.  It's been 7 years since I've taken an English or a lit class.  All I'm taking now are history, art, and spanish classes to meet my graduation requirements at UW.   I am glad I had to take the Spanish again. Between the year of that, plus this summer in Mexico, I'm hoping to be able to say I have moderate skills in Spanish.


Oh yeah...just to clarify, my boyfriend and I have teaching degrees too, but my friend taught at a community college without anything beyond her BA.

Tami1982

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Re: Graduating with an English Degree. Now what?
« Reply #6 on: May 12, 2013, 12:58:08 PM »
I think teaching english at a college level wouldn't be so bad, but even my local community college requires a master's degree:(

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Re: Graduating with an English Degree. Now what?
« Reply #7 on: May 12, 2013, 01:02:14 PM »
In your shoes, I would start looking at the cities, counties, and state government agencies in your area.  The Spanish taught in school is different than Spanish as spoken in Latin America, but if you have conversational skills in Spanish as spoken by the immigrant population, that will benefit you.  So will the customer service experience.  Look for entry level jobs in agencies that have potential for you to advance.  If you pass your probationary period, you can transfer internally to something you like better or apply for promotional opportunities.  Apply for anything and everything for which you are qualified.  Even a crummy, unpleasant job (like Eligibility Worker I at the county social services office) can get you started on a career path.  Once you have a positive work history, word of mouth will help with moving to other jobs in the organization. 

BPA

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Re: Graduating with an English Degree. Now what?
« Reply #8 on: May 12, 2013, 01:08:40 PM »
Have you considered teaching (adult) English abroad? 

Rural

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Re: Graduating with an English Degree. Now what?
« Reply #9 on: May 12, 2013, 01:09:20 PM »
Check into tutoring centers or writing labs at the community colleges and technical schools.

Don't discount grad school, either, but don't pay for it. Any English department that won't at least offer a TA position with full tuition and a stipend (which will be pitiful) doesn't really want you as a grad student. You'd have more (traditional) options with a master's.

With the BA, yes, government work. Administrative/clerical positions, too, both inside and outside of government; that's a low-level start, but with a bachelors degree you're set up for advancement. Bigger companies will have more chances for advancement.

Consider freelance editing or writing as side gigs.

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Re: Graduating with an English Degree. Now what?
« Reply #10 on: May 12, 2013, 03:09:11 PM »
Not sure if you care but this was my route:

English degree (BA), had some extra CS credits lying around
Got a job as a tech writer about 2 years before I graduated, kept working it full time. Around the time I finally got the english degree I transferred to an IT position. From there I kept going to school and finished a CS Degree (BS). Then I wasnt quite sure what to do and kept working the day job. I decided a year or two down the road to get a masters degree [applied mathematics, heh] and that took like 2 years. I leveraged that and my CS degree to get a sweet development gig under algos/etc that I found interesting. Round about then I decided law school was the bees knees so got into a decent school [tier 1] just like my family had always told me was the 'right way to go' and entered the night program and spent a bunch of $$. Finished 1L  and had a change of heart. Then I decided I really wanted an MBA so I went the exec route through Berkeley and finished that up 5 years or so ago. I continue working as a sr. manager at a fortune-100 in software engineering. I've often entertained moving to the business side of things but I've learned a few things about myself over the last decade or so of my career and it's that I rather enjoy the stressful crazy development cycle and actually creating new and interesting things.

So yes, I started my career in more or less exactly the same place you have. I've gone back to my original undergrad and have spoken in the english dept to seniors more than a couple times as apparently they consider my story inspirational since so few keep at it for so long with apparently zero clue about what they actually want to do. I still don't know, honestly. The bottom line is your degree is almost completely useless by itself, but the advantage is that there are still MANY doors open in front of you if you choose to take them. Want to be an accountant, engineer, healthcare professional or attorney? Do it.

Tami1982

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Re: Graduating with an English Degree. Now what?
« Reply #11 on: May 12, 2013, 05:57:26 PM »
In your shoes, I would start looking at the cities, counties, and state government agencies in your area.  The Spanish taught in school is different than Spanish as spoken in Latin America, but if you have conversational skills in Spanish as spoken by the immigrant population, that will benefit you.  So will the customer service experience.  Look for entry level jobs in agencies that have potential for you to advance.  If you pass your probationary period, you can transfer internally to something you like better or apply for promotional opportunities.  Apply for anything and everything for which you are qualified.  Even a crummy, unpleasant job (like Eligibility Worker I at the county social services office) can get you started on a career path.  Once you have a positive work history, word of mouth will help with moving to other jobs in the organization. 

I've started to watch all the gov't entities for openings.  I've taken 2 years of high school and one year of college Spanish, and I'm spending a chunk of the summer in Mexico in language immersion.  I'm under no illusions that I'll come home fluent, but I will have, hopefully, cemented things in my brain!

Don't discount grad school, either, but don't pay for it. Any English department that won't at least offer a TA position with full tuition and a stipend (which will be pitiful) doesn't really want you as a grad student. You'd have more (traditional) options with a master's.

Is that how it works?  For some reason I thought you had to get loans for grad school because aid was so poor, but are TA positions common in English Depts?   

Have you considered teaching (adult) English abroad? 

I have been seriously thinking about this.  I do not know enough about the qualifications required or the companies through which you work.  I know several awesome people who taught abroad, but they did it through the Society of Friends.  A lot of the websites out there seem a little scuzzy.  Anyone go through a good company?

arebelspy

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Re: Graduating with an English Degree. Now what?
« Reply #12 on: May 12, 2013, 06:09:05 PM »
I didn't have any experience with kids before I started teaching 4th/5th grade.  I was a philosophy major. My wife teaches High School English, and was an English major.  She loves teaching AP classes, and has looked into starting to teach at the community college level as a potential fun thing after FIRE.

You might enjoy it more than you'd think (and if not, no harm changing).  Teaching English language (to someone who speaks a different language) is vastly different than teaching English content, however (I.e. her class read Great Gatsby this year, and now are going to see the movie, not likely you'll do stuff like that, the high level analysis stuff she enjoys, while teaching English language, rather than English literature).  But she's also potentially looking at teaching English in another country as well, so explore and be open to things.

And she also does an editing side-gig and wants to maybe get more into that after FIRE.  Being able to write is an asset in general.
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Tami1982

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Re: Graduating with an English Degree. Now what?
« Reply #13 on: May 12, 2013, 06:12:35 PM »
I didn't have any experience with kids before I started teaching 4th/5th grade.  I was a philosophy major.

How did you decide to start teaching kids?  I don't even know how to talk to them!  Plus, how to did you pursue it?  Get an MA in education or alternate route?

Rural

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Re: Graduating with an English Degree. Now what?
« Reply #14 on: May 12, 2013, 06:13:04 PM »


Don't discount grad school, either, but don't pay for it. Any English department that won't at least offer a TA position with full tuition and a stipend (which will be pitiful) doesn't really want you as a grad student. You'd have more (traditional) options with a master's.

Is that how it works?  For some reason I thought you had to get loans for grad school because aid was so poor, but are TA positions common in English Depts?   


Yes, very, very common. In some schools, you'd actually be a TA, grading papers for faculty who teach comp sections, but the more common model has grad students as instructor of record. If you're going for an MA and not a direct-to-PhD route, your odds may be better if you go to a school that has only an MA in English, not a PhD. But at a PhD school, you'd be more likely to be a paper-grader, which may be less stressful. At the best places (best in terms of the assistantship, anyway), you'll train first in a writing lab.

There are also research assistantships. They tend to be less common and more competitive than the TAs.

In all of the above, aid is poor, as in poverty line poor. But it is possible to live on the stipends if you're determined. The biggest benefit of an assistantship is free tuition, but you can rent with roommates and eat on the cheap.

arebelspy

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Re: Graduating with an English Degree. Now what?
« Reply #15 on: May 12, 2013, 06:21:38 PM »
I didn't have any experience with kids before I started teaching 4th/5th grade.  I was a philosophy major.

How did you decide to start teaching kids?  I don't even know how to talk to them!  Plus, how to did you pursue it?  Get an MA in education or alternate route?

Teach For America.

I got my Master's while doing my first two years teaching, but it lets you teach without having been an Education Major by doing an alternate route to licensure.

Like most TFA people, I planned on only teaching two years as a bridge to something else, but unlike most I fell in love with teaching and decided to do it for the brief career I'd have before becoming financially independent since it was so enjoyable.

Google around on the topic, and you want more info PM me and I'll be glad to give you a call and we can chat about it.

As far as how to talk to them: I talk to them like I would any adult.  I don't speak down to them.  It works for me.  But you'll develop your own style.  My wife is really goofy with her students, they all like her cause she's the quirky English teacher that loves books.
We are two former teachers who accumulated a bunch of real estate, retired at 29, spent some time traveling the world full time and are now settled with three kids.
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mc6

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Re: Graduating with an English Degree. Now what?
« Reply #16 on: May 12, 2013, 06:34:19 PM »
I'll be graduating in a few months with a bachelor's degree in English and have no idea what I can do with it other than more school.  Any mustachians out there put their English degrees to good use?  If so, what worked for you?  What kind of employment is out there?  Advice desired and appreciated!

Congratulations on your imminent graduation!  I'm also an English major (Creative Writing emphasis) and went a similar route some of the other posters mentioned.  If there are any govt jobs available that sound even remotely interesting, apply.  I also recommend leaving sad hometowns for new places, especially for misfits like myself. 

I wouldn't say I put my degree to good use most days, but the other admin in our group does call me several times a day to ask me how to spell things!