Career Opportunities For English Majors
What Can I Do With "English"?
Teaching English in schools and
universities remains the goal of many graduates in the discipline. Historically
there has been a need for qualified teachers, and with the renewed emphasis on
basic language skills at all educational levels this demand will surely
Moreover, those who have received a sound education in English are able to
consider a remarkable variety of employment opportunities. Such fields as
journalism, radio and television, advertising, public relations, technical and
copywriting, printing, publishing, government, foreign service and librarianship
all traditionally welcome graduates who have learned to read critically and
communicate effectively. This pattern is understandable, for we live in an era
when dwindling numbers of people actually master those communications skills
vital to the operation of a complex society.
One often hears the short-sighted criticism of humanistic studies: "So what
if English Majors know everything about Shakespeare or Emily Bronte? No employer
in industry cares about that!" This cliche, like most, contains a particle of
truth; yet it is a partial truth which obscures a large misconception. A
potential employer is rightly unimpressed by literary name-droppers and
self-styled "culture" snobs who consider it more satisfying to turn a cute
phrase than a solid day's work. Conversely, an employer is often
interested in what a job candidate has learned from his experiences with
literature, in what great (and not so great) books have taught him or her about
human values and possibilities. And the employer most certainly is
concerned with how well the candidate has absorbed the disciplines of critical
thinking and clear, logical communication. The wise employer knows that his or
her best investment lies with the candidate displaying range and flexibility of
mind, with someone who can readily learn the specific functions of a job and
write coherent reports for colleagues and superiors.
To read well is to bring the world to one's fingertips; to write well is to
share that experience with friends, colleagues, employers, and students.
Clearly, English will remain one of the cornerstones of education and a
necessity in the American marketplace.