Career Options for English Majors

A few months before receiving my Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from Boston University, many of my closest friends and family began to ask me what I was planning to do with my degree.

I’d like to tell you that I had been intently thinking about what I’d do after graduation, but in all honesty I was much too busy enjoying the journey, so much so that I was caught off-guard when my undergrad years quickly came to an end.

I had heard all the jokes about English majors and unemployment, and I’d be lying to you if I said I wasn’t just the slightest bit terrified.

I had considered teaching (an obvious choice for many liberal arts students) and even felt that was my only option given my limited interest in media relations and law (again, obvious career trajectories for us bibliophiles). Feeling like I had very few options, I accepted an opportunity to work in a school and gain experience in what I thought would be my life-long career teaching American literature to high school students.

Although a truly noble and rewarding profession, I quickly learned that mentoring, not teaching, was what I was most passionate about. One year after graduation, I was back to the drawing board.

While planning my next move, I spent time thinking about the types of environments I worked best in and the tasks I enjoyed doing. I knew that I loved working with students and helping them realize their own potential. I knew I was passionate about education, excited about creating programs, and had a real knack for supporting people in their own development. I soon realized that despite not wanting to pursue a career in teaching, my experience working in education, during and after graduation, afforded me many transferable skills that I am now able to employ in a career that I love.

So far, my journey has been an incredible one. I am continually discovering and learning to value the skills that I developed as a result of burying my head in mountains of books. Now a young professional working in higher education, I use the skills I developed as an English major—creativity, communication, and critical thinking—every day as I work to develop innovative ways to connect students with BU’s Center for Career Development and Educational Resource Center.

Ironically enough, this means I have the privilege to help students avoid the uncertainty I experienced. Students come to our centers and talk about their majors and post-graduation plans, so that they don’t find themselves absolutely terrified months before graduation or starting at square one a year later.

That being said, if you find yourself questioning your pursuit of an English degree, I encourage you to let the staff at the ERC and CCD help you make sense of your passions and how you can translate them to fulfilling, real-world experiences.

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