I’ve got my English Degree…now what?!
As the second opening number of musical ‘Avenue Q’ goes “What do you do with a B.A in English?”. Well, plenty if you actually think about it! I’m constantly being asked “why don’t you become a teacher?” to which my response is usually “because those poor kids don’t deserve that!”. It will then lead into a rant about how many different careers rely on English skills, so I decided to note down a couple. However, there’s tonnes of other options besides these, one guy on my course has landed a job dealing with finances! You need to remember your qualification isn’t just “reading books”, if involves writing and analytical skills, and these are qualities desired in several different fields. Here are a few off the top of my head:
Journalism: Journalism is rather an obvious one. Most people studying English opt for teaching or journalism, as they seem more “English-y”. I don’t really have to spell it out here, as a journalist you’ll largely be writing articles and interviewing people. The pros are that being a journalist can be very exciting and rewarding, and when going freelance, can be fit around your timetable. However, the cons are that it is very competitive, can involve some precarious living and you’ll need a lot of experience. In this day and age, a postgrad in journalism will be very useful, or a course with the National Council for the Training of Journalists. With the Leveson Enquiry and several journalism-related scandals, studying media law may become a must for every aspiring journalist.
Marketing: With marketing, you often have to create content such as blog and social media posts whilst also contacting clients. These are obviously making use of written communication skills which should have been gained from three years of writing essay after essay. I recently attended a Digital Media Jobs fair, and spoke with a few people involved in Marketing. The impression I gained was that these employers don’t just look for people who have studied marketing, they appreciate it when somebody has other skills and qualifications under their belt, as marketing can be taught in a few months. An ability to write clearly is quite a skill; most people can write, but can they write well?
Copywriting: Copywriting is rather like a blend of Journalism and Marketing. You do write on an everyday basis, from company news letters to articles, but they’ll be to promote a specific company. Copywriting is suited for those that enjoy writing but the competitiveness and instability of journalism turn them off. In the end, copywriting is an ideal, 9-5 job and can pay quite reasonably after a few years.
Editing: Again, dealing with the written word, and pretty self-explanatory! Don’t assume all editorial roles are senior positions in magazines, as editors are needed for many different companies! Some require editors to look and create content for web pages, others, such as publishing companies, need copy-editors for manuscripts. An English degree proves your grasp of English is pretty solid, which is a necessity for Editing of course!
Like I said, these are just a few options. With a degree and the right amount of experience you are qualified for quite a lot of different roles. You just need to think creatively and go hunting down some experience before your degree ends!