I started out college majoring in aerospace engineering (don’t be impressed, just wait for the next part) and after a year of beatings from calculus and physics, I left engineering for English. My mom and every other person I know asked me two questions when I switched: #1 Do you want to be a teacher? And #2 What are you going to do with an English degree?
The answer to #1 was HELL no. I have great admiration and respect for teachers, but I have no skills for that occupation. You would not want me teaching your children, trust me.The answer to #2 was I have no idea. And I still had no idea when I graduated and was looking for jobs. But I have learned that an English degree is very valuable. It not only equips you to work in any field, it provides you with the necessary skills to step on people while climbing up that ladder to success.
An English degree can basically get you any job you want by tricking people. For example, it got me my job with Uncle Sam, and it didn’t have anything to do with English. But there are a multitude of fields of work I could’ve gone into. All because English gives you a mastery of language. And when you control language, you can talk people into anything.
Examples of career paths with an English degree:
- Law. You obviously need to have a good grasp of language to present yourself as authoritative and professional. However, in my current job, I have to read a lot of lawyer correspondence and I have discovered that law schools must not emphasize basic grammar and spelling. I don’t blame them. I mean, if you’re in post-grad schooling, it should be safe to assume you have basic English skills. I can guarantee one thing though: that lawyer won’t win any cases. He’ll just be laughed at. But with an English degree you could win, because you’d write such finely crafted arguments that other people would forget what you were actually saying and just do whatever you’re asking.
- Upper management. It’s all about interacting with people and getting them to like you. My current boss is a good boss. I think. But I’m not sure because I’m distracted by his absurdly ungrammatical emails he sends out daily. Oh, and he makes up words too (most recently “interpretate”) which Ben and I enjoy incorporating into our lexicon (which is not a made up word). But as a supervisor/manager/overseer/warden, you could just dazzle them with your eloquence without ever doing any kind of productive work, and they would think you’re the world’s best boss.
- Politics. Oh no, wait, none of them actually write any of their own stuff. Ok, an aide. Then you’d have all the power as the person behind the scenes pulling the strings, and not have to worry about all of that annoying fame.
- Publishing: the business side of writing. When I was applying for jobs right out of college, I tried to work my way into a job with a local press in Jackson. It wasn’t a writing job, though, it was a Public Relations job. Apparently my skills with words were not as powerful then as they are now, because they never called me back. I just knew if I could write a good enough cover letter, they’d overlook my obvious lack of qualifications, and hire me just because I was awesome. My proficiency has grown since then, so I might try again some day. That’s right, watch out University Press.
- Writing. If you actually want to write for the sake of literature and not to manipulate people, it’s very difficult to get published. Your work has to not only stand out, but you have to convince a publisher to read it in the first place. This is where the manipulating part comes in. You might be a good writer, or you might not. But it’s all about convincing someone else to give it a chance, and making sure you trick them into thinking it’s good. And just so you know, you’ve all been tricked.
I will admit, though, an English background will not equip you for everything. The one thing an English degree doesn’t help you with is making machines work. No matter how much I might yell and cuss at my sewing machine, I can’t convince it to work properly. I could use my mad skills to read the manual, but I can’t find it. So, alas, I cannot rule the world.
So if you are/were/are thinking about being an English major, don’t let everybody get you down. Just convince them that their degree is worthless.