Being an English Language and Literature major, you probably would have heard these words countless times, ‘What will you do with an English degree?’ ‘Do you aspire to become a teacher?’ ‘Well, being a teacher isn’t that bad’ ‘English majors often end up unemployed, and even if they manage to get a job, it is underpaid.’
The day after your graduation, you probably had this thought running through your mind, ‘I majored in English, now what? Should I just go clean tables at McDonald’s or become a bartender at Starbucks? Should I end up working at a place where I barely get to use my creativity fully and end up earning a meager amount of salary by working 15 hours a day?’ The answer is to wait until the end of the article, and you can decide for yourself if pursuing a degree in English Language and Literature is worth it, or not.
What inspired me to major in English Language and Literature?
The inspiration to pursue English Language and Literature came to me as a revelation when I was sitting in my eleventh-grade physics class and watched my teacher explain quantum physics and Einstein’s gravitational formulas. I dreadfully waited for the lesson to be over so I could go home and spend time reading the works of poets and writers who have died a hundred years ago such as John Keats, Mirza Ghalib, Rumi, Mary Shelley, and Maya Angelou.
When other girls my age spent their exam break preparing for their Math exam, I’d sit in the corner of my room and read Sophocles philosophy. Reading about Plato intrigued me, and in my free time, I’d read about women of color who have made significant contributions toward art, literature, and history. Every day, all throughout high school, I kept reminding myself ‘once I get out of this place, I will study what I love. I will study what makes me feel happy, instead of pursuing a career just for the sake of getting a degree that will promise a stable degree.’
The truth about college education and the employment world is that you will not be able to succeed if you do not put in the effort. Without hard work, dedication, and commitment, you will not be able to achieve anything worthwhile. Let’s face the reality, whether you aspire to pursue a career in medicine, engineering, chemistry, creative writing, or arts, you will fail at some point in your professional journey. Failure is not just bound to ‘English majors’ or ‘art majors.’
One of the worst misconceptions people have regarding English Language and Literature majors is that it is a useless degree. Some people might struggle for a few years after graduation. However, as long as you’re doing what you’re passionate about, you can succeed in the career you aspire to pursue.
English Language and Literature stereotypes
No, we don’t just read novels. Yes, it is a small part of our curriculum, but it is only to help us teach the art of critical thinking and critical analysis. The stereotypes associated with being an English Language and Literature major are plenty. One of the most common stereotypes is that people with an English Language and Literature degree only aspire to become a secondary school teacher.
There is nothing wrong with being a secondary school teacher, and there is nothing wrong with aspiring to become an English Language and Literature lecturer or a professor. However, what is wrong is that people point their fingers at a specific major and consider it to be inferior to what they’re studying. No, just because you’re studying business, does not mean it promises success for you, and just because you’re studying medicine doesn’t mean it promises success unless you work for it, practice it, and go through a specific period of training in your respective field of work.
No, you cannot land a specific job with an English Language and Literature degree unless you don’t have the relevant skills or work experiences in your field of work. Work experiences associated with an English Language and Literature degree vary from creative writing to academics.
English Language and Literature careers
Unlike most of the careers and fields of work, an English Language and Literature degree prepares you for a variety of careers. I have compiled a list of careers you can pursue after pursuing a degree in English Language and Literature.
1. PR Coordinator
Do you have a natural talent for storytelling? Are you a creative bug that you want to let out through creating metaphors, proses, poems, blogs, articles, or presentations? Then being a PR is a career for you! Being a PR, you will get a chance to put forward your ideas through social media, various modes of communications, or through various media outlets.
According to a report compiled by the U.S News and World, PR is the 3rd best career to pursue in the field of media jobs and creative writing. As a PR coordinator, it will be your responsibility to deal with public inquiries and press releases. Working in PR is specifically enjoyable for you if you possess the qualities of interpersonal communication, creative writing, public speaking, organizational and promotional skills.
Journalism is not bound to a single role. You can be a sports journalist, a business journalist, a medical journalist, a political journalist, a crime journalist, a fashion journalist, a lifestyle and entertainment journalist.
According to careerexplorer, journalists with skills for media and specific knowledge in the field of economics, science, technology, or politics have more chances of finding employment in their respective fields of journalism work. Being a journalist, you will have the responsibility of presenting news to your respective media outlets. You can either work as a freelance journalist or under any company. Mostly, to excel in the journalism field requires relevant work experience either through internships or through voluntary work.
3. Media Coordinator
Do you have a passion for working in a field where you get to do different things every day? Would you want a career where you get a chance to express your creativity and put your thoughts into the world? Do you have a knack for digital marketing, advertising, and content writing? Then being a media coordinator is for you!
Being a media coordinator, you will have the responsibility of coordinating content for the social media channels and site to be published. It is a plus if you have a passion for writing, editing, and proofreading. Similar to journalism, being a media coordinator requires work experience either through volunteering or internships.
With a degree in English Language and Literature, you can work in any renowned publishing house of your choice. There are many jobs you can pursue in the publishing industry: marketer, copy editors, production editors, literary agents, literary scouts, copywriter, or salesperson. If you love reading books, working in the publishing industry is the best career for you.
Some of the most vital skills you’d need to work in the publishing industry are strong communications, agitated learning, integrity, honesty, problem-solving creativity, openness, and commitment to produce such a work that will inspire people to read. To work in the field of publishing requires persistence, dedication, and hard work. However, once you get into the field, it will be easier for you to attain a stable job and make a substantial income.
5. ESL Teacher
After pursuing a degree in English Language and Literature, becoming an ESL teacher is probably one of the most convenient and fun options. If you like interacting with people who possess a diverse cultural and racial background, then becoming an ESL teacher is the best option for you!
Being an ESL teacher, you will have the responsibility of teaching the English language to students who do not possess English as their first language. An ESL teacher helps her students become fluent in English speaking and to write English in an adequate form as well.
Is a major in English Language and Literature worth it?
In short, yes! If you enjoy reading books, if you have a knack for poetry, then pursuing a degree in English Language and Literature will be the best choice you’d make. In an English Language and Literature degree, you will get a chance to read the works of writers who have died a hundred years ago. You will get a chance to learn about the lives of philosophers. You will also get a chance to learn about writers who gained fame after their death, and the ones who are still unknown.
An English Language and Literature degree is not just ‘stories,’ it is history, it is philosophy, it is creativity, it is art, and it is critical thinking. It prepares you for a wide range of careers, it prepares you to face reality and teaches you skills that will prove to be extensively substantial in your personal and professional life. Other degrees might teach you about a specific career field. Whereas an English Language and Literature degree teaches you about yourself, it teaches you about life.