Why Study English?
Students often wonder why English matters when today's technology allows for the quick check of spelling and grammar with the click of a button. The obvious answer might be that this quick check is not always accurate and learning how to spell and write correctly are necessary skills no matter what your field of study. However, English is also more than just spelling and grammar. In an English class, not only will your instructors teach you how to write a fluid essay but also how to think critically, conduct research, and, yes, how to write grammatically correct sentences. In literature courses, you'll be exposed to diverse cultures, writers, and thinkers. In creative writing classes, you'll tap into your imaginative skills and construct original works of poetry, creative non-fiction, and fiction. In technical writing courses, you'll learn how to communicate succinctly and effectively in situations specifically related to the workplace. At Clark, you can even enroll in a class that will allow you to take part in the publication of an award-winning magazine.
All of Clark's English classes can lead towards further study at a four-year university or meaningful employment. English majors go on to work in many diverse areas including writing/editing, education, publishing, advertising, public relations, business, and law. Beyond these areas, having the ability to write well and think critically is something employers today demand. In fact a recent report by the AACU (The Association of American Colleges and Universities) finds that "When it comes to the types of skills and knowledge that employers feel are most important to workplace success, large majorities of employers do NOT feel that recent college graduates are well prepared. This is particularly the case for applying knowledge and skills in real-world settings, critical thinking skills, and written and oral communication skills." These are exactly the kind of skills you will gain in English classes!
English majors are a versatile group and have the skills to work in many different industries. Just look at this list of some famous English majors:
- Steven Spielberg, film director
- Sally Ride, astronaut
- Conan O’Brien, comedian and entertainer
- Barbara Walters, journalist and TV executive
- Bob Woodward, journalist who broke the Watergate story
- Paul Newman, actor, food entrepreneur, and philanthropist
- Michael Eisner, former CEO of Disney
- Judy McGrath, former CEO of MTV
- Anne Mulcahy, former CEO of Xerox
- Andrea Jung, former CEO of Avon cosmetics
- Grant Tinker, former CEO of NBC
- Bartlett Giamatti, former Commissioner of Major League Baseball and President of Yale University
- Sting, singer and entertainer
- Clarence Thomas, Supreme Court Justice
- Mario Cuomo, former Governor of New York
- Pete Wilson, former Governor of California
- Hank Paulson, CEO of Goldman Sachs and former U.S. Secretary of the Treasury
- Carol Brownder, former EPA Director
- Harold Varmus, Nobel Laureate in Medicine
Interested in more information about careers for English majors? Go to the Clark Career Exploration and Investigation page or take a look at the information below:
Many English majors go onto careers as primary or secondary education teachers, jobs which require at least a B.A. degree. However, there are also other options in the educational field. English majors can work as tutors and as educational administrators. Some may travel abroad and teach English as a second language (ESL); others may work locally at museums or non-project organizations. With an advanced degree, you can teach at a community college or university.
Employers: Public schools, private schools, colleges and universities, language institutes, libraries, museums, private learning centers, test preparation organizations, and non-profit organizations.
Relevant Clark Courses: Any English course; in fact, you would be wise to take as many as you can from our diverse array of offerings of literature, composition, and creative writing. Keep in mind that literature and creative writing courses count as Humanities credit.
As a writer or an editor, your options are many, whether you want to work as freelancer or for a specific employer. Being a writer or editor isn't just about working on a book, but can involve a variety of other writing opportunities at specific companies and organizations.
On the other side of writing is the publication of works, and within this area, there are opportunities to be involved in advertising, sales, circulation, production, publicity, promotion, and more.
Employers: Trade publishing, specific interest magazines, association magazines, Sunday newspaper supplements, educational publishing, religious books and magazines, professional and scholarly publishing, university presses, independent publishers, e-books and audio-books.
Relevant Clark Courses: Creative writing and literature courses--especially English 277: Introduction to Literary Publication--and English 160: Writing for the Web.
Advertising and Public Relations
From copywriting, art direction, account management, and more, strong writing, critical thikning, and research skills are a must in this field. In both advertising and public relations, messages must be conveyed clearly and with creativity in order to catch the public's attention.
As you can see from the list of famous English majors above, there are many who have had successful careers in business. Like these other fields, the options are many, whether you want to work in management, sales, marketing, human resources, or insurance (claims and underwriting). In all cases, understanding how to convey your point clearly and persuasively (remember those argument papers in English 101 and 102) will be important.
Of course, to become a lawyer requires an advanced law degree, but many lawyers start their path as English majors, where they hone their writing, critical thinking, and research skills.