Your Career

What Can I Do With an English Degree?

Yes, the English Department at Malone can prepare you to be a great English teacher—but we can prepare you for many other kinds of careers as well. This section might look long and text-heavy, but we strongly encourage you to spend some time thinking carefully and realistically about your career options and callings right from the start of your college career. Four years will go by quickly, and your parents are looking forward to your financial independence!

Employable You

First Question: What does an employable person look like—or more specifically, what will the employable version of yourself look like in the not-too-distant future? The answer is multi-dimensional:

Character

It won’t appear in many position descriptions, but employers do care about what kind of person they work alongside each day. Are you smart, imaginative, interesting and broadly conversant with the world? Are you a person of integrity, compassionate, deeply grounded and comfortable in your own skin? Courageous? Hard working and conscientious? Emotionally intelligent? Capable of understanding another person’s perspective?

General abilities

Both educators and business leaders spend a lot of effort trying to articulate the kinds of general intellectual abilities and aptitudes that our students and our changing society need to cultivate. Here’s one example, from The Partnership for 21st Century Learning, a coalition of leaders in the business community and in education.

Learning Skills
  • Critical Thinking
  • Creative Thinking
  • Collaborating
  • Communicating
Literacy Skills
  • Information Literacy
  • Media Literacy
  • Technology Literacy
Life Skills
  • Flexibility
  • Initiative
  • Social Skills
  • Productivity
  • Leadership

Most of these skills and aptitudes are part of the life blood of an English major. Four years spent reading, writing, researching, discussing, analyzing, and reflecting upon literature will do this to a person! In a fast-moving age in which specific job titles come and go and most people participate in multiple careers over the course of a lifetime, well-developed general aptitudes may be the most enduring and important career benefit of a college education.

Specific or technical job skills

There is, of course, a third element to employability. Employers need to get work done, and they don’t necessarily have time to turn all your general aptitudes into specific job skills. An employer wants to hire a digital copywriter, a content marketer, an e-Commerce analyst, a grant writer, a corporate communications manager. They don’t post positions for an “Englisher.” How does an English or Creative Writing degree prepare you with the specific job skills you will need to start a career, especially given the wide variety of careers for which these majors can prepare you?

The answer is that, like most college graduates, you will have work to do to bridge this gap. Only you can decide where you want to go and what you are called to do, but here are some of the ways we will help you close that “skills gap” and prepare for the job market:

  • We supervise both on-campus and off-campus internship opportunities, for course credit.
  • Our interdisciplinary Editing and Publishing minor prepares students for a wide variety of workplace tasks, including the linking of visual and textual content that is so often a part of modern professional communication.
  • Our student publications provide opportunities for hands-on experience.
  • Our senior capstone class will put you in touch with working professionals, and help you with job search skills.
  • Malone provides multiple career resources for students and alumni, and your faculty advisor will help guide you through the process. 

Our recent alumni have gone on to work as writers, teachers, lawyers, novelists, editors, designers, pastors, librarians, and more. We look forward to seeing how you write your own chapter in this story as you develop your gifts, discern your callings, and take advantage of the many resources you will have as an English major at Malone.

English as a Pre-Professional Major

English studies have a long tradition of successfully helping prepare students for law school or seminary, graduate programs that require high-level proficiency with language, interpretation, and communication. Students who combine English study with the required core of science courses have a strong rate of successful admittance to medical school. The general knowledge and skills cultivated by students who excel in English studies can help open doors into a surprising variety of graduate programs.

Career Development Center

Malone University's Office of Career Services provides valuable assistance in preparing for a future career. The office has numerous resources, such as texts, materials, and internet sites, for those majoring in the liberal arts--including English. Visit Career Development Center.

Recommended Reading

  • From Graduation to Career Ready in 21 Days: A Guide for English Majors (2015) by Alyssa W. Christensen. If you have an English degree and are ready to find your first full-time job, then this book is for you. This approachable, detailed guide is packed with the information and resources English majors need to successfully navigate the job search process in 21 days.
  • Getting from College to Career Rev Ed: Your Essential Guide to Succeeding in the Real World (2012) by Lindsey Pollak: Multiple strategies for students to be career-ready in today's competitive job market, including students who are just discovering their interests. Topics include interview preparation, networking, service events, and blogging. 90 suggestions and actionable steps for those planning for their careers.
  • You Majored in What? Mapping Your Path from Chaos to Career (2010) by Katharine Brooks: Effective strategies to help readers mine their academic and life experiences for new insights into landing jobs with the best employers, and finding alternatives when the situation calls for a Plan B. 
  • Networking for People Who Hate Networking: A Field Guide for Introverts, the Overwhelmed, and the Underconnected (2010) by Devora Zack: In many ways networking and job searching are synonymous, but it’s a concept that many find confusing, intimidating, and paralyzing either during or after college.  This is a realistic and encouraging discussion that dispels the image of networking as a game of self-serving schmoozing for extreme extroverts and makes it into something a normal decent person (like you!) can actually do and even enjoy. 
  • Great Jobs for Liberal Arts Majors (2007) by Blythe Cameron: A wide ranging discussion of job searching and possible “career paths” traditionally open to liberal arts majors, including teaching and law.  
  • Career Match: Connecting Who You Are with What You’ll Love to Do (2007) by Shoya Zichy & Ann Bidou: A book that helps you do some “personality typing” to help you figure out what sorts of careers will involve you in tasks that you will be good at and enjoy.
  • Smart Moves for Liberal Arts Grads (2006) by Sheila J. Curran & Suzanne Greenwald: After a succinct 35-page discussion of general career advice for liberal arts majors, this book goes on to narrate the particular career stories of 23 different people with liberal arts degrees who have gone on to find their way in worlds of business, art, nonprofits, and other realms, in both conventional and creatively unorthodox ways. 

Additional Books

  • I'm an English Major - Now What? by Tim Lemire. Writers Digest Books. 2006.
  • What Can You Do With a Major in English: Real People. Real Jobs. Real Rewards by Shelley O'Hara. Cliffs Notes. 2005.
  • Careers for Writers and Others Who Have a Way with Words by Robert W. Bly. McGraw-Hill. 2003.
  • Careers for Bookworms and Other Literary Types by Marjorie Eberts and Margaret Gisler. 2nd ed. McGraw-Hill. 2002.
  • Great Jobs for English Majors, 3rd ed. by Julie DeGolan and Stephen Lambert. McGraw-Hill. 2006.