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“Well, what are you going to do with that?”

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Presentation on theme: "“Well, what are you going to do with that?”"— Presentation transcript:

1 “Well, what are you going to do with that?”
A Presentation on the question English majors are asked the most. By Shauna Burke Featuring a Conversation with UMass Alum Kate Dixon

2 What are you going to do with that?
As English majors, we are often asked what we are going to do with our degree However, we’re usually not asked why we picked English as our focus Former UMass student and English major, Kate Dixon says she chose English “because during the course of school I discovered that I really liked to write and I really liked to read. I especially enjoyed literary analysis work – getting to write about what I read, best of both worlds! So it was a natural fit for me to pursue an English degree, I never really had any question about it”. Most English majors share the love of literature- don’t worry this isn’t a bad thing! English majors are learning about literature of the past and keeping it alive amidst the technology craze- we are the key to the past! - Remember that the next time someone asks you why you chose English.

3 Jobs Today’s job market is limited and can be daunting to those who find themselves loving English, but also love making money. Many students who study English think that their only option is to teach, and that is not for everybody. As someone who is an English major, and not sure of what she wants to do, I often find myself wondering what I will do come graduation time. From speaking with Kate Dixon, I heard about one job that I never looked into before. Kate uses her English degree to write grants for the National Women’s Law Center in Washington DC. Like many English majors, Kate was unsure of what she wanted to do with her degree. SHe went to graduate school for teaching and learned that it wasn’t for her, but she is still glad for the experience, and to cross one choice off of her job search. Kate looked into non-profit work after researching some jobs she might find interesting. Remember to use your campus resources, especially career services! Kate said “After my sophomore year, I started to think about what kinds of career fields I could get into with an English degree other than teaching. I was slightly restless on campus – I considered studying abroad, but decided to do a semester-long internship instead. I worked with the English department and the career center to investigate what kind of options I had in Boston (my family lives in the area), and I found an anti-hunger non-profit that offered semester long, full time internships w/ a small stipend in the Communications Dept. I did that, LOVED it, and have basically been working in the Communications and Development fields ever since”.

4 How do you use your English degree in your career?
As an English major, I love to read, write and analyze, but how do I use these skills and incorporate them into a career? When some people think of non-profit work, they don’t always think of writing. But the most important part of non-profit work, the funding, is backed by persuasive arguments written by former English majors. When I asked Kate how she uses her skills from the English major in her work, she replied “ It is largely the writing skills that get used in non-profit work, especially the persuasive writing skills – you are either figuring out a way to promote an org’s work generally to specific audiences (Comms) or to make a pitch for funding (Development). The analysis of other people’s writing/work is less common, though the analysis skills you learn do help you revise your own work sometimes – on a re-read you’ll see where you need more support, or where an argument is lacking, etc”. As English majors, we’re always making arguments in our papers about what we’ve read and we defend our claims. These are skills necessary in non-profit jobs. When Kate needs more funding for her organization, she must make a claim and support it...just like we have to when we make a claim about the imagery used in The Merchant of Venice in our own essays.

5 Non- Profit Work When talking to Kate, I became interested in the idea of non-profit work, something I had never really considered for myself before Working for a non-profit company is a reward in that fact that you’re helping people everyday It is also a great way to put the English skills you’ve spent so much time learning to good use When asked what she would say to an English major looking into non-profit work, Kate said: 1) Work on honing your persuasive writing skills in particular 2) Do your homework on the field as early as possible – investigate different types of work and different issue focuses that interest you 3) Use existing resources – on campus, it’s your career center, your English deparment, and your alumni network, and externally it’s tons of non-profit related websites, blogs, and networks. (Young Non-Profit Professionals Network [YNPN] is one good one.)

6 Use it or Lose it As English majors and UMass students, we have to use the on-campus resources provided to us As a student with so many questions, I didn’t know where to turn for answers. However in English 491: Building Yourself Up, I learned that there are so many places on campus to help us make the most of our time at UMass, and even after we graduate! When asked what advice she would give to English majors who don’t know what they want to do after college, Kate said “I’d say use the resources you have at school to investigate all your potential options – there might be some that you had never even considered. And also, don’t worry unduly about it if your first job out of school isn’t your dream job. My husband had two English degrees too and he is actually a web guy now – he creates and manages websites and blogs, and he really enjoys developing content and overseeing a dynamic resource. But he’d NEVER have seen himself doing that when we graduated. So, in the end, be ready to go where the river takes you!” Use the resources available to you!

7 So, what now? You no longer need to feel limited by your major, or ashamed when someone asks you what your major actually is An English degree is a huge asset to have, as it gives you the tools to analyze and observe and to convince a potential employer to give you the job you want So now...take a breath and remember that you have unlimited options when it comes to your future. As long as you take advantage of the resources available to you and you do the work to build and hone your skills, you will be able to successfully navigate your life in the real world Enjoy your time at UMass and in the English department, both will teach you skills you will use for the rest of your life!

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