2 What are “transferable skills”? “Portable skills” that you deliberately carry with you to other professional experiencesSupplement your degreeProvide an employer with concrete evidence of your readiness & qualifications for a position(Rosita)
3 Organizing Representing Negotiating Mediating Delegating WORKING WITH PEOPLEWORKING WITH DATA/ INFORMATIONOrganizingRepresentingNegotiatingMediatingDelegatingPublic SpeakingWritingResearchingEditingSortingGathering dataAnalyzing(Rosita)
4 Value of AN English degree There exists a need for sustained, critical, interpretive reading in many fields. (Simpson)The English major’s interdisciplinary background translates into a wide range of employment options.The broad range of skills developed as an English major (i.e., writing, editing, problem solving, critical thinking and analysis) are highly prized by employers In nearly every profession. (U of Washington)
5 The honorable erik P. kimball A Umass English Alum, The Honorable Erik P. Kimball presides over trials and hearings as a Federal Bankruptcy Court Judge in the Southern District of Florida. The following Q&A is from an interview conducted on 10/25/11: Q: What initially drew you to the English major? A:I went in with the expectation of going to law school. When I graduated, I was waffling about [law school]…I did not make the decision to go to law school until the last possible moment, maybe because I just didn’t know what I wanted to do. Universities were discouraging people to teach in the arts and sciences, because a glut of people were pursuing PhD’s. This is one of the things that pushed me back to law school. Q: What sparked your interest in law? A: I have no idea. There are no lawyers in my family. I come from a thoroughly working class background. Even as a relatively young kid I thought it would be interesting. I’m an atypical lawyer, and definitely not a typical judge: [I spent] half of my work life outside of law practice, which is fairly uncommon, but very useful.
6 Route to careerQ: In what capacity did your English degree prepare you for the challenges of law school and the practice of law? A: Being able to read critically is very important. I do think you learn to read in a different way in law school, but you do have a leg up if you have a facility with language. It’s not as daunting [for an English major] as it is for a chemistry major. [The ability to read critically] is very useful. Law school [also creates] a sort of paradigm shift in how you look at something—but once you do it, you don’t remember what it was like to think before. Law school is not about learning specific things, but about learning a bunch of skills, [most of which have] to do with how you think. Q: What do you like most about law? A: I like the problem-solving aspect of it. Lawyering is [also more] difficult now because there’s [an additional] marketing aspect…I was pretty picky about who I represented. And I turned down cases, [although] I [did have] some clients who I didn’t like, who were unethical. I think a lot of lawyers are afraid to turn down work, because sometimes it comes from a referral source. Sometimes they are worried that [the] work will dry up.
7 Federal Bankruptcy judge Q: What is your favorite thing about your job? A: My favorite thing is that my entire job is to do the right thing. Lawyers have to represent a client…My job is to simply get the right answer. Q: What is the most challenging aspect of your work? A: People file bankruptcy to obtain discharge. Every once in a while people do bad things, or do almost bad things. Denying a [bankruptcy] discharge order is the single hardest thing I do, [although it is] very uncommon. Otherwise I love everything about [my work]. Q: Judges have to think—and speak—on their feet. Do you feel that the English major has given you an edge in your overall ability to do a job well, and in your specific career as a federal bankruptcy judge? A: Certainly the breadth of language helps. Do I have to speak publicly? Yes. I speak at conferences regularly. So you just get a facility with [public speaking] through practice. [However] it’s easier sitting on the bench— it’s something you get comfortable with over time. My job is to hear the facts, so I need to pay attention, [but] it’s certainly easier than presenting the case…Writing [well] also differentiates people in technical fields.
8 English major Transferable skills Q: In what ways do you feel the English major has been advantageous to your current career? A: Having the skills to analyze something and think about it, considering a text in one way or another…all those skills are very useful in being able to express yourself. The ones that really made it were the ones who had other skills. That is uniformly the case in what I’ve seen. The reason those people did so well, is because they could write about it. [In] business school, they can’t write—they might be able to understand, but they can’t communicate well. [When there is a] need to communicate on a regular basis, the people who communicate really well make a big difference. Q: What specific skills did you cull from the major that you bring to work with you every day? A: Interacting with documents and writing: what I say and write carries a lot of weight. I have to be very careful about what I write, because it gets published…people [consult my documents] for how the law should be interpreted in other similar--sometimes parallel--circumstances.
9 Words of AdviceQ: What advice would you give to new graduates receiving a BA in English? A: There are two things that are very important: 1) Make sure whatever you’re doing you actually like--it has to be something that really interests you; 2) Work with people you like and respect. Q: Any other advice? A: See a bunch of things. See what might interest you. Most people go to law school and find something new. Study the things that you enjoy. Getting a well-rounded education in the humanities is very important.
10 main conclusionsMastery of English is an important core skill for employment, laying the groundwork for building further professional skillsets.English majors, as opposed to students in other concentrations, incorporate more expansive and inter-disciplinary approaches to problem-solving, supplementing well-developed analytical reasoning with flexibility of thought.English majors venture on to a wide range of rewarding careers after, and due to, their undergraduate study. (Simpson)The English major offers versatility and wide options for employment. English graduates use their education in a variety of fields, and your future career may relate more to your personal career interests, work values and transferable skills than anything specific to the content of your major. (U of Washington)
11 Summary of Transferable skills specific to the English Major Critical interpretive readingUnderstanding components of complex problemsPerceiving patterns/structuresComparing/ContrastingSynthesizing informationManaging a project from conception to completionFinding solutions to intricate problemsPerceiving a problem from multiple points of viewManaging InformationEstablishing hypothesesInterpreting dataSummarizing/presenting informationPresenting clear & logical argumentsEvaluating resultsAnalyzing texts & informationUsing precise languageAssessing an audienceCreating persuasive messagesDrafting and editing documents(Rosita)
12 References“Careers for English Majors.” English Advising Career Page. Undergraduate Advising at U of Washington, 29 Sept Web. 12 Oct <http://depts.washington.edu/engl/advising/careers/englcareers.php>. Simpson, James. “Prospective Concentrators: A Message from the Chair of the English Department, Professor James Simpson.” Department of English. Harvard University, Web. 9 Oct <http://english.fas.harvard.edu/prospective- concentrators>. Smith, Rosita. “Transferable Skills.” Career Services. San Diego State University. Web. 12 Oct <http://career.sdsu.edu/resources/handouts/Transferable_Skills.pdf>.