Hello guys and dolls. I hope wherever you are, there’s a nice cup of coffee and a bag/plate of carbs within arm’s distance. Today we’re going to deviate a bit from recommendations and into a darker territory.
The real world.
Now, before you go crawling back into your Netflix-laden hole, hear me out. The real world is kind of scary, yes. Bills and taxes and job interviews and termites are all equally horrible, and they’re all things “adults” have to deal with. However, everyone hates dealing with blandly adult things. Moreover, most everyone longs for that sweet time when they were able to ask the adults in the room to wave their magic wands and make all the bad and boring disappear.
Sadly, the wand is gone, folks.
For those who’ve just graduated with a Liberal Arts or English degree and find themselves in the hire me hell hole (a term I coined while I resided there), the wand seems like damn lie.
Anyone who has decided to pursue a Literature or Writing Degree has inevitably undergone the questions that accompany them. What are you going to do with that degree? and Are you silently judging my grammar? The answer to the latter is yes, but the first question can give even the most overconfident bibliophile pause. I would argue that even those majoring in “safe” degrees like Accounting or Biology often find the question stumps them, too. Does anyone really know exactly what they want to do for the rest of their lives in their early twenties? Really? Even people in stable jobs question that decision from time to time (or all of the time), so why the book major bashing, people?
No matter, the question is a valid one (kind of) so it’s only appropriate you provide a (kind of) valid answer. Below are three fields I’ve come across that match the skills of most English majors quite well. And people are catching on.
Enjoy, my coffee drinking compadres.
1. Social Media Manager
Before you give me the bird and start your tirade about how social media is the downfall of our society, wait. Hear me out. Then, by all means, continue tirade-ing.
- Writing about topics you’ve never before known.
- Figuring out the perfect turn of phrase.
- Understanding the essence of something and communicating it to others in a way that makes them laugh, makes them think, and/or makes them want more.
Do any of these tasks sound familiar? The answer, of course, is yes. Chances are, you’ve had to accomplish all three of these tasks in one or all of your Literature or Writing courses. Social Media may not seem similar to analyzing a Jane Austen work through a feminist lens; however, the skills that allow you to do so are quite compatible. Similar to a time when you’ve been met with texts you’d never before read, managing social medias for businesses require you to dig a little (or most often, a lot) deeper. Social Media Managers often are met with clients who are professionals in areas they never in their wildest dreams thought they’d deal with, though they’re able to do the relevant research in order to represent them. Personally, I’ve managed social media accounts for funeral directors, pest control specialists, mortgage lenders, and a brand of vodka. I’ve learned a lot from them and have been able to use those skills garnered from my Literature courses.
I’ve also had to put on my researching pants and dive head first into the ever-shifting terrain of digital marketing. Researching what interests people, what trends, and what turns people off is actually fascinating. Moreover, finding the perfect way to reach an audience is extremely satisfying, no matter if it occurs through a thesis or a tweet.
2. Content Creator
This position probably sounds a little more enticing. The title flutters; however, the job itself is tough, relevant work. Creating relevant, SEO friendly content about, say, a plumbing company may seem daunting, but Content Creators eat stuff like that for breakfast. Their content comes in the form of website content, blogs, informational brochures or press releases, just to name a few. The title itself shifts from Content Writer to Content Creator to Content Developer; however, the tasks are similar. Create content for a company, individual, or brand in order to draw more attention, gain sales, and provide a well-written narrative. For this job, it’s important that you have a background in research and you’re willing to expand your knowledge base in order to understand seemingly unusable information.
For example, writing 500 words about teeth whitening and cavities for a dental office while implementing key words is just another day in the life for a Content Creator. Content creation can be fun; however, it can feel mind-numbing if you have to consistently create content for fields that don’t interest you at all. That’s where creativity comes in! As a Literature or Writing major, you’re asked to really examine a text—even one that doesn’t interest you in the least—through different lenses, which allows you to expand your interest and gain confidence in the subject matter. The same can be said for tackling a subject for content writing you’ve never before tackled. Content creators must have a handle on the audience, as well, so they know the type of content wants to be read.
3. Technical Writer
Remember that (other) moment you told you parents you were going to major in English, and they asked, “How will you make money?”
At the time I recall yelling, Let me be me!!!!! and running up to my room, slamming the door, and blasting Avril Lavigne or something equally angsty. But I digress…
Technical writing can make you real cabbage (aka money). We aren’t talking brain surgeon or engineer money, but we are talking this kind of money. On the flip side, technical writing is aptly named.
It’s technical. Writing.
Not creative, not stream of conscious, not implementing awesome words like cabbage, but technical. Many technical writing jobs require the writer compose directions, explanations or instructions about a difficult subject, or process in an understandable way. Technical writers work in, you guessed it, primarily information-technology-related industries. Types of documents technical writers compose are customer service scripts, training course materials, contracts, policy documents, white papers, etc. If you think, I’ve never written customer service scripts, training course materials, contracts, policy documents, white papers, etc. fear not! That’s where that trusty research background comes in. Also, in many cases English majors have to take a Technical Writing course where they learn the basics of formatting and audience for these types of documents.
So there you have it—three sound counterarguments to the illogical questioning of your life choices. Next on the list, how Netflix actually makes you a more well-rounded critic. Or maybe I’ll just write more about books I’m reading…
What are other ways you think your Liberal Arts degree prepares you for the “real world”? Any other career suggestions?