3 Real Jobs You Can Get with an English Degree

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

Social Media Doodles Elements

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

Young Woman At Her Desk Taking Note

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

Cooking Pasta. Step By Step Recipe Infographic

Remember that (other) moment you told you parents you were going to major in English, and they asked, “How will you make money?”

Me too!

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? 

Advertisements

3 Ways to Say L8r Dayz to Writer’s Block or How to Become More Productive

Well ‘ello loves, glad to be back for more ginger shenanigans. Today I’m going to talk about something we’ve all experienced at some point in our lives, and it’s not that dream where we look down and realize we’re pantless, though…that happens.

I’m talking about the demon, the worst person at the party, the drunk uncle (thank you SNL). Yep, all of those unrelated people point to one very annoying phenomenon: writer’s block.

The thing is, you don’t have to be a writer to have writer’s block. I would even argue that many who loathe writing, hate writing because they have no blooming idea what to write. Writer’s block, or the more inclusive “productivity block” manifests in daily jobs and responsibilities–reports, assignments, tasks, emails, whatevz. You get an assignment that you’re completely capable of completing, you sit down in front of your laptop with a steaming cup o’ Joe ready to tackle the task into submission, then the next thing you know you’re banging your head on your desk while the sinister curser blinks again and again at you in mockery. This is a dramatization, but you get my drift.

So how do you battle it? How do you take ahold of a task and twist it into what you need it to be? How do you happily slice the pen across that to-do list rather than begrudgingly add another, then another item to it? (If you don’t have a to do list, this is a really good time to start one. Trust. They’ll change you).  Here are 3 ways I combat the evil Sith lord that is writer’s block.

1. Trading Spaces

Srsly people, do you remember this show on TLC? It was my JAM. Two designers were assigned to two different home owners, and the two teams…you guessed it…traded spaces with each other. Each team revamped a drab kitchen or fugly living room while their counterpart in the other house did the same. There was a big reveal and everyone freaked out and lost their minds at how awesome their new digs were. Until they didn’t. There was one episode where someone deisgned a room in the exact replica of a circus tent, and for the first time in my life as a child watching the show, I understood what schadenfreude was. 

I digress.

In order to become more productive, you have to get in a zone of productivity; you need to trade spaces with your unproductive self.  The same place you binge watch 30 Rock with a bag of Cheetos in all likelihood doesn’t house your writing muse.  Sorry.  You brain is trained to recognize spaces for what they are. If you’re cuddled up in your comfy bed wrapped in soft blankets that are just begging you to close your eyes…for…one…second, you’re not going to be able to pound out a chapter of your YA novel or your financial report or that email you absolutely must send. You need to create a zone, a space, that screams productivity.

This place can be a tidy desk, a comfortable (but not too comfortable) chair, a floor, wherever. When I was working on my M.A. thesis there was this one spot on the floor in my spare room I swear had magical powers. I would flop down on the ground not really sure where I was going with my paper, and then like magic, I’d be in the writing zone so deeply that not even a batch of freshly baked cookies could deter me. That’s a lie, but I did accomplish a lot of writing.

I realize if you work in an office you might be worried because your desk is where you both work and shamelessly troll social media or Buzzfeed or cat videos. You’re not alone, child. It’s hard to create a space of serenity and productivity when 10 Ways to Figure out Which Harry Potter Character You’ll Marry is one tantalizing click away (it’s Ron, okay.) This brings me to my next tip…

You, on productivity.

You, on productivity.

2. Pump Up the VAH-uuume (translation: get a mix of sweet, sweet tunes)

If your desk has become a place of Youtube debauchery rather than a laser-focused writing utopia, fear not. Music is a great way to set the mood for basically any situation. I like to think of my life as a crazy, if endearing, movie set to various fabulous songs. That’s how I survive traffic jams or sucky moments. Hey everyone, it’s just a movie! Cue the Hall and Oates!

A playlist is a surprisingly easy and effective way of telling your brain It’s time to work, honey, especially, if your playlist is only played during times of work. Don’t make your writing mix the one your run to, or you’ll find yourself typing entirely too fast and jadjkdja;fdk

Get the picture?

What kind of tunes, you ask? Well that’s entirely up to you! Personally, I like a relaxing playlist because my brain personified is a hamster on a hyperdrive wheel.  Music by The Staves or Fleet Foxes really zens me out and helps me focus. You may need more upbeat songs to power you through that to do list, and that’s great! Whatever it is, make sure you quarantine it to times you need to get. ish. done.

3. Work in Spurts

Spurt is one of the worst words of all time, so I thought I’d incorporate it because I just couldn’t bear the burden of the word alone. You’re welcome.

A few months ago when I was faced with a 45 page thesis paper that required intense, at times, mind-numbing research, I learned real fast that if I didn’t take it in bits, I’d end up in the fetal position in a corner somewhere. It was important for me that I felt like I had accomplished something, but that something didn’t have to be a pristine copy of perfection. That something just had to be a bit.

Some days it was so effing hard to write, to research, to not binge watch The Real Housewives of New York because, y’all, Ramona was losing it and I loved when she lost it! But I told myself to just write for a small section of time. If I absolutely couldn’t do it after the allotted time, then I could settle my buns into the couch and dive into the drama of the Upper East Side as God intended it.

Setting aside 10 or 20 minutes of pure productivity (or if you’re a writer, writing time) is a great way to trick yourself into accomplishing something.  If this seems daunting and you just started Scandal on Netflix, then try for 5.  This is the same logic I used when I began meditating. Except I was pathetic, so I only did it for a minute–60 seconds of silence and mind control. It was hard, but putting a limit on it, telling myself I had to try for 60 seconds and then I could go back to working out the existential meaning of a cronut, actually worked. I’m happy to say I’ve worked up to 10 minutes of sloppy meditation, and if I can train my jittery brain to shut the eff up (for 10 minutes!), then you can complete the task that has been relentlessly mocking you for the last week.

Hopefully these tips help you in your writing and work endeavors.

What are other ways you improve productivity? How do you force yourself to write? What has been the outcome of more writing and productivity? Most importantly, what is your favorite Real Housewives locale?