English Majors and the Workplace
What can I do with an English major?
A perennial question asked of English majors—and one that they often ask of themselves—is what kind of work they will do after graduation. Students who choose to major in English haven’t selected a course of study that leads to a specific outcome, unless of course they plan to become English teachers. An Accounting major becomes an accountant. A Civil Engineering major becomes a civil engineer. But what do English majors become? As it turns out, many interesting things indeed. Part of the excitement of majoring in English is the wide range of different opportunities that present themselves. Quite often, these opportunities are in fields that students hadn’t even known about when they declared their English major. Jennifer Salamone ’07 and Colette Bazylinski ’07, for example, never expected to work for an academic database company as abstractors and editors, but that’s what they’ve been doing since graduation. While the opportunities are many, the message is the same: employers value the skills English majors develop—cogent expression, careful analysis, and clear communication. English majors learn the value of attention to detail and of drawing conclusions from evidence.
What have recent Merrimack English majors done with their degrees?
About half of the English majors at Merrimack pursue teaching certification as undergraduates and become schoolteachers. Merrimack has an excellent placement rate and many of our graduates have jobs in great school systems. The other half of our majors end up in a wide range of different pursuits. English majors often find rewarding work in journalism, marketing, public relations, publishing, and libraries. Many of our majors end up pursuing graduate work in these areas and others, including law school and business school. An especially growing field is the high-tech world of Library Science. A master’s degree in this area opens up terrific opportunities to work in collection and database development, reference, and cataloguing. Brian Courtemanche ‘92 is currently the library director at Endicott College. Some students, of course, go on to pursue master’s degrees and Ph.D.s in English literature or Rhetoric, like Michelle Niestepski ’01. Michelle recently completed her doctoral degree at the University of Rhode Island and currently holds a post-doctoral fellowship at Northeastern University.
What does the future hold for English majors?
The most recent studies of future employment trends indicate that today’s college graduates will most likely have anywhere from ten to twenty different jobs during their working life. The Merrimack College English major prepares its students for the flexible thinking that is necessary for success in a dynamic and ever-changing workplace. The Merrimack Career Service Office will also help prepare you for that ever-important first step after graduation.
What if I’m not sure about career plans?
While it is useful to think about possible employment opportunities, it is also important to choose a major that you love. If you are passionate about what you study, you will be happy to put the time in. If you put in the time, you increase the chance of doing well. So if upon declaring an English major you don’t know exactly what you want to do after graduation, relax! Opportunities will arise. As graduation nears, you will begin to develop a sense of what you’d like to do and how you might get there. We’ll do all that we can to help. In the meantime, enjoy the many different and engaging courses you will take as an English major, get to know your professors, and get involved in the college community.