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Jobs That Put Your B.A. in English to Work

snoopyOne of the most difficult questions that any college graduate asks themselves is, of course, the dreaded, “What do I do now?” We’ve all asked ourselves this at some point. Unfortunately for individuals like myself who majored in English and Comparative Literature, the answer to that question isn’t always clear. Thankfully, I’ve been where you are and I’m here to tell you that life isn’t as bleak as you think it may be. That’s the good news. The bad news? Success in any field is contingent upon your own individual situation and effort. So, now that we have the disclaimer out of the way, let’s see what we can do about getting you a job.

Teaching / Writing Abroad

Most people have the misconception that going abroad to teach isn’t a financially stable option for success. I know that I had this misconception when I first moved to Korea to start my work as a curriculum developer. I was hired and placed by a recruiting firm of which there is no shortage of. I was able to secure plane tickets, a month of vacation, and of course, a nifty compensation package including: an apartment, roughly $2,600 USD in monthly pay, healthcare, and take advantage of the national pension plan which included matching payments from my employer (which all full-time workers in Korea are guaranteed). When all was said and done at the end of my year and a half stay, I was able to cash out roughly $5,000 USD and come home a little more traveled with stories and experiences that will last a life time. For an entertaining, first-person account, head over to Kimchibytes where NSB’s own international editor Brian speaks about his own experiences.

Technical Writer

If you think reports are done once you’ve wrapped up school, think again. Technical writing is a field that is dominated by college graduates from all majors and walks of life. Luckily, your degree in English makes you uniquely qualified to jump into the field without having to worry about what industry you want to work in. For instance, I was able to leverage my English degree into a technical writing gig at a tax consulting firm in LA. My ability to write on just about anything made me the ideal candidate to draft, review, and edit reports for clients in industries ranging from simple manufacturing to Department of Defense contractors.

Editor

Editing is a skill that most people understand, but few know the true value of. It isn’t just about spotting mistakes, it’s about flow, conversation, and targeting your audience properly. To that end, individuals that have studied literature have a true advantage insofar as this field is concerned. Not only because we were all forced to peer edit papers during our collegiate careers, but also because we have been trained to manipulate voice, tone, writing style, and vocabulary to target specific audiences and do so in an efficient manner without adding too much fluff to the writing. Add to that set of skills the ability to stay relevant, engaging, and exciting, and you have a formula for success! Working as an editor is a thankless job that doesn’t command a high salary, at least at the start, but it is one that can open a lot of doors to you.

Screenwriter

Like most writing gigs, screenwriting starts with low pay and no benefits. Work is sporadic to say the least and many an aspiring writer finds themselves working in flexible dead-end jobs while hoping for a shot at the big time. Though it isn’t impossible, most people do not have the patience and fortitude to select such a path. All that being said, being a creative professional isn’t easy in and of itself, regardless of what field or concentration you select. So, if you have a love for the art, the only thing left is to do it. Anthony Pinkett, a screenwriter based out of Los Angeles spoke to us about this path recently, “Writing is the easy part, getting paid for it is the hard part. The only real advice I can give though is: hone your craft—read, watch and learn whatever you can to become a better writer. Network, because in any industry it’s less what you know and more who you know, and be ready to go hard when the perfect pitch comes at you.” Well said Anthony.

Blogger

While blogs are a lot of fun to read, they are also viable revenue streams, though NSB is probably not any indication of that since we don’t really make any money here… In any case, many individuals have been able to leverage what was once a hobby into a 9-to-whenever job! We hear all it takes is determination, diligence, and a bit of luck. A good place to start is by, you guessed it, starting a blog! Of course, it’s definitely harder than that, but once you have a target audience, some writing under your belt, and some topics that are close to your heart or that you feel comfortable writing about, all that’s left is getting the word out there! Oh by the way, feel free to share this post or our site when you get a chance! 🙂

Letter Writer

I didn’t know that this was an actual job until I had graduated college. Apparently, there is a growing segment of the market that caters to putting words on paper to send off to others, giving a clear, cohesive voice to those not blessed with the gift of gab. Letter writing, like most service jobs, is highly dependent on your personal network and your reputation. However, once you secure and build your rep and client base, the sky’s the limit. How long that takes, well, that’s entirely up to you! This is another job that may best be started as a part time commitment until you can build yourself up to a steady income situation.

I know that this isn’t the full spectrum of all the opportunities open to you, and I don’t claim that it is. Hopefully, it will give you some ideas about what you can do once you leave the safety of college and join the rest of us in the rat race. Until then, weigh your options, figure out what you want to do long term, then take the plunge! You have to be in it to win it and the sooner you’re in it, the better off you’ll be!

Alex S. Pak
A young professional with a passion for rhetoric. He was born and raised in Southern California where he attended high school and college. Alex focused his studies on the humanities and is a keen observer of the human condition. In is spare time, enjoys reading, watching movies, and partying like a rock star.
http://www.facebook.com/alex.s.pak

2 thoughts on “Jobs That Put Your B.A. in English to Work

  1. I have to say, in the modern economy employment potential needs to be a top factor in people’s decision making about what degree to get in college. Where I think my generation was raised with the idea that the most important thing is simply having a degree, this recent economic downturn has shown that some degrees are much more valuable than others. This is the advice I’ve given to my niece who’s going to college next year (man, I’m getting old).

    1. I hear ya. It is tough. It’s also hard to hear people tell you that you shouldn’t pursue a particular concentration because the return on your investment won’t be good after almost 2 decades of hearing you should study what you’re passionate about. Clearly, there is a disconnect between primary/secondary education and college.

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