The English (Teacher) Major

If the reader here is hoping to be an English teacher, great.

This isn’t for you.

This is for all the kids at family get-togethers that have been given sympathetic looks. The kids who are constantly dreading small talk because their mom’s friend, Martha, inquires about how you’re going to find a job. Also, don’t forget my all time favorite question, “So you’re going to be an English teacher, right?”

No, Susan, I am not.

I’d rather chit chat about anything other than what I’m going to school for. This goes so far that I sometimes avoid asking acquaintances about their major all together. What’s even worse is when the acquaintance tries to cover it up: “Oh I’m terrible at English and I hate reading.”

And they follow up that awful, chalkboard scratching remark, with a horrid cackle because they’re oh-so funny and clever. Who even reads anymore?

Me, I like to read, Shannon.

The first time the major question is asked, it’s not that unbearable; the twenty-seventh time, it gets a little old. It was when I first decided that I was going to be a Liberal Arts major, specifically English. My top job pick is to become an Editor at a publishing house. I always have to specify at a publishing house or say I want to edit books because just saying I want to be an Editor confuses most people. The whole, not wanting to be an English teacher kind of throws them off too.

Now, don’t get me wrong, English teachers are necessary, and I will go toe to toe with anyone who disagrees, but that is not the only viable job option that is worth pursuing with solely an English degree. While it’s not anyone’s fault that the knowledge of jobs for English majors is almost non-existent, it’s not impossible to educate others, along with oneself, about the plethora of occupations other than teaching.

There are so many wonderful English oriented careers out there that even English students don’t realize. Career Fairs are always a great way to start; there you can meet potential employers and peruse the aisles. English majors are fantastic at analyzing information and obviously writing, so don’t be afraid to chat up the employers since they’ll be on the look out for these necessary skills. At Oakland University, there is a Career Service Center that caters to students in every major. This is yet another great way to get informed of opportunities that are out there for English majors. At the Career Service Center they will look over resumes, cover letters, and they can even set up an appointment for a mock interview.

We are English majors. We get to be creative, even in situations where there isn’t an abundance of literature.

A good way to seek out opportunities is at places where there aren’t many English majors in stock. The automotive industry is a great place to start. No one there got into the automotive industry to read or write, so they’re severely lacking in these two necessary skills. Writing up reports, editing grants, even making sure that signage is correct is a job that English majors can look into. English majors bring that imaginative spark that can bring a new perspective to the surrounding stem fields. This is just an example, there are many more such as the medical field, public relations, and the like! There are endless opportunities.

If someone isn’t sure what kind of job they’d like to take part in, internships are one of the best ways to gain insight on a job through hands on experience. Even if you already have a chosen career path, becoming an intern for that career can help make the hard decision to either stay on that career path, or find another occupation for the future.

Catherine O'GormanWhichever job that is picked, English teacher or the other many different possibilities, just be sure that you’re choosing a fulfilling career that makes you happy. Also, let’s all be thankful that we don’t have to work with math anymore, am I right?

– Catherine O’Gorman

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