Being an English Major

My name is Kylie, and I am a single mom, aspiring writer and assistant to a corporate law practice group. I attended Richard Bland College of William and Mary in Virginia and graduated with a BA in English at Longwood University in 2011. Currently I am working on a novel, specializing in the fantasy young adult genre. I love to read, write, play video games, travel and find fun new things to do. After going through a rough marriage, I have learned to live with more positivity in my life and not to be afraid to take a chance. Change is constant and things aren’t always as we planned, so the best I advise to myself and others is to embrace it. I firmly believe to follow your dreams and don’t make excuses to stop you.

By: Kylie A. Defibaugh
Now if you are like many I have come across, the first thing people will ask when they find out you are majoring in English is, “Oh so you would like to teach?” This idea goes hand in hand with the common misconception that English is also a “useless” degree. It has been almost two years since I graduated from a university with a Bachelor’s degree in English. While studying, reading, researching, writing and enjoying all those sleepless nights with many cups of coffee to spare, I also held a job and found another almost immediately after I graduated. It so happens neither has a lick to do with teaching. First, I worked for the government for about three years of my college life through a student program. Upon my graduation, I found another job working at a large law firm. I did not find my major a least bit useless while I worked there or with my current occupation. To qualify for either of these jobs I needed to be detailed, organized and efficient, work independently and with a team, keep deadlines and have proper oral and written skills. All of these abilities were encouraged by my study as an English major.
Yes, as an English major you are required to do loads of reading and research on poetry, short-stories and novels. To many this seems like those things don’t apply to the “real” world, but go back and look at the skills required in my job and what an English major must do in order to write a decent argument for a research paper or form coherent ideas. You can’t just sit in class and say, “Well I thought Tom was a bad guy.” If you are thinking about majoring in English or a related degree, then be warned! You will be asked how, why, when and where so many times that you will want to throw your paper in a trash can, set fire to it and then bury the ashes in concrete. However, when you can answer those questions through research and reading, you will be able to produce writings that are credible and creative. You will become a reliable researcher and analyst, giving you the ability to perform many different jobs. As an English major, think of yourself as creating an oral and written presentation every single day.
Those skills you develop and improve in school will follow you right back into the job market. English relates to an abundance of skills in the business world. You have to be able to communicate with people orally and through writing. You are required to convey a particular message to clients and customers in an organized and detailed manner. Most of all you need to present yourself as a credible and reliable source. In order to do that, you must know how to research and support what you say. So the bottom line, if you are thinking about being an English major, don’t let people tell you it is useless or the only thing you can ever do is teach. Defend yourself, discuss how and why English is a vital study for the job world. In the end, a workplace is diverse and everyone brings something of value through their education.

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