By Trevor Carolan
Job-wise, graduating with a degree in English can feel like driving toward Deadman’s Curve wearing a blindfold. Financial anxiety adds a zest to living, but hopefully not for too long; so having a basic skill-set to demonstrate your capabilities to employers is essential.
At our first class, I always tell my Eng 105 students that it’s probably a boring course, but they’ll come away at the end with some quantifiable vocational skills. Specifically, if you can write a good essay you’ll normally have a chance at finding respectable employment.
Nowadays, every organization needs a writer—someone to get out the newsletter, put out calls and announcements, take care of big email wave-outs, as well as the hard-copy flyers and posters that need organizing. Government agencies, municipal and regional administrations, eco-groups, NGOs, unions, and start-up tech firms—they all need people who can research, file, document, archive, and publicize the work they do. English grads are ideal hires: the process of learning to write and present research papers equips them for communications and clerical work. Presenting class tutorials also gives them basic public speaking skills.
I tell my students to tidy up their final essays, title and print out clean copies in a clear cover. That’s concrete evidence of their specific abilities if asked “What did you learn at UFV?” The glamour work in media, public relations, magazine and technical writing still relies on core English outline, research and report-writing skills. At interviews add a little gratitude, sincerity and good manners.
Still looking? Be a joiner—network through community and professional organizations; and volunteer. Remember, loyalty never goes out of fashion and the world loves a hard worker.
Suddenly you’re a real prospect.