The Hidden Opportunities of an English Major

letter-447577_1280As spring semester approached, I had feelings of guilt. I knew I didn’t want to go to grad school right away, but I also didn’t want to continue working as a server at Etna Restaurant. Requirements do not make much sense when you’re looking for a job. Everyone wants to hire a young, promising individual in their growing field, but no one wants to hire someone with little to no experience in their field. I was up against the odds; who wants to hire an English major with experience of bussing tables for 5 years? What experience, aside from studying in this field, do I even have? But I looked and researched anyway because I made a promise to myself. This promise is one I have since fulfilled, and that is to be able to walk across the stage, collect my diploma, and move onto change.

As an English major, there are certain questions you never really have the pleasure of figuring out how to answer. I often sit uncomfortably or get sweaty palms when I’m asked what I can do with…that. It sounds absurd to answer “anything” to the general public, but that’s exactly the only word I can muster in my discomfort. Some people believe that pursuing a degree in English means that one is set on teaching. Some people wonder what it is exactly that an English major can do. It’s difficult to hear this repeated so often, by so many different people. What is perhaps even more difficult is taking these questions with a grain of salt, and not becoming discouraged with our choice of study. But I think that English majors can pursue several different career paths. And, well, this is how I feel: that anyone can do anything should they be willing to learn.

I applied for days, straining my eyes with web pages of job searching, and cringing at the word “experience,” and wondering if I met the exception of “…must have a degree in…or a related field.” I began to submit my resume to countless marketing companies offering entry-level positions, and sooner rather than later, I received responses regarding interviews. The good news is that I was offered and accepted a position, but the really, really great news is that they (the company) valued and respected the skills I acquired through years of studying English, even if it had little to nothing to do with marketing.

Learning to articulate your thoughts onto paper or through verbal communication is an invaluable skill. Although I haven’t mastered either, I feel confident knowing that my opinions about what I’m able to do with my English major remain true. And, truth be told, I’m also confident this could be said for several fields in liberal arts. Dedication, communication, tenacity, organization, the list goes on for when you disregard the undercutting provided by stereotypes surrounding your desired field of study. Of course some individuals must have specialized training or have studied a specialized field, but there is truthfully no limit as to where you can reach within or outside of a field.

So, I’d like to raise a toast to your degree—whatever it may be. May your opportunities constantly reflect your talents.

Sylvia-IorioFA15Silvia Iorio is a senior English major. This is her first year working as a Writing Center consultant, and her first tip to writers is to proofread.


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