THE NUMBERS ARE IN! According to the second annual College of Liberal Arts & Sciences Report (2015-16), 83% of English majors whose data was collected (a majority coming from the campus-wide online survey) reported securing employment after graduation, while 12 percent reported continuing education, and one percent reported post-undergraduate plans involving volunteer work. According to Kirstin Wilcox, the Director of Internships for the Department of English, eighty-three percent is a considerable increase from last year’s numbers, which reported about fifty-nine percent of English majors landing jobs—a figure relatively consistent across students in LAS.
As Kirstin points out, with eighty-three percent of English majors obtaining employment after graduation, the report confirms what the Department of English has known all along: English majors get jobs—interesting ones, to boot. While the average starting salary for English majors, according to the 2015-16 report, is $36,161—a number on par with the average starting salary for students in the Biological Sciences, at $36,718—this lower number tends to result as a side effect of students seeking jobs in competitive but rewarding fields, including the arts, the entertainment industry, and the nonprofit sector. These fields are either highly competitive, tend to require long apprenticeships, or, in the case of nonprofits, are working with tight budgets and, as a result, offer lower salaries to entry-level employees. Often, especially with Creative Writing majors, students will take jobs with lower pay but still afford the time and mental space necessary to sustaining a productive creative practice. Alternatively, and in many cases, English majors spend a few years floundering, testing the waters in different industries with both a spirit of exploration and pragmatic investment in order to find out what sort of positions are actually a good match for their personal interests and professional skill sets.
Similarly, graduated students who majored in English tend to spend a few years working in paraprofessional positions before pursuing graduate study—a potential reason only twelve percent of our majors immediately selected this route. Since Masters and PhD programs involve a hefty time and economic investment, students often seek to gain firsthand experience in their fields of interest (especially those for which higher-level positions might require continued education) before taking on the commitment to earn an advanced degree.
One of the department’s major goals is to help students reduce the amount of time they spend testing out their options after graduation by offering as many opportunities as possible to students while they pursue their undergraduate degree. In many cases, post-graduation floundering will be inevitable; one never knows when a change might be needed or when the perfect opportunity might surface. However, by helping students find internships throughout their undergraduate career, connecting students to the Alumni Mentoring Network, and hosting career talks within the department, the Departments of English and Creative Writing strive to help students not only eliminate the (needless!) fear of joblessness but also land a job they love. English and Creative Writing majors go on to do all sorts of interesting things—surprising things! Our alumni keep confiming this.
by Ana V. Fleming, MCD intern
If you are a current student and wish to learn more about the types of jobs available to English and Creative Writing majors, please feel free to contact Kirstin at firstname.lastname@example.org, or make an appointment through the English Advising Office.