[Is it taking shape yet? You're getting all your info from one source, so you'll end up simply re-createing what they have. Your role is to survey, select the really good stuff for the readers you want to talk to. Get rid of all references to "everyone" and "everywhere" and address a micro-audience: an audience of one. That will help you find stuff, select it, and annotate it for that micro-audience. draft by Thursday, ok? mcm

I'm not really drawing from only one source. I just linked all the jobs to the corresponding payscale.com page so I don't have to address pay scales directly in the exposition. The links I have listed at the bottom, are what I am drawing from so far. -mb

English Majors in the "Real World": A Survival Guide


In about three months from now, college students will be wrapping up their academic careers for good. Papers will be hastily written and turned in, books will be sold, discarded, or possibly burned, and gowns with be purchased. By graduation day, the most prudent students will have, at least, scoped out the job market that they will be inevitably entering, some may even have jobs already lined up.

For many this is a matter of everything in it's right place. The business major will look for entry level management positions, the math education major will apply for elementary, middle, and high school teaching jobs, the yin will meet yang and all will be harmonious in the world.

But you're an English major.

You are a true believer. You followed a path that began with learning the alphabet in kindergarten. And over the years as that path has narrowed, you have trudged on until now, when through the brush you find the edge of a cliff, rather than the base of the mountain you expected. It is a point of crisis. Graduating into one of the worst economic environments in history, you find yourself, for all of your hard work and money spent, with nothing to go on.

You have immersed yourself in what you love, never once thinking that your passion could be stifled by a lack of jobs or the apathy of the "real world." Why would you? You succeeded in a system that found English important enough to require everyone to take it every year of primary and secondary school.

And now, there you are, standing on that cliff ledge thinking Now what? The obvious answer, of course, is teaching. But this is not necessarily the goal of every English major, nor is it a feasible with every degree. Teaching K-12 often requires a specific degree or program that deals with pedagogy and methodology, rather than simply focusing on content. Most students who select this degree, do so with the explicit intention of teaching primary or secondary education and like our math teacher above, don't likely need any career advice--so in other words, English education majors, this is were you get off.

But the teaching option is not dead. There is still the option of grad school and teaching at the college level (I'll get to that later on), and there are still some more temporary options like substitute teaching, Teach For America, or teaching English abroad.

The reason I mention these options is because, if you are considering teaching, and you have never done it before, every path you take--whether it be more education or licensing classes--is going to cost money, money that you are going to have to spend without knowing whether or not you actually like teaching.

Ok, so maybe teaching's not your thing? That's fine. You have other options that are, to be honest, relatively abundant, which I will go into in a minute. But first, lets take a look at You.

You're probably wondering how the heck you made it all the way through 4 (5) years of college, only to be spit out the other side with no more of an idea what you want to do with you life than you did during your freshman orientation. What you hopefully
learned in college, however--other than what you were directly taught, of course--is a little more about yourself: What you eventually want out of life, even if there seems to be no clear path leading you to it; what you care about or believe in; and what are the things you can accept and the things you absolutely cannot--in other words, your limits.

These will help you set your priorities, and allow you to make compromises. You are going to have to make compromises. If you're life's goal is to become a great novelist, you are going to have to write a lot of crap that you don't care about first.

Think of your job search like the writing process. In writing, we are always trying to solve a problem. If there is no apparent problem to solve, you create one by beginning the writing process, which is ultimately how you solve the problem in the end. This cyclical pattern of problem creating, problem solving, is applicable to finding work and, if you're lucky, finding your life's work. When you enter the job market, you are, like writing, both the creator and solution of the problem. What is the problem? You don't know what to do with your life. Good. How are you going to solve it? You probably can't because it's too big of a problem. Start smaller. What do I do in the short run?

Your English degree grants you a particular set of skills. Use those to find a job you find palatable and enter the work force from there. By gaining experience in areas that you are interested in will allow to move past your degree, which employers will become increasingly indifferent toward, the more experience you have in the field.

Writing
No one can deny that communication is changing, or rather has changed. But writers are still a vital component, though the technology has changed. All companies or institutions that need to communicate with customers, clients, or the general public need writers. There are plenty of
I still need to finish up these job descriptions, but other wise I consider everything else done.

Editing

Critical Thinking

Graduate School
I cannot knock grad school. Not after going through it myself and knowing what a wonderful experience it can be. Personally, it was well worth the debt, and I feel that I am better off for it. But, this is not always the case. As you know, college is expensive and grad school is even more expensive. And if you already have four years of undergraduate debt and you couple that with another 2-3 years worth of grad school debt, you can find yourself in tight spot.

The key is to get a GA (Graduate Assistant, that is) position that not only pays you a yearly stipend, but also grants some sort of tuition waver. This will make grad school much more affordable and will also allow you to try out teaching, which will help you decide whether or not you want to pursue a Ph.D. Thomas H. Benton's article for The Chronicle of Higher Education offers a disparaging argument against pursuing grad school, which I think is one fair to include here, if only to balance out my own optimism on the subject.

Becoming a tenure track professor, or at least attempting to, is shooting the proverbial moon in academia. Blame it on the economy, blame it on old teachers not retiring, blame it on our increasingly high stakes model of capitalism that has sent everyone who isn't out for blood retreating into academia, blame it on Nixon, whatever you want, but the truth is the Ivory Tower is full (See Benton). But if it's your dream to be a college professor, polish up those term papers and your thesis and get publishing. Also, you may need to do some butt-kissing, hitting up your favorite teachers for letters of recommendation.

There are a few major things you should keep in mind during your job search: To find a job with an English degree, you need to be creative and able to adapt your skills and you expectations to the actual job market that you find as you leave your academic safety blanket behind you.

Also See
10 Careers to Consider with an English Degree
Best Paying Jobs for English Majors
What Can I Do With This Major?
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