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The trials and tribulations of MA English

26th September 2011
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I wish I wanted to be a dentist or a teacher. When you study a specific subject, you are on a clear cut route to your trade. You know what you’re going to do when you leave university. Study dentistry, become a dentist. Study teaching, become a teacher. Study English, become a...uh...what do you become?

That is the question that I am faced now in my last year of my undergraduate degree. I have put it off long enough and now it is time to decide. What do I want to be when I grow up? I am told continuously that English is a broad enough subject to be relevant to many career paths, but what one of these jobs do I want? And is English too broad to be taken into consideration when applicants for Marketing or Media jobs have better, more specific degrees?

As far as I can gather, all my English degree has granted me is ‘outstanding communication and research skills’ or so my CV tells prospective employers. In my first two years, I was convinced that I was going to work in media and be a producer in film or television. This is a clear cut path that, although difficult to get on, is possible to attain. Then, after realising that many people in media work freelance, I began thinking that this job would more than likely not provide the stability and security that I need in a career.

I then worked at this years Fringe festival and decided that I would quite like to work in Events Management or PR. Great! A good deal more graduate jobs to choose from as well as being easier to gain experience whilst still at university. I then realised there are such people as Events Management and Marketing graduates that I will be competing with for these jobs. Once again the broadness of and English degree goes against my favour.wall street journal

Of course there is always the option of becoming an English Teacher or Journalist, the more obvious career choices for English graduates. Perhaps this is what I will turn to. An English Teacher provides great holidays, competitive pay and the stability that I so crave. Of course there are teenagers involved, and that inclusion is a dealbreaker to me.

I am left with one option:Journalism. Although this again presents the possible problem of having to become freelance, I have decided that Journalism or Publishing is an area that I am interested in and will dedicate the following year in attempting to get my foot in the door of these careers.

The problem I faced in my decision of what to do is my realistic expectations, or perhaps just my laziness. I know that there are great jobs out there for me and for all English graduates, but the thought of competing for those jobs with minimum relevant experience creates a sense of dread in my stomach. My advice for all English students that don’t know what they want to do after University is to go with the flow. Try things out and if you don’t like them, move onto something else. Try to realise that you are actually in a great position having such a broad degree. Employers will love your ‘communication and research skills’ and at least you’ll never have the worry of being stuck in dentistry for the rest of your life!




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