Why English Majors are Good at Their Jobs, Plus Proof That They Can Move Up

"Why English Majors are Good at Their Jobs, Plus Proof That They Can Move Up" (blog post) | artisticallywriting.com | authorbrennapierson.wordpress.com

In the last post, we looked at just a few jobs suited to people with English degrees, such as content editing and publishing, marketing writing, social media and email work. A lot of people may think it’s all a bunch of bunk—so it’s time to do some debunking.

English degrees involve a lot more than reading or writing all day. Though that’s a large part of it, the larger tie-in is where the mindset, skills and aptitudes of the English major meet the needs of the workforce.

Grammar and punctuation. Let’s get the most obvious skill out of the way—the one that everyone sees as an English major’s only skill set. People believe that the greatest skill of English majors is knowledge of English grammar, punctuation and the like—and they do need that knowledge. Why?

Because it prevents companies from looking stupid.

It’s obvious why editors need good grammar skills, but so do those who choose content. Does a company really want a content manager who accepts submissions or creates content littered with errors?

Even social media posts are more credible when grammatically correct.

Is somebody asking for your money in an email with too many grammatical mistakes? Are you likely to trust the quality of a product if something as simple as a company’s emails continuously have mistakes?

No one is perfect, and there will always be grammatical mistakes in the world; but you get the idea.

Strategizing content. Whether it’s considering what type of infographics to post online or what articles will be running in a publication, editors, marketers and various content staff need to consider one important thing: the audience.

English majors are good at considering the audience: They spend a ton of time in school writing toward a certain slant and reading various works (both other students’ writing and published authors), and thus learn how to look at content from another person’s point of view. Audience engagement is of vital importance—reaching and keeping the right audience (a.k.a. customers and clients) is a hallmark of success.

Reading literature can play a large part in this, also. English majors can take an entire plot, characters, setting and more to see the small details as well as how those details fit together.

Just as a sidenote, if more people had this skill, the strategy of entire lives would change.

English majors are good at considering the audience….Reaching and keeping the right audience (a.k.a. customers and clients) is a hallmark of success.

Writing to persuade. If you’re trying to reach customers, persuasion is obviously key—but it’s also key if you’re writing a business proposal. For non-profits, grant writing (writing proposals to specific companies about how their grant money will be used) takes just as much skills in persuasion as business proposals (and is actually a form of proposal writing).

Jobs for English Majors Vary—Just Like Any Other Major

One time, while driving to work (at a publishing company, by the way), I was changing radio stations and happened upon a talk show. The radio personalities were taking calls in which people complained about their jobs, and one person called in about how her editing job involved mostly comparing and contrasting the same documents, perhaps just in different languages (as she obviously was fluent in more than one language).

When the radio show hosts asked if she had a degree, she unfortunately answered, “An English degree.” And of course, the hosts went on about how useless that was, saying, “Oh yeah, look how far that got you!”

Keep in mind that every company is different—this is true for every job out there. People in just about any major have various skill sets within that field; and different companies will utilize different skills within that discipline. The caller’s experience was much different, for example, than my first editing job.

Moving Up with an English Degree

I was lucky enough that my first job out of college was with a magazine publisher. It was an entry-level job, and I enjoyed the content. With any job relating to content work, handling material that interests you is half the battle.

After nine months, I was able to move to an associate editor position with additional responsibilities. After a few more years, it was the managing editor position, which included planning articles targeted toward our audience, between my own ideas, ideas submitted by freelance authors and questions from readers. After that, I became the editor of a couple of publications. There are other positions for those wanting to move up in the editorial ranks; each company has a different lay of the land for potential career paths. Some will not, qualifying as “dead-end jobs”—but in that case, you just go someplace where the path leads farther.
It’s the same with any job that can be performed at more than one venue.

Some of us with English degrees learn even more skills, which when combined with our English majors, give us a pretty large toolbox; graphic design and web editing are just a couple of examples.

The Last Consideration

Will someone make a lot of money with an English degree? Most people don’t—but they can certainly survive just fine if they don’t have an outrageous lifestyle. People in publishing and content fields tend to agree that they made the conscious decision at one point to choose something they love to do, though it won’t make them rich. People have different priorities, and beyond paying the bills, it’s always an individual decision.

By now, it should be clear that jobs for English majors can be complex and rewarding for the right people—and they’re jobs that may change with the times but aren’t likely to go away any time soon.

This post was both for English majors and naysayers alike—please share!


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Oil Pastel Experiment: Acrylic Underpainting Pros and Cons

"Oil Pastel Experiment: Underpainting Pros and Cons" (blog post) | artisticallywriting.com | authorbrennapierson.wordpress.com

Oil pastel is perfect for those who want something between drawing and painting — something with more of the control of drawing but some of the flexibility in blending available with painting.

Oil pastels on their own can be very striking — but underpainting can help fill in some of those little spots that show underneath. This is the first experiment with underpainting mediums for pastel and trying to find the right one.

Since canvas worked for some previous oil pastel pieces, canvas seemed to make the most sense when working with acrylic painting as the underpainting; a matte varnish was added over the acrylic to make it easier to blend the oil pastels. So that’s what was done here. An earlier “mini experiment” ended up having no varnish over acrylic underpainting, which ended up a bit rough for blending the oil pastels on top.

The subject was a collector Barbie doll from the 1990’s: Renoir Barbie. Dolls make a great subject because they have a face to work with but aren’t as difficult as real people at the same time. For a piece that’s basically just an experiment, that works perfectly. 🙂

Materials used:

  • Acrylic paint: Grumbacher Academy and Winsor & Newton Galeria
  • Liquitex Matte Varnish (over the acrylic underpainting)
  • Sennelier and Faber-Castell Oil Pastels
  • Conte Crayon (for fine details)
"Oil Pastel Experiment: Underpainting Pros and Cons" (blog post) | artisticallywriting.com | authorbrennapierson.wordpress.com
Underpainting in acrylic for 1990’s Renoir Barbie oil pastel. Sorry for the glare!

The underpainting for this piece was done in all gray tones, as the finished product was to be black and white.


The oil pastel blended very smoothly and easily with this method. Not only was it easy to work with, but it also made it easier to scrape off mistakes. Unwanted marks came off pretty well without much left behind.


It was difficult to build up white pastel very well with this method; the same went for any semi-transparent or lighter grays. Any sketch lines also showed easily underneath.

Also, conte crayon, which has worked well in the past for fine details on top of oil pastel (e.g., eyelashes) did not want to stick to the pastel when it was on top of the acrylic underpainting.

The finished piece turned out decently, though.

"Oil Pastel Experiment: Underpainting Pros and Cons" (blog post) | artisticallywriting.com | authorbrennapierson.wordpress.com

So overall, this method may work well if using very faint (or no) sketch lines drawn in beforehand. If bold colors only are used, then the transparency when blending wouldn’t be an issue — but clearly, there’s probably a better method out there.

Stay tuned for another experiment….

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A Good Reason to Write Under a Pen Name


"A Good Reason to Write Under a Pen Name" (blog post) | artisticallywriting.com | authorbrennapierson.wordpress.com

There are a lot of good reasons that a writer may choose to use a pen name (also known as a pseudonym or nom de plume). Reasons vary, from privacy to writing in different genres to wanting to get a new start in the writing world.

There’s also the reason of not wanting to get confused with another writer—especially in my case.

It’s a good idea to find out if any other writers share your name, anyway. You don’t want your work to get mixed up with someone else’s.

That idea is tripled, though, when someone with your name also happens to write erotica.

No, that’s not a joke. There’s another writer who writes under my real name (“writes under” because she chose my real name for her pseudonym), and works in the genre of erotica.

It’s kind of funny, actually. Having done freelance writing (under my real name, since those pieces are also a part of my work portfolio), I feel it’s best to have any fiction published under a pen name, anyway. This situation just makes it all the more necessary. 🙂


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Literary Donuts (in Theory)

Donuts are so important that we have National Donut Day, which is observed the first Friday in June every year. So naturally, we need to explore what types of donuts would be the favorites of some of the most well-known literary characters, should they ever be able to set foot in a modern donut shop.

Count Dracula: Jelly Donuts

With that flowing red jelly goo, raspberry-filled jelly donuts would be at the top of Count Dracula’s donut list.

Orpheus: Greek Donuts

"Literary Donuts (in Theory)" (blog post) | artisticallywriting.com | authorbrennapierson.wordpress.com

Wanting to opt for something a little more “classical,” Orpheus would likely want to prepare some of his own Greek donuts with honey.

Scrooge: Glazed Donuts

"Literary Donuts (in Theory)" (blog post) | artisticallywriting.com | authorbrennapierson.wordpress.com

Something simple yet bearing the sweetness of Christmas would be the perfect donut for Scrooge, leading to his choice of glazed donut.

Frodo: Chocolate-Covered Donuts

"Literary Donuts (in Theory)" (blog post) | artisticallywriting.com | authorbrennapierson.wordpress.com

Rather than donut shop varieties, something like an easy-to-pack chocolate-covered donut would be the pick for this hobbit during his long quest.

Winnie the Pooh: Donuts with Rainbow Sprinkles

"Literary Donuts (in Theory)" (blog post) | artisticallywriting.com | authorbrennapierson.wordpress.com

Oh, what a happy day Winnie the Pooh has when he starts his morning with some rainbow-sprinkled donuts!

King Arthur: Maple Bar

"Literary Donuts (in Theory)" (blog post) | artisticallywriting.com | authorbrennapierson.wordpress.com

The maple of this donut represents the sturdy, down-to-earth nature of the ruler of Camelot, with the ultra sweetness of these donuts reflects its fantasy-like atmosphere.

Dorian Gray: French Cruller

"Literary Donuts (in Theory)" (blog post) | artisticallywriting.com | authorbrennapierson.wordpress.com

Why on earth would someone the likes of Dorian Gray settle for an ordinary donut? It is unthinkable! Only the best, most luxurious of French crullers will do!


And for one of my characters, Archaeologist Anna Purgitt: Crumb Donuts

"Literary Donuts (in Theory)" (blog post) | artisticallywriting.com | authorbrennapierson.wordpress.com

Crumb donuts are simply the best donuts to an archaeologist drawn to withering, “crumbly looking” sites.

Anna Purgitt is featured in the short story, “Revvel’s Tomb.”

Check out other posts in the Literary Food Series.

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