Yes, You Can Do Something with an English Degree!

"Yes, You Can Do Something with an English Degree!" (blog post) | |

Something that drives English majors crazy while they’re going through school is the question “What are you going to do with an English degree?”

At one point, while working through college, I overheard a former supervisor saying, “He’s getting an English degree. You can’t do anything with that!”

And I was happy about the irony when, after graduating, I turned in my notice and mentioned I was going to work at a publishing office. When that very supervisor asked how I got the job, I responded, “I just got my English degree.”

While print publishers are not doing as well as they used to, there are still plenty of opportunities for English majors.

English Majors: Stuck in Stereotypes

There’s a good reason for English majors to hate the idea that there is nothing they can do with their degree—and not just out of defensiveness.

If someone’s a biology or chemistry major, do they actually have the title of “biologist” or “chemist”? They may sometimes, but otherwise, people do make the connection between a biologist and someone getting into the medical field, or between a chemist and someone getting into pharmaceuticals or product development of some kind.

And while everyone has heard of editors, proofreaders and the like, seemingly no one makes the connection between those jobs and people with English degrees. Most of the general public just automatically falls for the stereotype that there is nothing you can do with an English degree.

Just a Few Examples of Jobs for English Majors

There are many webpages with lists of jobs for English majors—many more than most people expect. I can speak the most into editing jobs, but here are three out of many, just to give a few examples.

Content Editing and Publishing Jobs. Publishing offices—whether print or online publishing—need editors of some type. Content is huge these days; and someone needs to edit, strategize and organize that content. Jobs can range from proofreaders (who usually edit for the basics of grammar, punctuation, etc.) to copyeditors (who go beyond grammar and punctuation) to content creators and strategists.

Social Media and Email. There are entire jobs now for people who strategize and post on social media. At first glance, it may seem like these would not have the potential for full-time work, but let’s take email as an example.

For any given email campaign, there needs to be a strategy and scheduling (we’ll talk in part two about why English degrees are well suited for various tasks). After that, the email has to be composed. Once the text and images are in an email format, the email may need to be tweaked for various audiences; many companies likely have various email lists, depending on locations, preferences and email-reading habits of the recipients.

Beyond that, before an email goes out about cosmetics, for example, it’s likely that experts on the product, whether in a marketing department, product development department or otherwise, will need to check and approve that email.

While social media may or may not include all the processes for email, it has other additional tasks beyond the obvious.

Marketing Writing. For those so inclined, marketing writing is another option. This includes typical marketing copy, fundraising materials, direct mail campaigns, ad copy and the like. Some of this is agency-driven, but there are plenty of companies and organizations that need staff with this skill. This is not necessarily “only a freelance job.”

It’s worth mentioning, also, that as with many jobs, the titles for the above positions are not necessarily going to be “marketing writer,” “social media editor,” etc. Even at publishing offices, there are different levels of editors—and different job descriptions for the same title vary across companies. Job titles are just a starting place.

There are many jobs out there for English majors—if you are an English major, don’t let anyone dissuade you because of long-accepted stereotypes in our society. You probably already know that from doing career research; if you’re just starting your research, you will probably be pleasantly surprised at what you find.

And yes, it is possible to get promotions and advance with an English degree. We’ll talk more about that in part two coming up. We’ll also talk about the vital skills English majors possess that make them perfectly suited to certain positions.

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Happy “Tell a Story Day”!

Authors must love “Tell a Story Day,” as it’s the perfect opportunity to use fiction-writing to its fullest.

This holiday falls on the 27th of April, and it can actually pay homage to true accounts as well as fiction, as “story” can be defined as “a narrative, either true or fictitious, in prose or verse” ( It is also defined by the same source as something shorter than a novel, though that seems a bit odd, as a novel is just a long story.

But let’s stop digressing: It’s “Tell a Story Day.” This piece, a paranormal/spiritual fantasy, is a rather long one, but it’s the most recent one on this site. Because this is not “Force People to Read Your Story Day,” a summary is below, and you can decide whether it’s your cup of tea. 🙂


"The Nameless Fair" (short story series by Brenna Pierson)

Paren had searched everywhere for one particular lost soul. He was not in Limbo. He was not earthbound. He seemed lost in every sense of the word.

Being trusted with finding truly lost souls when they are at last ready to move on, she makes her way to The Nameless Fair, a sometimes gruesome carnival housing those who were lost both in life and in death.

Can Paren succeed among the fair vendors selling deep-fried legs and rides like the “Smotherer,” operated by phantoms? Only the support of a fellow spirit guide encourages her as she hunts through a fair filled with lost spirits and apathetic specters at every turn.

{Read “The Nameless Fair“}

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(Art) Experimenting With Various Media

"Experimenting with Various Media" (blog post) | |

One of the funnest things about art is trying out different media. Taking a good drawing class is a great start—and the best drawing classes not only teach you to draw but encourage trying out different things to draw with.

Some examples follow from a couple of great art classes that really inspired us students to experiment and find media that worked for each individual artist.

Graphite Drawing from The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

"Experimenting with Various Media" (blog post) | | authorbrennapierson.wordpress.comThis piece was a final project for a first-semester drawing class. We had to choose a hard subject to draw—something complex—and this scene from the movie fit the bill nicely. It took some time, of course, but the end result worked out well.

Interestingly, the night of final presentations, the teacher asked how I felt about the final. Hearing an answer of “okay,” the instructor then said that it must have turned out really well—that usually, the artist says, “I wanted to do this with it and that with it.” She was right, actually; for once, the final drawing was not cringe-worthy. 🙂 (It does, however, look a bit warped in the photo, because of the angle at which it was photographed.)

"Experimenting with Various Media" (blog post) | | authorbrennapierson.wordpress.comChalk Pastel Piece: Model in Ad

This is a piece done in chalk pastel, which is unfortunately not quite as blendable as some might hope; then again, some people swear by it, so there’s living proof that what works best all depends on the person.

The image was taken from a magazine ad showing a model sitting on a couch with some sort of fashionable purse.

Charcoal and Conte Crayon Drawing: Sheltie

"Experimenting with Various Media" (blog post) | | authorbrennapierson.wordpress.comMy first sheltie was the subject of this drawing, and unfortunately she didn’t receive any justice at the hands of my lack of charcoal skills at the time. Still, charcoal is a beautiful medium. It has been used for ages and has the most amazing look that just draws the eye in.

The only bummer about charcoal is that it smudges so easily that it must be set with an art fixative. If there is plenty of ventilation, that’s fine; but it’s something to be aware of.

Chalk pastel also requires fixative for the long term.

"Experimenting with Various Media" (blog post) | | authorbrennapierson.wordpress.comChalk Pastel Piece: Violin on Top of “Memory” Sheet Music

This was another final piece for a drawing class, this time the more intermediate level.

This piece was done from a photo I took of a miniature violin and lute sitting on top of sheet music (though the lute does not show too much in the final).

At least as of this writing, this piece is shown in the main header.

Ink Drawing: Seashells

"Experimenting with Various Media" (blog post) | | authorbrennapierson.wordpress.comSeashells are popular ink drawings, and it’s easy to see why. Their shape and the patterns on them can really be brought out by ink.

If you are using an ink pot and nib, it can get messy. Just be careful. If using a “regular” pen, this can be avoided, but it lacks the fun and antiquity of using a nib.

"Experimenting with Various Media" (blog post) | | authorbrennapierson.wordpress.comOil Pastel: Collector Barbie

This is the first oil pastel I ever worked on after learning to draw, and a piece like this can get you hooked on a certain medium—not that it’s perfect, but it definitely is one that’s a little more artistic. This Barbie is actually from a group of collectable dolls: the Midnight Tuxedo Barbie from the 90’s.

Another collector doll oil pastel is in the works…to be posted at a later time.

The only bad part about trying out various media is the cost; but if you can do it, it’s totally worth it.

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