How does an English major prepare me for a career?
Some prospective majors and their parents ask, “Wouldn’t it be better to train for a specific job? Or to choose a major that is more practical?”
From our alumni we hear the opposite: deep appreciation for the way the major has helped them develop into the people they are and for the ways it has built a strong foundation for their current careers.
English is one of the most comprehensive and integrating majors in the college curriculum. It has a dual emphasis—the mastery of written English and the study of English, American, and World Literature and the integration of both with issues of faith.
Literature explores what it means to be human, invites us to confront large human questions, and helps us to make sense of the world in which we live. It does not just tell us about the human condition but recreates the very quality of life and encourages us to see and clarify experience through other perspectives. All great writing not only stretches us in this way, but also it touches us where we live, nurtures our spirits, and invites us to see experience through the lens of our faith.
Writing fosters a wide range of abilities that are indispensable in any sphere of life—critical thinking, shaping ideas, using words precisely, adapting to a specific audience, developing creativity and imagination.
An English major prepares you for many potential professions, not just one. A recent survey of alumni shows that English majors are working in almost every conceivable field, including Law, Medicine, Ministry, Publishing, Library, Social Work,Counseling, Technology, Nursing, Business, Non-Profit, and Art.
- Mark Noll ‘68, Professor of History, Notre Dame University
- Linda Peterson ’69, Professor of English, Yale University
- John Augustine ‘79, Managing Director, Barclays Capital
- Randall D. Jahns ‘84, Senior Vice President, Bible Ministry Relations, Crossway Publishing
- Chip Pollard ‘85, President, John Brown University
- Philip Ryken ‘88, President, Wheaton College
- Jennifer Cate ’93, Executive Director, Hands Along the Nile
- David Congdon ‘04, Academic Editor, InterVarsity Press
Beyond developing career-focused skills, the English major at Wheaton College also opens opportunities for internships and work experiences while studying.
An English major imparts marketable skills, but more importantly, it helps to produce gifted people. Its benefits do not end when a person leaves the office but are equally evident at home, in the community, and at church. It heightens our perception of the world, enlarges our human sympathies, and allows us to understand our own experiences better. The study of English equips a person for life.
The English major develops important lifelong—and marketable—abilities such as:
- Interpersonal Skills—the ability to understand different kinds of people, different cultures, different situations and to help us understand our relationships to others
- Analytic and Synthetic Skills—the ability to see and describe pattern, order, form, beauty, and purpose
- Critical Thinking—the ability to see multiple dimensions of a problem or situation and to propose and evaluate solutions; the ability to live with complexity
- Communication Skills—the ability to use language precisely and effectively; sensitivity to audience
So, here's some practical advice on career planning while you are here at Wheaton:
- Visit the Center for Vocation and Career (CVC) early in your time at Wheaton College.
- Realize that 6-8 months is the national average for finding a job; start looking well before graduation.
- Explore a wide range of career opportunities; your English major doesn’t limit you as much as give you great flexibility.
- Consider doing an internship while at Wheaton to explore possible careers
- Connect with Wheaton grads currently working in your field of interest.
Manager of Public Policy, Birmingham Business Alliance
“Although working in a political context seems like a sharp departure from my internships in publishing, late night television, and live music, my current employers didn’t see it that way. They recognized my diverse resume and found a few investment-worthy qualities. What was the common denominator? The skillset of a Wheaton College English major.”