Question, when it was time for you to choose your major in secondary school – was there an unwritten (dare I say unspoken) common thought that it would be better to be in the Science Stream instead of the Arts?

Our families asked, “what you can do with Art subjects once you’re in the working world?” In school, there was a stereotype that only weak students end up in the Arts Stream.

Sound familiar?

You’re not alone.

I went through it.

My siblings went through it.

My niece’s parents were not too please that she ended up in the Arts Stream after her PT3 (Pentaksiran Tingkatan 3) exam results were out. (She, on the other hand, has been a total rockstar about the whole thing if you were wondering)

Somewhere along the way, the Arts got a bad rep, and while the pursuit of higher education is to better our footing in the job market, it’s crucial to remember that even after you leave secondary school – offbeat majors are not inapplicable. Even if it’s a degree in English, for example your success in the workplace is determined by how you apply yourself and your drive, not the relevancy of your education background.

What Can You Do with an English Degree?

Speaking of English degrees, if you are pursuing one and feel a little nervous about your career prospects – given yourself some credit (you knew enough to land on this article). I’ve scoured the internet (okay, maybe just my usual credible sources) and collected the following list of career opportunities across different industries.

Fast forward to your graduation day. What are you going to do with that shiny new English degree? First, keep in mind that the creativity, writing ability, communication and analytical skills you’ve honed during your English degree have primed you for the changing demands of today’s workplace.

Achievement unlocked, what’s next?

You can end up anywhere you want to.

That’s the beauty of it. Our sources tell us there’s a sense of freedom that comes with getting an English degree. You can go on different career paths and work in different industries. You just need to know where to start. To do that, shift the focus away from your degree – instead, take a good look at the skills you’ve acquired from that degree.

Your skills have skills

As an English degree holder, you have developed a set of transferable skills. According to Stanford University, your skills include an awareness about the power of language, the ability to understand different writing styles, technical analysis and interpretation, the ability to think critically and to analyse. You know how to write creatively as well as critically and you are able to synthesise history.

Careers for English Majors

A natural choice would be teaching, but your degree in English can take you much further. With it, you can teach in schools, colleges, universities, teach English abroad, teach English as a foreign language (TEFL). If you choose to continue in the education sector, you can develop educational materials or go into language training for teachers.

You can use it as a foundation to pursue law, work in human resources, go into banking, accountancy or insurance. With additional training and qualifications, you can work as a translator or interpreter too.

Want more options? Scroll through the list of career options below and start shortlisting the ones that interest you most:

  1. Grant and Proposal Writer: Strong research and analytical skills, able to comb through dense content.
  2. Digital Copywriter: Creating banner ads, social media campaigns, blog posts, research reports, e-books, online strategies, landing pages, website copy, ‘share worthy’ and click-bait posts. Browse through Copywriter vacancies here.
  3. Direct Response Writer: Writing fundraising letters, offers from companies and other mail-based marketing.
  4. Technical Writer: Writing user manuals for consumer products, instruction manuals, other technical documents, B2B content writing.
  5. SEO Content Writer: Excellent research and ability to see large patterns in data, content production that are optimised for the web. Browse through vacancies here.
  6. News Reporter: Research skills, ability to analyse and produce quality work, spot grammar errors and write concisely. understanding of what is newsworthy. Browse through vacancies here.
  7. Journalist: An in-depth understanding the principles of journalism, cultivating credible sources and developing interesting ideas for articles. Browse through vacancies here.
  8. Advertising Copywriter: Writing 30-sec and 1-min commercial scripts, taglines, copy for print ads, generating ideas for product launches. Browse through vacancies here.
  9. Public Relations Executive: Writing news releases, press releases, pitch letters, newsletters, sourcing content to share on social media, writing web copy or brochures. Browse through vacancies here.
  10. Corporate Blogger: Plan content schedules, come up with article and whitepaper ideas, run social media accounts, monitor traffic and feedback, write blog posts.
  11. Sales Executive: Excellent communication skills, analysis, sensitivity and empathy, prepare quotations, find supporting documentation and execute sales campaigns. Browse through vacancies here.
  12. Marketing Executive: Writing press releases, connecting with the press, writing brochures, reports, setting up product launches and more. Browse through vacancies here.
  13. Investor Relations Executive: Create presentations, write earning releases and annual reports.
  14. Non-profit Communications Executive: Press strategies, fundraising, donor retention and enlisting help from volunteers.
  15. Search Engine Marketing Executive: Online advertising, SEO and using web analytics to study user behaviours.
  16. Brand Manager: Overseeing the promotion and development of different brand products. Browse through vacancies here.
  17. Social Media Manager: Engaging customers, run social media accounts, develop strategies. Browse through vacancies here.
  18. Corporate Communications Manager/ Director: Overseeing those who work on newsletters, email campaigns, reports, press releases, articles, web content and other communication-related pieces. A basic understanding of how search engines work is valued. Browse through vacancies here.
  19. Event Planner/Manager: Requires social intelligence, attention to detail, communication and strong creative abilities. Browse through vacancies here.
  20. Editor, Freelance Editor: Identifies valuable content, a keen eye for detail, strong analysis and fact-checking skills, the ability to lead a team. Browse through vacancies here.
  21. Television, Radio and Screenwriter: Writing movie scripts, working in broadcast/radio stations.
  22. Policy Analyst: Gathering and analysing information to help plan and develop and interpret new policies in the gov and industry.
  23. eCommerce Analyst: Figuring out why certain campaigns work or don’t work, requires knowledge of analytic tracking software, an understanding of the principles of online conversion.
  24. Market Research Analyst: Calls for strong written and verbal communication skills, analytical and reasoning skills, the ability to organise, plan and manage time, know how to populate data.

11 Noteworthy English Degree Holders

  1. Actress, activist and model, Emma Watson graduated from Brown University with a bachelor’s degree in English Literature.
  2. Former Avon CEO Andrea Jung was an English literature major at Princeton University.
  3. Actor and filmmaker, James Franco graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) with a bachelor’s degree in English.
  4. Television host Conan O’Brien was a double history and English major at Harvard University.
  5. English actor and film producer, Hugh Grant graduated from New College at Oxford University with a 2.1 bachelor’s degree in English Literature.
  6. Broadcast journalist, television personality and author, Barbara Walters was an English Major at Sarah Lawrence College.
  7. Award-winning film director Steven Spielberg majored in English at California State University.
  8. Singer Sting majored in English at Northern Counties College of Education.
  9. Former Xerox CEO Anne Mulcahy majored in journalism and English at Marymount College.
  10. Former MTV CEO Judy McGrath received an English degree at Cedar Crest College.
  11. Actress and producer, Renée  Zellweger graduated from the University of Texas with a BA in English.

Former Walt Disney CEO, Michael Eisner majored in English and theatre at Denison University. He had this to share with USA Today about his liberal arts education:

“Literature is unbelievably helpful, because no matter what business you are in, you are dealing with interpersonal relationships. It gives you an appreciation of what makes people tick.”

I’ll let you be the judge. In the meantime, check out the jobs listed on Jobstore today!

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