“So you want to teach?”: Non-Teaching Careers for English Majors

Careers for English MajorsFor many, summer vacation is a time for family. And, as with most family gatherings, the conversation is bound to eventually land on the inevitable question: “What are you going to do with that degree?” As a Communications major, I was asked this question more times than I can count. The truth is, I had no idea what I wanted to do, or could do, with my degree.

There’s the obvious: teaching, publishing, public relations. Knowing teaching was not for me, I tried to pursue the other two. No luck. I found these careers immensely saturated with candidates much more qualified and the opportunities few and far between. Then one day I was given some of the best advice I have ever received.

Make a list. Figure out what you like about the positions you’ve wanted and make a list.

I was told to jot down key words or key phrases from job descriptions I’ve applied to. So I did:

By doing this little exercise, I now had a better idea of what I wanted to do. It wasn’t a position title. It was a concept. These key words helped me to identify so many other positions I had never thought of before or even knew existed.

Now came the second part: was I qualified? After all, an English/Communications degree seems so straight forward.

Wrong. These majors teach critical thinking, communication, and analytical and problem-solving skills. The truth is, you can do anything with these degrees. I’m not suggesting that neurosurgery is the ideal job for an English major, at least not without advanced education, but I am saying there is life outside academia and retail. CEOs, politicians, lawyers, celebrities, Nobel Laureates—the list goes on for people who graduated with a degree in English.

Eventually my search for the right job led me to my current role as a recruiter. Every day I am able to help recent college graduates find careers that, like myself, they had never thought of before. This is because of the focus on transferable skills. I love seeing an English, Communications, or other Liberal Arts degree on a resume because it comes with a long set of skills transferable to the business environment. The challenge comes in keeping an open mind. Everyone wants to be in the “fun” industries like media, sports, or entertainment but entry-level positions in those fields are difficult to find. Garnering professional experience in other areas can allow you to take on responsibilities you want, and could later help you stand out for those “fun” industry positions.

I recently helped an English major land a job as a project manager with a Fortune 500 company. She never saw herself working for an electrical distribution company. It’s not super appealing and after all, she did not have any experience in the industry. But the position required someone who could build relationships, manage deadlines, make decisions, solve problems, and utilize strong communication skills. She loves the position and is excited to learn more about a stable industry, and now can see herself building a successful career using the skills she always wanted to use.

So, if you are trying to figure out where to take your degree, here are three bits of advice:

  1. Make a list of what you want.
  2. Make a list of what you can do (transferable skills).
  3. Be creative when considering employment possibilities.

The next time you find yourself at a family gathering and you are asked the question, “What are you going to do with that degree?” You can answer, “Anything I want to.”


Jessica HellerJessica Heller
Alumni Representative, 2016-2018
Account Specialist at Avenica, Inc.

How to Graduate with Sigma Tau Delta Swag

Ahh, graduation. It’s hard to believe we survived late-night study sessions, coffee-induced comas, and library all-nighters. Our reward: the sweet satisfaction of finally saying goodbye to it all while waving hello to the future. Why not separate yourself with some Sigma Tau Delta swag from the sea of other similarly-attired graduates?

As members of the esteemed International English Honor Society, with over 898 active chapters within the United States and abroad, you have been recognized as distinguished individuals, and distinguished individuals deserve distinguished attire.

Sigma Tau Delta Swag

Sigma Tau Delta features an English Honor Store website where members can buy tote bags, hoodies, and more. With graduation right around the corner for many of us, I have highlighted some of the graduation regalia available.

Honor Stole

The cardinal red honor stole comes decked out with an embroidered black Sigma Tau Delta seal. The satin stole is 60″ long, a standout against dark colored graduation gowns.

Honor Cords

Double doesn’t always mean trouble. In this case, the red and black double strand honor cords elegantly display your accomplishments.

Medallion

A personal favorite of mine, the medallion features antique brass and a perfect replica of the Sincerity, Truth, and Design logo. It’s pretty fancy.

Membership Pin

If you need to replace your pin, Sigma Tau Delta’s store has plenty! Grab one and pin it to your cap or gown for a little extra bling.

Logo Sticker

Okay, okay. I know what you’re thinking: how do I wear a sticker without looking silly? Answer: make a stunning collage of all your different accomplishments (Sigma Tau Delta being one of those) and either stick, glue (if you dare!), or tape them onto your cap.

Window Decals

This one is here as an added bonus. Just because you graduated, doesn’t mean you’re no longer a Sigma Tau Delta member. Once a Sigma, always a Sigma. Sigma Tau Delta members are members for life, becoming alumni members when they are no longer students. Alumni members may also join the Alumni Epsilon Chapter for more involvement.

Stick one of these window decals to your car or laptop to display your lifetime membership.

Graduation is an important milestone so display all your accomplishments and successes proudly with Sigma Tau Delta regalia. Order today to ensure you receive your regalia by graduation!

Additional Graduation Resources

Which Sigma Tau Delta regalia piece will you wear for graduation? Let us know in the comments!


Samantha Santana
Alpha Alpha Upsilon Chapter
University of North Carolina Wilmington, Wilmington, NC

Hey, You! Graduate Student! Do You Want Some Scholarship Money?

Scholarship Cat NapAh, graduate school—that magical time in your life when you devote so much of yourself to scholarship that rather than sleeping in your bed you tend to fall asleep on your keyboard instead (if, of course, your cat doesn’t get to the keyboard first). If, like me, you are a graduate student, you are probably very tired. I can empathize! Whether you’re at the beginning of your graduate school journey, nearing the end of it, or somewhere in the middle, your to-do list for this week is probably overwhelming. Technically you don’t even have time to read this blog post (but please do so anyway!). The last thing you need right now is another task added to your plate.

Stop right there and take a deep breath. I know finding the time is difficult, but I’m going to tell you right now that carving out a couple of hours to apply for a Sigma Tau Delta Graduate Scholarship is worth it. Here’s why:

1. You Deserve It!

You work very hard as a graduate student and you deserve to be rewarded for your hard work! Scholarships like this one allow you to show off who you are and what you have accomplished in your graduate school career; winning an award means a committee saw your work and believed your future work was worth funding—and it is! If you don’t apply, you don’t have the chance to show them that.

2. It Won’t Take as Much Time as You Think

Applying for scholarships may feel daunting, but it doesn’t have to be daunting. You are a graduate student; you’ve written essays before, and because you love English as much as the rest of us you probably know how to write a really good one by now! Spend an evening crafting your essay and your personal statement. I know you don’t want to skip out on taking your evening nap (again), but you’ll survive without one nap. Skipping that one nap can be worth up to $4,000. That’s worth the trade-off.

3. If You Don’t Win a Graduate Scholarship, You Can Still Receive a Regents’ Scholarship

Graduate Scholarship MoneyDid you know that even if you don’t win a Graduate Scholarship, you still have a chance at a Regents’ Scholarship? According to the scholarship guidelines, “The highest scoring full-time status scholarship applicant in each region who does not receive another scholarship is automatically considered for a Regents’ Scholarship.” These awards are smaller than the Graduate Scholarship awards, but wouldn’t you still like to have $1,000? I know I would!

4. No Sigma Tau Delta Chapter? No Problem!

It’s a blow to any active Sigma Tau Delta member to arrive at your new graduate program only to learn your university doesn’t have an active Sigma Tau Delta chapter. If your graduate institution doesn’t have a chapter but you were a member of the Society at your undergraduate school you are still eligible for an Alumni Epsilon scholarship! You must be an Alumni Epsilon member in good standing at the time of your application and if you are awarded this scholarship you could receive up to $2,500! And why haven’t you gotten the ball rolling yet on starting a charter for your new school?

5. More Scholarship Money = Less Time Spent Paying Off Loans

You’ve been in school for quite some time now. Unless you’re really lucky, you’ve more than likely taken out loans at some point in your career to help pay for your tuition. Depending on how quickly you find a job after graduation, what kind of job you get, what your living situation is, and other factors that impact your financial situation, it can take quite a long time just to pay off a few thousand dollars. If you won up to $4,000, though, that could take months or even years off of the amount of time you spend paying off loans. A few hours of your time for that much extra peace of mind? Yes, please!Graduate Scholarship

6. Worst-Case Scenario, You’ve Only Lost a Few Hours of Your Time

Part of the reason you’re probably hesitant to apply for scholarships is because you don’t feel you have a great chance of winning. It’s true that not everyone will win a scholarship. The thing is, though, if you don’t apply, then you definitely won’t win a scholarship. Toss your hat in the ring! Any chance is better than no chance!

As a graduate student, you have a lot on your plate. I know you’re tired, but this is a chance you can take that can truly pay out in the end. And then, once you’re done with your application, you can still take that nap of your dreams. Why not give it a try?

Resources

Scholarship Eligibility Criteria
Graduate Scholarship
Alumni Epsilon Scholarship
Scholarship Application
Application Essay Prompt

Sigma Tau Delta’s Featured Graduate Programs

Department of English at Northern Illinois University
Master of Arts in English at Fort Hayes State University
Master of Arts in English at Azusa Pacific University
Hudson Strode Program in Renaissance Studies at The University of Alabama
Master of Arts in English at The University of North Carolina Wilmington
Department of English at The University of Kentucky
Master of Liberal Arts / Master of Teaching Writing at Auburn University at Montgomery
Master of Arts in English at Western Illinois University
Master of Arts in English at University of Southern Indiana2017 Sigma Tau Delta Convention Sponsors


Amber M. Rose
Student Representative, Far Western Region, 2016-2017
Alpha Nu Beta Chapter
University of Washington, Seattle, WA