English - From Classroom to Career Freshman Year
English Department Majors Night
The department holds meetings for majors every semester for you to discuss options and talk to alumni who have used their English degree in a wide variety of fields. Talk to faculty members - early! - about concentrations and department activities that match your interests, as well as your academic and career goals.
One of the best things I did during my four years in Fairfield was beginning to plan for my career during my freshman year. When I came to Fairfield, I initially wasn't sure what my major would be. My advisor was in the Communications department, but I quickly realized that wasn't the major I wanted, so I met with her and changed my major to English, with a focus in journalism. I knew that I wanted to work in journalism after college, specifically at a newspaper, and I began reaching for that goal starting right away.
- Tom Cleary, English '10; Co-Managing Editor, Torrington (CT) Register-Citizen
Overall, I think this is a terrific idea. I think students tend to assume that starting to legitimately plan for their future career as early as freshman year is overzealous. But if I had known then what I know now, I would have been starting this process at freshman orientation.
- Jenn Lance '12, English; freelance writer and editor
Use your academic advisor, your favorite professor, and the peer advising program to explore potential minors, programs and courses, given your interest and goals. What core courses fit best with your career goals? Work them into your schedule. Be prepared for your advising meeting.
Students should talk to their professors about the careers that may evolve from a major in English. Even as freshmen, students are often interested in certain jobs, so making sure that they can see where they are heading is important. I initially considered writing for newspapers, broadcast journalism, teaching, a political career, etc. All I knew, for sure, was that reading and writing appealed to me, so it would have been beneficial to spend time discerning my future. It is not crucial for students to know what they want to do with the rest of their lives when they step on campus, but they should recognize that a Fairfield student is expected to be thinking about it. The beauty of the Jesuit tradition is the constant challenge to think, to use one's talents, and then to make the world better. The English department's focus on critical thinking, in my opinion, allows it to be at the forefront of accomplishing these goals.
-Michael Curran '09, English; teaches English at a prep school in Massachusetts.
Life After Fairfield
English majors find a wide range of occupations and pursuits where they can use their knowledge and skills. Some recent graduates have gone into careers at:
- Publishing houses, such as St. Martin's Press and Random House
- Newspapers such as The Connecticut Post
- Magazines such as Redbook and Rolling Stone
- Plus marketing companies, libraries, public relations agencies, and offices of public officials
Some students have completed the minor in secondary education and qualified for teaching jobs in public and private schools around the northeast. A few have combined their writing skills and an interest in science to work as technical writers. Business firms seek out English majors for their analytic and communication skills.
Still other English majors at Fairfield go to prestigious law schools or study English and related subjects at graduate schools, including the MFA in Creative Writing at Fairfield. Those seeking further education in the last few years have been accepted at such institutions as Boston College, Columbia University, Fordham University, Northwestern University, Sarah Lawrence College.
Talk to your academic advisor and other English faculty about which of our six concentrations - Literature and Cultural Studies, Creative Writing, Journalism, Professional Writing, English Education, and English Studies - would best prepare you for one of these graduate programs or careers.
What To Do With An English Degree?
Conduct your own web search on the topic and look at such sites as Career Rookie. Also, meet with the English Department's internship director to ask about what internships current
The English Major gives you flexibility to adapt to changing work environments. Look for opportunities in class to develop your ability to write, analyze, and argue, then gain experience by pairing these skills with on-campus activities, internships and other pre-professional opportunities.
I think that for younger students, the list of things to do freshman year might be overwhelming - although it's important to start early to see what they enjoy.
-Mary Kate McCormick '12, English; executive assistant at Lucky Magainze in New York
What is your "dream job" after graduation? What are you passionate about? Talk to your faculty advisor, What are you passionate about? Talk to your faculty advisor, favorite professors, other mentors, and Career Planning. As an English Major, how can you use your remaining time at Fairfield to prepare for it through class work, internships, volunteer activities, summer jobs, leadership positions with clubs and organizations, and other relevant out of class experiences.
Pick a few "dream jobs" and research who holds those positions. Where did they go to school? Where did they work prior? Did they get any advanced degrees? What other aspects of their life helped propel them into that role? Knowing what others did to get where you eventually want to be is invaluable knowledge.
- Ali (Bart) Lieberman '08, Politics/English; Account Specialist at SoundExchange
Start collecting materials you put in a portfolio to market yourself and help show your experience. Create a blog or e-portfolio to both present the work (newspaper stories, poetry, well-crafted essays, videos) and to offer reflections on them. Contact CAS Associate Dean Aaron Perkus for help in creating an e-portfolio.
That's just the start. Take a look at this career information from other University offices that we think is also valuable to English majors.