English - From Classroom to Career Sophomore Year
What is your "dream job" after graduation? How can you try out such a career while at Fairfield? We have six concentrations, and there are on-campus options that allow you to try out various careers associated with them. Interested in journalism? Write for The Mirror. English education? Work at The Writing Center as a tutor. 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.
Yes yes yes. I wish I had thought more about this as a sophomore.
- Jenn Lance '12, English; freelance editor
Sometimes students need to be forced to take advantage of opportunities. I wish I was required to see more Open Visions lectures, because those that I did attend were excellent. I was exposed to an intellectual world extending far beyond the campus. In many instances, the issues of our country and our world were being addressed just down the road from my dorm at the Quick Center, and I was a better student for having attended these lectures.
-Michael Curran '09, English; teaches English at a prep school in Massachusetts.
Attend the English Department's Internship Information Session. Think about "trying out" a career, gaining work experience, marketable skills, potential mentors and a competitive edge. Look for potential matches between an internship with your anticipated career.
It's never too early to begin looking for job experience. During the second semester of my sophomore year, I began looking for places to work during the summer. I found an internship at the Hartford Courant and having that on my resume so early in my college career helped me find other internships and eventually get my job at the Connecticut Post. Many students think they have to wait for junior or senior year to have an internship, but I think you can never get enough experience, especially in a tough job market... With help from my advisor, and from other professors, I was able to find job opportunities and internships, but a lot of the search process I had to work on alone.
- Tom Cleary '10, English; Co-Managing Editor, Torrington Register-Citizen
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. After attending the English Department Majors Night, talk to professors and students about how to get the most out of the major.
I was fortunate enough to get to know many of my English professors on a personal level and still keep in touch with them even after I've graduated. While I did utilize my advisor, and would strongly encourage students to do so, I sought (and still often seek) advice from these professors. They were always more than willing to give advice or to simply talk. Specifically, they were an immense help during my law school application process... I have found that many students are intimidated by their professors: don't be. It's important that you learn how to interact with adults, not just your fellow students. But still, remember to respect your professors.
- Liz Holman '12, English; student, Quinnipiac University School of Law
Use your English Department faculty advisor and peer advising to choose the best courses, given your academic interests and career goals. Be prepared for your advising meetings each semester. Talk to them about their research interests.
I found that developing good relationships with my professors opened up many doors for me - not only did I have the benefit of additional guidance, I continue to have strong relationships with many of the faculty and they continue to be a valuable resource for me in post-graduation life. Also, when it comes time for reference letters, a professor who knows you beyond your GPA and performance in class is guaranteed to write a letter of reference that can speak to your achievements and strengths in an exceptionally informed way. Faculty members who only know you in the classroom and on paper cannot provide as effective a reference letter. A strong reference letter can often be a deciding factor for potential employers.
- Emily Bosson '11 English; teacher at New Milford (Ct.) High School.
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 English majors are doing during their junior/senior years. You may be surprised!
Package Yourself Professionally
Start building a LinkedIn.com profile, one of the most popular ways to find jobs and internships for college students. Establishing a professional profile page and networking with both peers and working professionals will significantly enhance the chance to have a flying start in the professional world after graduation.
Line Up References
You will need professors who are willing to serve as professional references when you apply for internships, jobs or graduate school. Professors and internship advisors make excellent references. Begin looking now for professors who know you and would be willing to vouch for you. Discuss your future plans with them and ask for advice and guidance. Stay in touch withat least three of them each semester so they can speak about your successes in an informed way.
It's definitely critical to establish relationships with both professors (who are familiar with your writing ability) and employers (who can testify as to your work ethic). So many jobs and grad school applications require letters of recommendation as well as a list of references. I would also recommend keeping in touch with former employers that you intern for, and building a LinkedIn Profile that they can view. Usually they're more than happy to serve as a reference in the future.
- Lauren Solari '10, English/Politics major; student, Case Western Reserve University School of Law
Life After Fairfield
English majors find a wide range of occupations and pursuits where they can use their knowledge and skills. Some 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.
Service Learning Associates
The Service Learning Associates (SLA) program engages 8 to 10 undergraduates each semester as student leaders to their peers in service-learning courses. Each Associate works intensively with one professor to support a service-learning course which aligns with the Associate's academic background and interests. The Associates meet regularly with both faculty and fellow Associates throughout the semester and attend professional development training.
I do service learning because I believe that there is more to learning than being inside a classroom, and for as much as I can give, there's even more that I can learn.
- Daryll Fay '13, English and Philosophy
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.