English - From Classroom to Career
After discussing internship options freshman and sophomore years, talk to the English internship coordinator and map out when you will do the two internships for credit that are allowed at Fairfield. Remember that summer jobs, not for credit, can be just as useful in gaining experience and building a resume.
Intern! Intern! Intern! Fairfield has valuable connections and a great proximity to a variety of employers that should be taken advantage of by students. In a classroom, it's difficult to teach time management, mastering relationships with supervisors and co-workers, and rising to employer expectations. One of the best ways to prepare for the job world while at Fairfield is to not only jump right in, but to analyze and share experiences with intern programs. Anything to boost a resume with work experience and build a list of references is a good thing. - Ali (Bart) Lieberman '08, Politics/ English; Account Specialist at SoundExchange
Every spring, the English Department honors students who produce outstanding academic work in critical analysis essays, fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and journalism during the past year. Gain experience in entering such a competition and learn how to effectively package and present your work-and yourself. Non-seniors are often singled out for their great work.
A great way for writers to showcase their work is to enter the English Department Awards or try for other awards on campus. When you write something, you want it to be read or heard, and this is a way to accomplish this and build your resume. - Kerry Davies '11, English/Theatre (VPA); Playwright in Residence of the Falcon Repertory Company, Inc.
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 corecourses fit best with your career goals? Work them into your schedule. Be prepared for your advising meeting.
What is your "dream job" after graduation? How can you use your time at Fairfield to prepare for it through classes, internships, volunteer activities, summer jobs, leadership positions with clubs and organizations, and other relevant out-of-class experiences?
I don't think students realize how important tailoring co-curricular activities (lectures, study abroad, internships, etc.) actually is to your chosen career path. It all adds up. - Jenn Lance '12, English; freelance writer and editor
Talk to favorite professors about possible supervised research projects you might do in your area of interest, in the summer or during the school year. On-campus summer housing can be available.
You may even be able to use the product (paper) from that research later on in your career or simply as a writing sample. I did an independent study with Dr. (Peter) Bayers my senior year and it was a great experience. I was particularly interested in women's issues and American Literature, so we crafted an individualized course based on that (Pioneer Women on the Frontier). However, not all teachers have the time to do supervised research. If you have any interest, talk to your professor early-on. - Liz Holman, English '12; student, Quinnipiac University School of Law
Other Graduation Options
Talk to English professors about possible graduate school work options, scholarships like a Fulbright Fellowship, and Teach for America.
I had always planned on going to law school after graduation and chose to major in both English and Politics. Fairfield's English curriculum prepared me well for my intern experiences during law school (I have clerked for two judges) because I was taught to read a piece of literature and develop an argument, so to speak, after analyzing the material. -Lauren Solari '10, English/Politics major; student, Case Western Reserve University School of Law
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.
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.
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 with at least three of them each semester so they can speak about your successes in an informed way.
Consider keeping papers and assignments in a folder on your computer that highlight your successes. Make sure you mark which professor you wrote them for, so you can provide the professor with material to give you a good reference. Employers like specific references because they create greater trust that they are making a good hire. - Michael Curran '09, English; teaches English at a prep school in Massachusetts.
Final Career Choices
How can you best use your courses and free electives to round out your education and prepare for a career? Talk to your faculty advisor and favorite professors; is there room for another minor? Consider taking acourse in business writing or grant writing in the English Department. Consider courses in Marketing to better understand the business world and how to market and brand yourself. Consider taking additional foreign language courses; don't automatically stop after the core requirement is met. English majors love the study of language; don't limit it to just English. We live (and work) in a complex global world. This is a key factor for career preparation.
I found that having a variety (of academic interests) within reason was very helpful while I was applying to jobs. Interviewers often commented on my additional History minor positively. It did give me an edge over the competition. However, you do want your resume to be focused. There should be a clear focus on your resume established by past work experiences and academic classes, majors, and minors. Having too wide a variety can often make an applicant seem unsure. I removed some unnecessary tidbits that were not related to the job I was applying for; I also had two or three versions of my resume showcasing different achievements depending on the type of work I was applying for. - Emily Bosson '11, English major with minors in Secondary Education and History; teacher, New Milford (CT) High School
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 Master of Fine Arts program 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.
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.