Imagine my delight when I happened upon this Medium article today: “How I Went from English Major to Serial Software CEO.”
There’s probably something to be explored around the number of English majors who end up in tech, or maybe just where English majors end up in general. Is there a college major that gets less respect? If there is, I’d like to know about it. Seriously, please let me know if you can think of one. I’ll wait!
I’m sure it was a relief to my parents when I decided not to study theater; I’m not sure it was such a relief to learn I’d chosen English instead. Unlike “marketing” or “nursing” it’s not something that immediately calls to mind a profession. And it’s for that reason that so many people would wrinkle up their noses and say “What are you gonna do with that?” (The other reaction was a knowing nod and the pronouncement “Oh. You’re gonna be a teacher,” as if that is some kind of horrible disappointment?)
I chose English simply because I could do things I enjoy: reading, writing, and talking about books and authors. And yes, some of my fellow students pursued teaching careers. But others went to law school or entered the clergy or ended up doing things that had very little to do with 19th century British poets or Shakespeare. Myself among them.
The answer to “But what can you do with a degree in English?” is simply… anything. Anything at all! English majors are well read, erudite, and highly observant. They’re good listeners and efficient researchers. They know what word you are looking for, even when you can’t think of it! And they typically know how to make anyone else’s words sound just a little bit better, because they’re often talented editors as well.
In short, hire an English major! (They’re also pretty good at Jeopardy! All those poetry and quotation categories.)