Editorial: Advisement panels encourage critical interest in English

“Much too often, English majors are confronted with the cynical question of: ‘What are you going to do with English’,” said Internship Program Director, Ruth Fairbanks. “But the English major is a valuable commodity.” (Courtesy/UConn English Department)

The University of Connecticut’s Writing Internship Program, The English Department Speaker’s Committee and the Aetna Endowed Chair of Writing recently held a panel designed to show English majors what types of careers they can find with their degree. The panel was made up of four recent graduates who have found a wide variety of jobs. One is a research analyst at Ipsos, another is a client care solutions assistant for AdviceOne, the third is an assistant editor for Roman & Littlefield and the last is a health news reporter and editor for Aetna.

Holding advisement panels such as this one is a significant service that the university can and should provide for its students, especially for majors that are considered to be “less employable.” English especially needs this public awareness of career possibilities because the possibilities are so broad that many of them are overlooked by students considering an English major. As a result, many students are discouraged from majoring in English due to the lack of certainty about what types of jobs they will find after graduation. Fortunately, this panel was able to alleviate some of this uncertainty and prove that there are indeed opportunities for English majors.

The panelists gave valuable advice, such as to apply to everywhere students could think of. They prided the English major in its versatility, which allows students to apply for whatever industry interests them the most due to the fact that every company needs strong writers. They also gave advice about what type of clothing to wear to an interview and how to find the right starting salary, which are both valuable pieces of information for graduating English majors.

This panel, however, could have enormous benefits even outside the English Department. If it is advertised to undecided students, these graduates could help dispel some of the fears that prevent students from pursuing English and therefore increase the size and success of the program. And this effort does not even have to stop at the English department; other humanities majors that have been overlooked and considered “less employable” due to the emerging interest in STEM fields would also benefit from similar advisement panels that could help guide students toward success in the fields they are passionate about.