Panel highlights what students can do with an English degree

“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)

“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)

A panel of University of Connecticut English program graduates focused on various topics that pertained to finding a job with an English degree from what to wear to the interview, to finding a desired starting salary and even dealing with the daunting question of “why English?” Wednesday.

“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.”

The panel, co-sponsored by the Aetna Endowed Chair of Writing and the English Department Speaker’s Committee, was put on by The Writing Internship Program and was made up of four UConn grads with English degrees.

Among the alum were Karelyn Kuczenski, class of 2016, who is working as a research analyst at Ipsos in Norwalk, Connecticut, Rachel Crane, class of 2017, who is working as a client care solutions assistant for AdviceOne in Glastonbury, Connecticut, Mary Malley, class of 2016, who is working as an assistant editor for Roman & Littlefield in New York, New York and Eric Vo, class of 2013, who is working as a health news reporter/editor for Aetna in Hartford, Connecticut.

“It’s a good reminder I don’t have to go down a conventional path,” said first semester English major Greta Schmitz, who attended the panel for a better understanding of English majors in the work force.

Kuczenski recalled a moment when a friend’s dad asked what her major was and responded by saying, “so English is your second language?”

However, this negativity towards her major did not deter her passion. Kuczenski recalled her encounters with classmates majoring in engineering.

“All of my friends were engineers,” Kuczenski said, “And they understood what they were learning, but they couldn’t find the words to tell me.”

Even with the odds seemingly stacked against them, all of the UConn alum on the panel found successful jobs that they could not speak of more highly.

All of these grads, with varying occupations, all shared one common piece of advice for English students preparing for the inevitable job search: apply everywhere.

“Everyone needs someone to write for them,” said Crane.“If you like makeup, look at jobs with your favorite makeup brand. Do what you like. Just don’t limit yourself.”

English majors who attended found this firsthand information helpful.

“Having people so successful talking about all of the different opportunities is really beneficial. So now I can tell people about how great my major is,” said Schmitz. “It served as a great inspiration.”


Lillian Whittaker is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at lillian.whittaker@uconn.edu.