Are There Jobs for English Majors?

February 20, 2024 |   5 minute read

Are There Jobs for English Majors?

The job market can be tough for new grads, especially if you went to university to study your passion and not necessarily what would give you the best chances for employment. I graduated from Carleton University with a degree in English literature and got a decent internship right out of school for technical writing. It wasn’t really the work I wanted to be doing, but the pay was better than any of the odd jobs I’d done to make money for school, and I was working with words, which is what I wanted.

Unfortunately, after the internship ended, I wasn’t hired on full-time and the company later went under. After that, the job opportunities were few and far between, and I hopped between small gigs and freelancing. It was pretty tough. Though I knew graduating with an English degree wouldn’t be a cake walk, I didn’t think it would be this hard, either. As I think many people from my generation were realizing, just simply having a bachelor’s degree wasn’t the default guarantee of a good career that it once was. 

Work From Home Jobs on the Horizon

A few years later, I went back to school at Toronto Metropolitan University to study publishing. This felt like a natural progression. I was still learning about books and writing, but this time from a more practical and employable point of view. Around this time, I made another change that many people my age have had to experience: I made the choice to move back in with my parents while going back to school. This time I did my classes online. Though I think there are pros and cons to both in-person classes and remote learning, and I generally prefer sitting in a classroom to sitting in front of a computer, I found the convenience of online university classes very enjoyable. Just after I graduated again, a friend’s partner told me about a job that was hiring all remote workers - the company was entirely online - which was much less common at the time than it is now. 

I had an interview over the phone and found the company’s attitudes refreshing. I had just had an interview with a publishing house for an internship, and when I asked if we could do a video chat interview, the reaction was like they had never even considered the possibility. So the fact that Tangible Words was open to a more modern, accessible approach was really nice. Another selling point was that Tangible Words didn’t consider humanities students lacking in helpful skills, like other companies seemed to feel. As former teachers, the founders of the company recognized the critical thinking and communication skills of humanities programs as assets, not liabilities. Much of my English literature program was spent considering how a text should be interpreted in different ways, and that’s a useful skill in copywriting when you’re trying to write for a specific target audience. It was a natural leap.


Stability During the Pandemic

When 2020 hit with lockdowns all over the world and people scrambling to figure out a way to work from home, I found myself in a lucky position. Work from home jobs were far from usual, but by that point I had already been working for Tangible Words for three years. Adjusting to lockdowns was still unpleasant, but in terms of my daily work routine absolutely nothing had changed. 

Of course, there were challenges. Clients were rightfully concerned about the futures of their companies and were not sure they would be able to go completely online. But overall it was a relief to know that the way Tangible Words operated was, in a way, built for pandemic life. As friends lost jobs, Tangible Words provided stable work-from-home employment when everything else in the world seemed plunged into chaos. 


Making Time for My Real Passionswith camera (brighter)

There’s probably some part of every English literature student that wants to be a writer. I don’t think you could study all those books, essays, and poems if you didn’t at least have a huge amount of respect for writers. 

But being a full-time writer, especially a creative writer, is extremely difficult, in many cases almost impossible. The real strength of Tangible Words is the respect the company has for work-life balance. I have a lot of artistic interests that I want to devote my time to: writing, visual art, videography, music. All kinds of things. Working at Tangible Words gives me the time and flexibility to pursue my other interests while making the money I need to support myself. And that’s a huge deal to me. 


New Opportunities to Use My English Skills

Another unfortunate reality for millennials is the bar for entry to many careers seems to be getting higher and higher. We’re all familiar with the job postings that want five or more years of experience for an entry level job. It’s like that CollegeHumor sketch about the millennial’s riddle: how do you get an entry-level job when you don’t have the required experience but the only way you can get the years of experience is by working an entry-level job? It’s a tricky one, to be sure.

Luckily, while working for Tangible Words I've had the opportunity to explore different skills and passions. For example, in my publishing program, I discovered I had an eye for, and an interest in, graphic design that I had never realized before. In hindsight, it made sense. I’ve always loved comparing book covers, and examining the composition and details on movie posters, and discovering what makes one image pop while another fades into the background. Tangible Words allowed me to try out this newfound interest. 

I had taken courses on the subject, and completed personal graphic design projects, and I have a genuine interest and passion for the subject. But on paper, on a resume, that would be hard to prove to a potential employer. Where else would you get the chance to try out a profession like this?

I’ve also had the good fortune of being able to dip my toes in the world of podcast production with the Company Growth Podcast. Tangible Words has built this podcast from the ground up, originally as a way to help keep our clients grounded during the pandemic. This job has allowed me to try out so many interests of mine that I never would have expected after originally being hired as a copywriter. It’s pretty cool. Along with my six years (and counting) of copywriting experience, it’s great to know I’m learning new skills and trying out different career paths.

So, to answer the question in the title of this blog post, yes -- there are jobs for English literature majors out there. Are those jobs tricky to find? Yes, but definitely possible. 

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