English and Communications Degree: Careers, Grad School, and Finding Your Path

career3

Figuring out your career path when you have a degree that doesn’t lead to a specific job can be tough. People who study subjects like English, history, philosophy, or general maths and sciences like biology or chemistry are often assumed by others to have limited jobs available to them.

It’s certainly not as straightforward as studying engineering, nursing, education, medicine, law, social work, mental health, or accounting. Degrees that lead to a specific career path take out the guesswork of having to choose a career after graduation. Having a more broad degree still has it’s advantages, however, because you don’t have to feel stuck in one career path.

For creative types, this can be a good thing, because we can get restless, curious, and bored if we feel restricted to one path. I know, this all sounds fine and dandy until you’re left with an empty wallet, no sense of direction, a “useless” degree, and an overwhelming pile of debt. But the truth is, the old mantra they used to tell us in elementary school is true, knowledge really IS power.

All degrees open up doors to more careers and more opportunities. The challenge of carving out a career path when your degree doesn’t lead to a specific job is exactly that, a challenge. Are you up for it? I think you are! Even people who have degrees in accounting or engineering should know that their degree opens MANY doors, not just the one path. Anyone can want a career change in their life at any time, so the truth is, what you study, in many cases, doesn’t matter. Many people end up pursuing careers not related to what they studied.

If you have a degree in English, Communications, or any other liberal arts subject, don’t believe there are no careers out there for you. There are several. Does that mean it will be easy to get started? Not at all. You have to choose a path that’s right for you, and then you have to build your resume up with relevant experience if you don’t already have it. Volunteering for a local nonprofit is probably the best way to do it.

Internships can be good, too, but sometimes you need experience for those, too. Choosing a nonprofit and volunteering with them for at least a year is a great way to gain experience. Try to volunteer doing something related to the career you want. If you don’t know what you want to do, try out a few things within the organization. If you can do this before you graduate, even better.

Building a career is a marathon, not a sprint. Take your time, try things, fail, and fail again. It means you’re one step closer to success. If you’re still trying to figure out your career, your not alone. I’m in the same boat, but I know we can do it 🙂 Here are some careers to consider if you have a degree in English or Communications:

Journalist for newspapers, magazines, or blogs

Editorial Assistant

Publicity Assistant

Junior Copywriter

Senior Copywriter

Grant Writer

Fundraiser

Technical Writer

Accounting Clerk

Social Media Manager

Event Planner

Public Relations Specialist

Marketing Assistant

Marketing Manager

Account Executive

Assistant Manager

General Manager

Human Resources Assistant

Administrative Assistant

Medical Receptionist

Executive Assistant

English/Literacy Teacher

ESL/TESOL Instructor

Tour Guide

Art Gallery Associate

These are some of the careers you can consider if you have a degree in English or communications. For some, you may need to learn new skills or get a new certification, but if it’s something you really want to do, it’s more than worth it. You can also consider these subjects for grad school:

English

Creative Writing

Library Science

Media Studies

Education

Literacy and Language

Public Relations

Advertising

The truth is, you can study anything in grad school. Don’t have the prerequisites you need? Go back to community college and take them. That’s not to say that it’s easy, or that taking on more debt or spending more money is a casual decision. But it’s important to realize that you are not limited by your degree. There is nothing wrong with studying something you love. In my opinion, it’s what you should do every time. Follow your bliss.

Building a career is not easy. Having options is great, but you do need to choose a path and you do need to gain experience. The path to gaining experience, interning, or volunteering may seem long, but look at it this way. The time you spend volunteering and learning from experience, is not much different from the time someone else is spending in grad school, med school, or law school. Things take time, and that is okay.

Stay strong and believe in yourself. You have options, you have a future, and you have opportunities. Get out there and find them. I’ll be doing the same. ❤

 

 

Need some motivation for your New Year’s resolutions? Check out my article in Global Glam :)

Sometimes a little motivation goes a long way to get us back on track. The important thing is to remember that you’re never alone in pursuing your dreams.

Some things I’m focusing on are writing, keeping in touch with friends, and drinking water. How about you? I hope this year brings many good things your way ❤ Check out my article here:

http://www.globalglam.com/time-to-rethink-your-new-years-resolution-10-tips-to-keep-up-your-goals/

Lonely Suburbs

The suburbs are painstakingly lonely when you’re not in school anymore. There’s not much to do and finding a sense of community is nearly impossible. Most things you’d do to meet people aren’t very accessible, whether it’s trying to find a place a volunteer (that’s mostly been a dead end for me), going to events (there’s only so many you can go to), or the most laughable of all, trying to find a local job. It seems all I can really do is count down the days until I can afford to leave. I’m fine with the fact that building a career takes time. But if I’d known I would feel this stuck, I would have gotten more work experience when I was still in college. I’d certainly be further along by now. The only benefit to having alone time is that I can get plenty of writing done.

Career Reflections

I think the myth of the overnight success leads a lot of people to feel depressed. There’s this idea that we should have our ideal jobs right after we graduate college, but that’s just not the reality for most people. And that sucks, doesn’t it? We work so hard in school, and somehow four years of studying, writing essays, taking exams, and having a meltdown (or twenty) gets deduced to one small piece of our resume. We get lost in a sea of people who have qualifications and skills that are similar to ours.

Humanities grads are often made to feel like they chose the wrong area of study, and that they’ll never get a good job. People will judge us and say we’ll never get a job outside of retail or food service. The thing is, lots of people start there careers working in a minimum wage job. Is it ideal, especially when you have student loans to pay off? Of course not, but just because a person starts small, it doesn’t mean that’s where they will be for the rest of their lives.

It’s like people think your first job after you graduate will be what you do forever. We know this isn’t true, but if your path isn’t neat and predictable, people think you have no path at all. I’m sure it’s hard for some people who study accounting or nursing to understand people who don’t have a degree that leads to a specific career, and if someone in a STEM field judges humanities majors, it’s probably more a reflection on them than it is on the people who studied English or History.

Choosing a major that leads to a specific job may work for some people, but I know people who studied accounting, computer science, or medicine, only to realize later that they didn’t enjoy the work. Not only that, but that the career wasn’t a good match for their personality to the point that they were unhappy everyday, then quit. I know education grads who have spent months trying to find a proper teaching job.

None of these people are failures, even though others may see their paths as hopeless. Maybe they feel that way themselves. The problem is that the most important aspect of a career is never taught to us: these things take time.

For some people, having their ideal career means going to university for ten years. For others, it might mean being a bartender or a sales associate for a couple years while they gain experience interning or volunteering in what they really want. This path may not be cool or shiny and sparkly from the outside, but it sure as hell is realistic. Sometimes building a career requires a shit ton of grunt work.

Some of the most successful people I admire are those who spent up to seven years waiting tables, bartending, or working in banks before they were able to run their own businesses full time. Some people start small and work their way up in a company, then continue their education when they get a better feel for the work they want to do. I know some people who worked in retail for a long time, and then got promoted until they worked their way up to being a manager.

For some people, a specific degree is needed for a specific job. And that works for some people. But for me, education is about enrichment. Most jobs I apply for don’t really care what you studied. But they do care about your skills, and even more about your work experience. So, I’m doing what I can to gain experience. It’s not a shiny, sparkly overnight success. It will take time, and I’m okay with that.

 

 

Open Door

Sometimes a door is opened

The lock is broken, it waits for you

But you’re just not sure if you

Want to go through it. So you

.

Stay still. Hoping that an answer

Will fall to you the way snow falls

From the sky. Blessing you with a

Blanket of confidence. But that

.

Doesn’t happen. Instead, you breathe

You look at the door and wonder, what

Will happen if I go through? What will

Happen if I don’t? Where else would I go?

.

You make your choice and explore what

Is beyond the door, the way Lucy goes

Through the wardrobe to Narnia. Perhaps

Finding something great, or terrible, or both.

.

#poetry

How to Pursue Your Passion as an Adult

If you feel something that you were passionate about only needed to be part of your life for a season, then this article is probably not for you.

When we’re kids, we’re often asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” No answer to this question is too ridiculous and no dream is too big. If a child says she wants to be a singer or an astronaut or an Olympian or a chef, then many teachers and parents will tell her that she can do anything she sets her mind to. The sky is the limit and the future holds endless possibilities. If a girl says she wants to be a princess or a boy wants to be a knight (or vice versa, everyone’s different), their creativity and imagination may also be encouraged.

And that’s a great thing! Nothing prepares you for the future like learning at an early age to have good self-esteem and to believe in your own potential. However, as we get older, and especially when we graduate from high school and go to college, there is a major shift in the way people respond to our dreams and aspirations. When we’re enrolled in university, we’re asked on a regular basis what we plan to do when we graduate. People frown or try to fix us if we can’t offer them a set plan for our own futures. Our aspirations to be novelists, directors, Olympians or TV show hosts go from being encouraged to being stomped on. People look at us and are consumed with an interest in exactly how we are going to make a living.

Many students graduate from college and are thrown into a job market they’ve never been properly prepared for. They’re stressed out, have to pay off student loans, and are plagued with the idea that if they don’t have a huge plan, they don’t have a future. They build relationships, maybe they have kids, and they fall into the idea that “a job is a job.” They do work that they might not enjoy all that much because it pays. After a while, they fall into a routine and in the process, they leave a lot of their dreams behind.

There’s nothing wrong with having a job to pay the bills. And there’s certainly nothing wrong with taking good care of yourself and your family! But for many of us, we let go of our other aspirations because we get busy, and we forget, and the things that used to matter to us don’t feel important anymore. And that’s totally okay, too. A lot times we go through phases in life. Sometimes we enjoy doing something for weeks, months, or even years, and then we outgrow it like an old pair of shoes. They brought us to some interesting places, but after a while we couldn’t wear them anymore, and that’s completely fine.

If you feel something that you were passionate about only needed to be part of your life for a season, then this article is probably not for you. But if you had a dream, and occasionally tell yourself, “someday, I’ll make this happen,” but then never start, you might enjoy these tips. Here’s how to pursue your passion as an adult:

1.Connect with your inner child. Chances are, when you were a kid, you probably felt the future held endless possibilities. If you have a dream, you probably really believed you could achieve it! When someone asked, “what do you want to be when you grow up?” the question felt exciting and you were confident in your answer (even if it changed every two days). The point is, you probably believed you could do anything. The thing about being an adult is that we don’t have as many people in our lives encouraging us to do the impossible. If you need support, there’s always someone you can turn to. Maybe it’s a family member, maybe it’s an online friend (wink, wink). But the beautiful thing is that we can find that encouragement and love within ourselves. If you met your younger self, you’d tell them to believe in themselves. Now tell that to the grown up you!

2.Choose one thing and stick to it. Whether it’s photography, baking, travel, writing, literature, science, volleyball…whatever it is you want to pursue, choose one thing and do it well. Trust me, I get it. When you enjoy doing so many things, it can be hard to choose just one. You can balance more than one passion, but if you want to see some real progress in something (especially something you haven’t done in a while), choosing one thing will make it feel less overwhelming.

3.Your want + someone else’s need. If you’re a photographer, offer to take pictures at peoples’ weddings. Offer to draw caricatures at peoples’ parties. Bake cupcakes for birthday parties, coach sports at a community center, volunteer to be a personal trainer, tutor kids in a subject you love at an afterschool program, or tutor adults in literacy. By thinking of how your want meets someone else’s need, you pursue your passion, help others, and who knows? It could even turn into profit. If you just want to pursue your thing for you, that’s also fine.

4.Create a brand. I know, we hear that all the time that we should “create a personal brand.” What does that even mean?? In this case, it could be helpful to create a brand around your passion. Like “Bob’s Caricatures” or “Amy’s Wedding Photography.” I’m not saying you should start an all-out business, but creating a brand for yourself can give you something to build on. [side note: I may be totally off-base with the concept of branding or how it’s used, but I think you understand what I’m trying to say].

5.Hire yourself. After you create your brand, hire yourself! Give yourself a tip jar, and every time you develop new photos, write a short story, repair an old book, or catch some waves on your surf board, leave a penny, a dollar, (or for extra fun, a piece of candy), in the jar. This will be a great motivator and it will also help you track your progress.

6.Create a schedule. I know a lot of people say that you should pursue something each day if you want to get good at it, but I personally don’t think you need that level of commitment. If you commit to doing something once a week, or even once a month, you will see progress. Go at your own pace. This is your journey and no one else’s.

7.Keep a journal. Every time you pursue your passion, write a short entry in a log. This is another useful way to track progress.

8.Do it, even if you don’t feel like it that day. There will be days where you don’t feel like doing something, even if you enjoy it. Sit down and do it anyway. Your future self will thank you.

9.But still, if it isn’t fun, don’t do it. Maybe the thing you once enjoyed is no longer fun, especially if you are trying to stick to a schedule. That’s okay! You can always do something else. Or not, it’s up to youJ

10.It’s okay to have a day job. It’s totally okay if your day job is not your dream career! That’s fine and it does not make you a sellout. You can pay your bills and do what you love on the side.

*Bonus tip:Bloom where you are planted. I think people often think their dreams have to be larger than life. But the truth is, you can make your dreams a reality right where you are. Want to be an actor? Start a YouTube channel. And have “movie nights” where you invite friends over to watch you. Maybe you want to see your art up in galleries. Why not start by creating an art show in your own home for your friends, complete with wine and cheese? (also, no flash photography please). Maybe you want to see your books on the shelves of Barnes and Noble, but in the meantime, self-publish a manuscript and invite your loved ones to a party where you read excerpts from your work. You have to start somewhere. Start where you are.

.

#articles, thoughts

 

 

 

 

Not feeling great

Not feeling great at the moment. I have a lot of life decisions to make. I always want to put as much thought into my decisions as possible, but that also stresses me out a lot and can cause me not to act either way. I want to have a good life. It all seems so complicated. Choosing one thing tends to mean saying no to another, and it’s hard to let go. I get lost and lonely, and no one really gets what I’m going through. I’m trying to focus on one thing at a time, but that can still be hard. I just want things to work out.

Right now I just want to have a good job. I have my bachelor’s, but I’m thinking of taking classes at community college so I can specialize in something and gain more skills. It could connect me with a community of people and could help me define my path. I could also pursue a job I’m already qualified for, but it wouldn’t give me the same sense of stability. If I go to school, I’ll have to get financial aid and work part time so I can afford it. Not that the cost of community college will add much to the pile of debt I already have.

There’s so many things I want to do. I always feel like a bunch of things are pulling for my attention at once. But I know I have to focus, at least for a little while, to make any real progress. I keep getting overwhelmed and lonely and depressed. Everything feels hard.