English majors are often viewed as classical literature geeks, constantly immersed in poetry or found dissecting a Shakespearean play on a summer afternoon. However, a degree in English has a lot more prospects than just that.
In today’s rapidly changing world, English majors are quite in demand. They are seen in diverse professional fields such as journalism, teaching, law, publishing, and even fine arts. But what makes this degree so diverse?
Here’s a list of some of the most useful skills you can gain from this apparently “useless” degree.
1. Efficient Communication
An English degree will hone your communication skills to perfection. Constant reading, analyzing, and interpretation of complex texts, scriptures, and articles will eventually polish your communication skills. This degree will teach you the art of articulating thoughts for easy understanding and conveying your ideas eloquently.
Additionally, constantly drafting well-structured arguments for all forms of writing helps refine written and verbal communication skills while teaching you how to communicate effectively in a formal and professional setting.
According to the most recent Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) Corporate Recruiters Survey, communication skills were rated among the top skills employers look for. 69% of recruiters listed strong communication skills as a reason for hiring an employee. In case you do not have a degree in English yet, consider enrolling for a masters in English. A master’s will teach you the art of clean and concise English, how to tailor your language to different audiences, help you engage in persuasive communication, and in turn, make you an asset for whichever industry you decide to go to.
2. Critical and Synthetic Thinking
English majors are experts at reading between the lines. During the entirety of their degree, these students are trained to think critically, analyze complex concepts from multiple perspectives and view every mundane concept in a new light. Literary works studied by English majors often require in-depth analysis and interpretation, and these critical skills can later be applied to real-life scenarios too. The ability to do all this empowers English graduates with the ability to solve problems creatively and make informed decisions.
Critical and synthetic thinking is also a highly sought skill by recruiters when looking for new employees. The ability to approach a problem from various angles, evaluate evidence, and create logical arguments enhances your problem-solving ability, defining you as a strategic thinker within any organization. Additionally, this is also a great quality when working with a diverse/interdisciplinary team.
3. Detail Oriented Mindsets
An English major will often find themselves following trails of breadcrumbs through different literary pieces or obsessing over the smallest details that most people would overlook, potentially leading to an entire Pandora’s box. An English major is an expert at close textual analysis as it is fundamental to studying English literature. These students are skilled at the art of appreciating details. A degree in English encompasses scrutinizing language, symbolism, tones, subtexts, and much more. After all this, graduates develop a keen eye for detail and can employ this skill in any sphere of their life.
Attention to detail ensures quality, accuracy, and increased reliability. Whether that be proofreading legal documents, editing articles, conducting thorough research, or drafting political arguments. A degree in English will come in handy when tackling complex problems requiring precision and meticulousness.
4. Cultural and Global Awareness
As mentioned before, literature is a window to cross-culture exposure and a great way to understand minorities. Empires, tribes, wars, and cultures throughout history have been recorded in literature. By studying works from different periods, eras, and regions, these students are exposed firsthand to the complexities of human experiences. This cultivates a deep understanding and appreciation for historical events and helps them empathize with and understand nations.
With the rapid boost in online organizations and people working from home, cross-culture and religious awareness are very important. By understanding different backgrounds, their pains and struggles over the years, and the nuances of the global market, English graduates are great at adapting and connecting with individuals in multicultural settings.
5. Empathy and Emotional Intelligence
According to The World Economic Forum, emotional intelligence is one of the top skills needed for success in the 21st century. And guess what? English majors are highly skilled in this domain too.
Constantly engaging with diverse characters, understanding their flaws, and dissecting their personalities help these students develop empathy and high emotional intelligence. The study of human emotions, ethical and moral dilemmas, and relationships within literary works develops a deep understanding of human psychology, establishing a sound sense of the human condition.
Organizations are also recognizing the importance of empathetic individuals within their company. An employee with high emotional intelligence can comprehend client needs, relate to colleagues, and build strong and lasting interpersonal relations.
6. Information literacy and Research skills
An English degree is bound to ingrain strong research skills in you. It establishes a strong foundation in research methodologies and information literacy. English majors are skilled at navigating vast libraries, databases, and digital resources in pursuit of reliable information. They are taught how to critically evaluate sources and synthesize knowledge effectively.
In the current digitalized era of information overload, employers are actively seeking out individuals with strong research skills that value information literacy as recruiters now acknowledge the importance of gathering sound evidence to support well-researched arguments for the growth of their organizations.
While a degree in English may have once limited your career options, the current reality could not be far from it. The skills acquired through a degree in English are highly sought after by recruiters and are fit to land you a job in almost any field that you may desire. An English degree will equip you with proficient communication to critical thinking, imaginative problem-solving capabilities, attention to detail, the ability to connect with diverse audiences, empathy, research skills, and a strong understanding of human nature. All these and more are not just highly rated modern workplace skills that will help you land your dream job but will also contribute to your character development and growth.