Comic Belief

My own bloggable spin on life

Now What?

I’ve always known that an English major was not directly associated with a promising career path, usually conjuring the image of the unsuccessful-yet-still-pretentious writer or, on the other end of the spectrum, the assumption of grad school to further the English major to make it more, well, useful. Almost every single time when someone asked me about my major, it would go something like this:

Random Person approaches me and attempts to make small talk about life, which inevitably leads to the question, “So, what’s your major?”

“I’m an English major,” I declare confidently, as I’m sure the connotation of my major must entail the long hours of research and detailed literature analyses which have made me so vastly intelligent.

“Oh,” Random Person replies with a slight raise of the eyebrows, “So you’re going to teach?”

This is the point where I either want to slam my face into my hand in frustration, or slam my hand into the other person’s face for being so presumptuous. After a while I got used to this response, so I say with as much enthusiasm as possible, “No, I actually like to write.”

“Aah,”Random Person says with an unmistakeable look of concern. “So you’re gonna, like, write books or something?”

Feigning as much confidence as possible, I respond, “Well, maybe one day, but I’m realistic enough to know I need a paycheck. I actually want to do editing and publishing in Atlanta or something.”

This is usually where the topic of my major ends, and the only response Random Person can usually muster is a repeated nod of the head and an, “Oooh, OK.”

As much as I try to convey the interesting qualities of pouring over documents and meticulously correcting grammatical errors, Random Person has already mentally condemned me to failure in the writing world, assuming that my only option is to teach. One nurse who I told about my major skipped the formality of questioning my career altogether, saying, “Oh, an English major? What grade are you going to teach?” Not that there’s anything wrong with being a teacher, as my entire family is full of them and they’re all brilliant, but aside from something I’d want to do abroad, I’ve never really been drawn to it. So, having graduated from college with a big fancy BACHELOR’S DEGREE, I assumed that it was time to find a stable editing or writing job in Atlanta with opportunities to interact with important authors and publishers and eventually move my way up to success as an independent young writer in the city.

“Wrong” might be something of an understatement. First of all, there is no such thing as an entry-level writing job. They are a complete myth, ranked with fairies, Bigfoot, and Diet Dr. Pepper, and anyone who says otherwise has either never looked for a job or is playing a cruel joke on you to get your hopes up so that you’ll finish school. It doesn’t help that I get my hopes up like a small child on Christmas Eve, and when I’m let down it’s like reality is slapping me in the face…with my degree. I felt accomplished enough just by completing my resume, and felt even more encouraged as I continued to apply for jobs online. Cover letter after cover letter of my “qualifications” and “experience” really just translated into “I’m desperate and I can write. Please hire me,” but since most of the jobs I’ve applied for require at least 2 years of experience, I’ve had little luck so far. Several times I’ve checked my email and my face has lit up with excitement at the words “Job Opportunity” or “We Reviewed Your Resume,” but upon closer inspection, all of them have been offering me various sales positions. Nothing wrong with sales, of course, but I did not go to college for four years and sign my life away to student loans to have a career in something I don’t care about.

SO, until then I will be writing as much online as possible when I have time. Articles, blogs, whatever it takes to build a portfolio, get my writing out there, and gain as much experience as possible. I may be a starving writer for a while, but at least I’m still a writer.

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269 thoughts on “Now What?

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  1. sqeekchair on said:

    Dear fellow English Bachelor’s degree writer: You have just formally served me a heaping platter of the exact appetizers I am currently not enjoying being seated at the same table as you are. We should have lunch sometime and commiserate.

    Why is it in this country that:
    Housewives, or vacuous spaces made for gnats,” Less Than Zero” set of morals, or literacy, dress like sagging animals, show off their BPD(Border line personality disorders) and get paid for it on reality shows?

    Teaching is a noble profession- I’m not giving up the hole in the wall bars I enjoy patronizing, dressing anyway I want, and having a life without pretentious, over-bearing parents demanding levels of perfection not currently available outside human capacity.

    Entry-Level writing was a myth I painfully accepted before reading your explanation. Thank you. I’d like to see a recent MBA graduate read a fucking poem, or actually know that Jay Gastby is not a major character in the novel, so I don’t know how Leo Decapitated is going to get his method acting done.

  2. I hope you are able to find a writing job.

    I enjoy writing, too, but for now I am doing as a hobby on my blog-msmcword.wordpress.com.

    Thank you for sharing your writing goals with us.

  3. Write everyday and press onward. You will be employed in no time!

  4. I will never again assume an English major will be a teacher. I promise to have the decency to ask what is their passion. : )

  5. I completely feel your frustration. I’m not an English major myself (though I considered it at some point), but Development Studies receives similar responses. It’s meaningful to me, and I have no problem standing my ground and weird comments, but I’m oh-so-afraid of the post college job hunt. I can do all the volunteering/world saving I want, but yea, that does not position me anywhere close to a paycheck… Good luck and I’m looking forward to reading more of your work!

  6. Pingback: Day 168: Let’s Be Honest, I Am Not Writing Just For Me « cherylhuffer

  7. eaTWritESnaPLove on said:

    Hang in there buddy, I know your pains. I am a poli-sci major and I too get a raised eyebrow or two. I wanted to be a journalism major because I enjoy writing. But since the history-and-conflict buff won over my passion for writing, peo

  8. eaTWritESnaPLove on said:

    Hang in there buddy, I know your pains. I am a poli-sci major and I too get a raised eyebrow or two. I wanted to be a journalism major because I enjoy writing. But since the history-and-conflict buff won over my passion for writing, people assume that I am going to be a lawyer. I have done insurance and sales (not in that order) and I say to my friend to stick to your guns and may the bes opportunities come your way!

  9. loveyourlife247 on said:

    This was great! Shared it with my best friend who is an English major too! She’s about to finish up. Check out my latest blog about adventure, it nay be helpful. 🙂 thanks for the good read.

  10. From one English major to another…I FEEL YOUR PAIN!

  11. I admire your confidence and self-assurance. I’d first thought about becoming a writer. Even though I’d wanted to do more fiction than anything else, I knew I’d make the bulk of it all writing textbooks. I don’t mind editing, but it would give me that forbidden urge to attempt publishing my own works, and then having my spirits crushed. I still write, and I’m still young… I have time. Really though, I’d love to take to animation since I’m capable of writing the play-by-play well enough to stand alone on that front.

    Of course, like any other person, I’m procrastinating like no one’s business; I’m not proud, but it’s a fact of life that’s going to be hard to change. I hardly draw but I’m sort of decent. But until I can get a concrete image of my characters aesthetically then I’m stuck with words. Not so bad, eh?

    Back on topic, I’m grateful for this post. It sheds a lot of light on what the writing industry is about when it comes to people such as we.

  12. lolzerzilla on said:

    I would just like to say keep your head up and keep writing. I graduated with a Political Science degree but writing is my real passion, I just haven’t had that much time for it. Seeing as I’m unemployed at the moment I just started recently dedicating a lot of my time to my blog Suicide by Jaguar. Even if it’s rough start I know I’ll improve with time and practice and so will you. By continuing writing you can only build up your reputation, improve your writing and best of all show your passion. I enjoyed this post and I look forward to reading more!

    • sqeekchair on said:

      Wow! I’m not the only OW freak! Have you read, “The Secret Life of Oscar Wilde?” by N. McKenna? Detailed accounts of his private life, it was engaging!

  13. Sarah on said:

    I was a music major… Definitely can relate to those conversations! 🙂 I did end up teaching, but because I truly wanted to. Best of luck to you as you pursue your dreams!

  14. I found this meme online. In light of what I’ve read of your blog so far, and coming from one English major to another, I think you’ll be able to appreciate it.

    http://memegenerator.net/instance/11797865?urlName=Willy-Wonka-Creepy&browsingOrder=Popular&browsingTimeSpan=AllTime

  15. sexytenga on said:

    education is only one part of one’s career path. follow your instincts

  16. Sasquatch is really real – like Santa.
    Great post.

    sincerely,

    former unemployed English Major.

  17. Rejection is an unwelcome jagged little pill we all learn to swallow. And for most writers it results in a steely determination which makes success taste so much sweeter. I did so much free work to get a foot in the door when a student, as I’m sure you have, which is something that speaks volumes about your hunger to write. The fact we’re commenting on this blog now means that you’ve done your duty as a writer by enticing us to read on! Only a matter of time.

  18. Great to see Gene Wilder, really lifted me as I have so many fond memories of his comedy sketches, especially loved him in blazing saddles.

    I just wanted to say that I’ve been out of proper work for years but I’ve never been without, I think half the time that we are our own worst enemies. I am at the moment trying to master the art of contentment because when I get impatient or frustrated, I tend to spend money I don’t have then regret it later. It’s only natural to feel frustrated but if we can control this and stay positive then positive things will happen. I’m currently not sitting around but participate in a photo group that aims to help Alzheimer sufferers, our goal is to trigger their memories with an image from the past that’ll hopefully lead to a conversation or some sort of response. Some of theses old gals and guys have fantastic stories.

    Keep lifting people like me with great memories.

    Kind regards, Jim.

  19. Fellow English major here! I feel as though your words are mine…every damn time I say I have a degree in English, there’s the “Oh, you’re going to be a TEACHER.” I’m quite curious as to how people ignore the idea of writing, editing, etc.

    Anyhow, fellow job-hunting English major/writer in Atlanta…I feel like we should get together and compare notes! Congrats on being Freshly Pressed! And keep writing! 🙂

  20. I wish I had the courage to declare myself an English major. I have always loved English but am now a Communications major at the urging of my parents, who want me to have more career options. They once commented about me wanting to be an English major, saying that I don’t have to be the patience to be a teacher. Shows how much they know about the major!

  21. theravenqueen on said:

    You are me. I recently graduated with a B.a. in English and am having the same difficulties finding a job in the editing/publishing field. I can’t tell you the frustrations I’ve had. Presently I’m working at a pizza joint tossing dough and serving tables of rich snobs. Keep at it. I’m right there with you. Someday, we’ll make it.

  22. I, too, hold an English degree that hasn’t netted me a job since I received it in 1995, but I’m a damn good bartender:) I am a living cliché!

  23. its an awful situation my husband faced similar circumstance , passed everything he needed and more to be told he neeed 2 years experience, he tried everything from begging to taken on for free, yes work for no wages just to get the experience!, to regsitering with charities working voluntary for them all to get that elusive experience, bit by bit it did build up, but the best he found was working for an agency not sure if you have anything similar where you are? here(north of england ) we have alot of employment agencies for everything from being a chambermaid to being a lorry driver and just about most careers in between each job you get with them is on a temporary basis and never lasts longer than six months but it gets the experience you need, maybe you can find something like this where you are? or perhaps follow the other examples my husband did (voluntary work, or work for free perhaps for a magazine or newspaper?i know some of our local newspapers often accept piecework in the form of travel columns or lifestyle maybe you could go round your local newspaers offering to write for free to get experience? while your there you could always make friends with editing staff ^_^ ) hope this helps and really hope you get where you want to go; believe in yourself and follow your nose it could lead to something tasty 🙂

  24. genuinelyunhappy on said:

    Hello there! I’m an English Major too and I can totally relate to what you wrote about. I’m actually an Education – Major in English student and I’ll most likely end up as a high school teacher soon (if I don’t fail any of my subjects. Hehe).

    Anyway, writing is my passion too. Even though I would love to teach in the near future, being a writer is what I really want to be.

    Also, I catch your drift on the “meeting-a-stranger-who-asks-you-about-your-major” part. Unless if that person has a deep and genuine interest for literature, the conversation would end early.

    Don’t lose hope on finding career options, by the way. I’m sure we’ll both find a decent job in the near future. 🙂

  25. Sister, you truly captured how it feels to be an English major and aspiring writer, only to find a severe lack of opportunity after college. I went even further and got my Master’s in creative writing. And you know what? Now I work in higher education, only not as a teacher (I tried that and found consistent reading of bad papers stifled my own creative sensibilities, and basically prevented me from doing any writing of my own). Like you, I’m now blogging in an attempt to build up those inert writing muscles. Feel free to hit me up sometime if you ever want to vent or bounce ideas off each other. You can find me at gnosticbent.wordpress.com. I hope to see you there and wish you all the best in finding your calling. Keep hope alive!

  26. I feel your pain.. I’m sure I’ll be in a similar position soon when I finish my degree. I especially get the ‘do you want to be a teacher’ and me saying ‘uh… I want to write’. Thankfully when I graduate my daughter will be little still, so I’ll be able to look after her whilst struggling to write probably! Zoe x

  27. Shar on said:

    I have an English degree too. I got my first job as a tech writer and I’ve also written for newspapers as well. There are also lots of websites that pay you to write articles, etc. Let me know if you want more info on those. Good luck!

  28. Pingback: In Defense of LIKE « Deliberate Donkey

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