English majors receive advice on real-world jobs

English majors at the University received real-world advice from an alumus and author about making the transition from college to career. On Wednesday afternoon, Dr. Robert Prescott delivered a presentation to over 35 people called “Hiring Humanists: Strategies for Cooperation Between Humanities Departments and Career Services.”

“To choose the English major is to embrace uncertainty,” Prescott said. “The humanities do not directly train you for one specific job. They are giving you a skill set and then you have to determine out of all of that forest which tree you’re going to climb.”

According to statistics from the U.S. Department of Education, Prescott said 64 percent of English graduates work in business, 10 percent work in the government and 27 percent work in education, with less than 1 percent holding Ph.D.’s.

He gave an analysis of a carnival game with a rubber duck floating in a pond. Prescott, who received a Ph.D. in English from the University, told his audience that they can only choose one duck, just like they can only choose one career path out of the numerous opportunities that are available for English majors.

According to Prescott, an English major teaches students analytical, oral communication, interpersonal, writing, research and computer skills. These skills help students grow as people and citizens by giving them the ability to project themselves into a situation, state opinions and argue and build empathy and collegiality.

Ashley Perl, sophomore in LAS, discovered the opportunity to listen to Prescott’s presentation through the LAS Chalk newsletter. As an English major, she said she desires to potentially teach and said that the presentation was inspiring.

“Him talking about embracing confusion and embracing uncertainty and not knowing what you’re going to do really made me more comfortable because he gave us examples of different things other people have done,” Perl said. “Through seeing their success, I can start working up to my own.”

Prescott listed famous people who were successful with their English major. He mentioned Johnny Carson, who received an English degree in 1949 from the University of Nebraska. Jill Barad, the CEO of Mattel, who is the maker of Barbie, earned her bachelor’s degree in English from Queens College in 1973. In 1985-87, Vin Diesel majored in English at Hunter College as well. Prescott said English majors can become lawyers, sports figures, journalists, talk show hosts, actors and much more.

Nicole Moore, freshman in LAS, said she wants to be a writer, and hopes to fulfill that dream by majoring in English. She said that Prescott was encouraging by helping her see the opportunities that come with majoring in English.

“There is such a variety of people that are English majors and with what they do, there is so much diversity in the major,” Moore said.

Prescott encouraged students to start with the Career Center. He said to find opportunities through networking, analyzing job ads, preparing for each career fair and learning to navigate search engines in order to find fulfilling, meaningful careers and prepare for life after graduation.