As a college senior graduating in May with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English, I have frequently been asked by skeptical family members, friends and complete strangers, “So what are you going to do with that degree? Teach?” Their eyes betray their fear that I’ll struggle to make any professional career out of the skills that hours of reading, writing and analyzing have taught me. These fears are shared by others too—professionals and the general public. Even Forbes has listed English as one of the 10 Worst College Majors, which breaks my literature-loving heart.
But I am not alone in believing they’re wrong. There are careers where critical researching, writing, revising and analyzing expertise can be showcased. Content creation and marketing utilize an English major’s skills through a mix of creative storytelling and social media engagement. All it takes is a little experience to move from academia into the professional world.
Work for the XP, not just the gold
Translation: Put in the work and time to gain some experience regardless of compensation. I started writing for The Geekiary during the summer of 2014, gaining familiarity with WordPress and using social media platforms to promote my articles. Integrating relevant visuals into my content and adjusting diction from academic language to conversational tone took practice. This position forced me to find time to write and taught me to tailor my writing for a specific audience while matching the general style of the blog. By forcing me to adapt, it took my academic and creative writing abilities a step closer to the professional level. I was creating and marketing content without even realizing it. The combination of imaginative storytelling with informative and relevant information mirrored my desire to combine creativity with business. The experience I gained from The Geekiary was far more valuable to me than compensation, because it enabled me to develop my abilities and take the next step professionally.
Develop thick skin
Another valuable (although somewhat painful) lesson I learned from The Geekiary was taking criticism online and responding appropriately to it. People interact with content differently online than they do in a creative writing workshop class. Classmates, instructors and coworkers are honest, but usually considerate in their critiques. However, highly opinionated users on social media sites often have strong and varied opinions to voice. It can’t be taken personally as a reflection on the creator’s character. Being diplomatic and respectful in these situations can be vexing, but content creators and marketers need to consistently respond in a timely and tactful manner to comments, whether the remarks are constructive or negative.
Swallow your pride
I discovered that individuals are defensive of their intellectual property. It is important to be confident, but beware of pride; don’t assume you always get it right. This is an ongoing process of finding balance, but creative writing classes and The Geekiary provided me with a foundation. Willingness to listen and discern the value of criticism will maintain balance between self-confidence and conceit. This applies to content creation and marketing because there is usually something to learn from the feedback on your posts (even if it’s buried in harsh criticism) that can improve the quality of future content. Working in a field that changes with technology and culture, content marketers must constantly pursue progress to stay relevant and effective.
Hopefully, I’ve demonstrated that an English major’s abilities can be put to use in content creation and marketing without sacrificing creativity, and practical experience can make this transition from classroom to workspace smoother. So when you encounter one of the dying breed of English majors, don’t raise your eyebrow and ask if he or she wants to be a teacher. Instead, offer a word of encouragement about how their creative talents are useful even in the business world.
Charlotte Stapp – Marketing Intern