English Majors

By:  Rachel Spenser ’19

On Thursday, October 24th, the Salem State English department hosted an “Exploring Careers in Writing” panel. There were five panelists, each in different fields with the same English background; Erin Brenner is the CEO of Right Touch Editing, Jessica Brown is the Documentation Lead at Boston Scientific, Maria DeForge is the Associate Director for Project Management and Business Analysis at Berklee College of Music, Andrew Martone is the Director of Institutional Relationships at Beck and Bode Wealth Management, and Lisa Sugarman is a columnist and author.

Each panelist introduced themselves to the crowd, consisting of students and faculty, and explained why they chose their career path. It is not well-known that there are many jobs for those graduating with an English degree. It is often thought of as a useless path that will not help in finding a job. These panelists explained and demonstrated that that is not the case. Each had a different story, a different way at ending up where they are. Each panelist does have a job, and one that was attained by having a degree in English.

One of the main things that each kept commenting on was communication skills, something they learned in college with their English degrees. Being an English major very often sets people up to be successful in jobs that revolve around people. English majors are often very good at writing and speaking, and therefore good at communicating ideas and thoughts to others. Communication is a big aspect of life. It is important that people can communicate and articulate clearly with customers, clients, bosses, audiences, etc.

One field for English majors is technical writing, which is very different than what I thought. I assumed the writer knew everything they were writing about, not true. Jessica Brown explained that she works with a team of experts that explain the process of what they are doing and what she is writing about and she words it clearly for readers to then follow. She doesn’t have to know anything other than how to make it simple enough for someone who doesn’t know what they are doing.

The panelists answered many questions about their own jobs and why they stuck with the careers they did. One if the biggest and most important things they mentioned was getting on LinkedIn and connecting with as many people as possible. They explained that a lot of getting the job you want or any job in the right field is knowing people. Lisa Sugarman was the biggest advocate for LinkedIn, explaining that it helped her find jobs many times.

Erin Brenner mentioned the importance of thanking the people that are taking the time to help you. Whether it’s just reading an email you sent or talking with and teaching you a new skill that will help later in your career. You need to thank those that are taking the time out of their busy lives to help you better yours.

As an English major graduating at the end of this semester, I was thrilled to learn so much from this panel. I realized that I would be able to find a job after college. I could be a writer for a column, an author of a book, work in finances (which is a common career for those with English degrees), I could be a technical writer, and so many other choices.