People are often skeptical about the career value of a degree in English or philosophy. While the students in these disciplines are pursuing a passion, studying something that is personally edifying, and growing in knowledge and wisdom, they lack a vision for the real marketability of their skills and the real career possibilities their degree opens up to them. This article hopes to suggest to the contrary: here are five career paths that these majors are gifted to pursue. Not the only five, but five prevalent ones - we don't don't have space here to talk about computer science, real estate, psychology, non-profit work, various political offices, human resources, clerical work, and beyond. So, here's a start: five career paths for philosophers and English linguaphiles, with suggestions for motivations, skills, and intermediate steps on the way to a flourishing career. With internships being a critical way to further your understanding of whether a career path is a good fit for you, suggested internships are included to further your exploration.
Education in Humanities (undergraduate, graduate, and post-graduate)
This is the path of most resistance, but perhaps also the dream job of many English and Philosophy majors. Considering a career at university is a chance to do the same kind of good work you observe in your professors week after week. Professors specialize in a particular discipline and a particular subject matter within their field. Work consists of research, creative thinking, extraordinary amounts of reading and retention, effective and beautiful communication, and diverse pedagogical skills to convey subjects to students.
This might be for you if you find yourself with a boundless thirst for learning and knowledge. People who are successful in professorships in English and philosophy usually enjoy copious amounts of reading, precise analysis and synthesis of material, and original thinking applied to highly specific subject material.
For intern style work leading up to graduate school, consider being a Teacher's Assistant or Research Assistant for one of your professors or working for Biola's Center for Christian Thought or Center for Christianity, Culture, and the Arts. Also, consider:
The essential cog in anyone’s wheel, library workers make the world of research and cultural heritage go round. Libraries ground a people’s access to knowledge. Library staff makes the library possible by helping visitors with research, expanding the library’s collection and resources, and engaging in public outreach and cultural education.
You might enjoy library work if you enjoy plugging into the projects of others and coming alongside them to give them the resources they need to excel, as well as shaping the knowledge culture of a local or sometimes even state or national community. Successful library workers have immense organizational skills, vast memories, a knack for research, and a commitment to their community through cultural engagement and education.
Pursue work at Biola's own library, or:
Law combines careful thought and charisma in service to the public maintenance of justice in the high-pressure legal system of our country. There is an abundance of U.S. and international paths to take in this direction, from the clerical work of a paralegal to the public service of a judge, prosecutor, or defender to the private practice of big and small firms alike. You can plan on spending long hours settling disagreements and righting wrongs between people by researching, upholding case law, and seeking justice.
Might be for you if you find yourself with a passion for justice, an attentiveness to the import of argument, and a love for writing, research, and public speaking. Successful workers in law are attentive to detail, energetic, and able to work in high-pressure situations.
These are the jobs that change lives. With more and more professors leaving the university system in favor of teaching in the middle and high school systems, this is the place to be if you are interested in shaping the next generation by pursuing their well-being in personal formation, cultivating a love for learning, and passionately conveying your subject matter to them.
Might be for you if you value young people and want to invest in them. The job has little glory, little pay, and little upward mobility if you want to stick to your subject matter, but the fruit – oh the fruit! – is sweet in this labor. That’s why teachers stay: even though it’s hard, the kids are worth it. Successful teachers in secondary education are of the sort that know how to adapt to the needs of their students, are passionate and informed about their subject, and are masters at making material accessible, compelling, and worth the careful time and devotion of their students.
Here’s where the powers of persuasion and artfulness come to life in the written word. You don’t get a voice, a face, or typically a captive audience; the creative or technical writer uses their pen, keyboard, (or even a typewriter) to make their chosen language come to life on a page; saying everything that needs to be said with carefully crafted text.
Might be for you if you pursue expression through well-chosen words, value communication, persuasion, or storytelling, and love to produce your own original content. Successful writers are patient, avid practitioners of their language, with immense aptitude for genre, audience, and occasion. They have a unique understanding of how they communicate in the world, and their talented words reflect that as each piece they put forward is decidedly organic.
If you want to talk about more options specific to your interests, schedule an appointment with me in Handshake.