Willburrr
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This thread isn't to denigrate those doing English, I am just having a slight existential crisis. I chose to apply for English as I love it and it's my favourite subject, however I don't know what I can do with it. It doesn't have the security of my friends applying for medicine or engineering. But what can I do with am English degree? Where can it take me?
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xDave-
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(Original post by Willburrr)
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I have a first class honours English Language degree, but I could've gotten a 2:2 and I don't think anything would've changed. Which job requires solely the skills one learns on an English degree? If it's Literature, then none. If it's Language - the more useful of the two - then you could be a speech therapist, and that's about it. But everyone who does Language wants to be a speech therapist, so good luck to you if that's your goal. Having an English degree will open up the door to grad schemes and such, but then you have to compete with every other person who holds a generic degree, plus the people who actually have some relevant skills (spoilers: they usually get the job, or the person who can speak fluent bull**** the best).

Have you started the degree yet? Even if you have, if you're in first year, you could still drop out and have 3 more years of student loan funding for another course. Frankly, my advice would be to not do an English degree. I am different to you though; I picked the course randomly as I didn't know what I wanted to do. I didn't have some sort of interest in English. Maybe you'll enjoy it for the three years? But you do have significantly more years to worry about upon finishing your course.
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Willburrr
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(Original post by xDave-)
I have a first class honours English Language degree, but I could've gotten a 2:2 and I don't think anything would've changed. Which job requires solely the skills one learns on an English degree? If it's Literature, then none. If it's Language - the more useful of the two - then you could be a speech therapist, and that's about it. But everyone who does Language wants to be a speech therapist, so good luck to you if that's your goal. Having an English degree will open up the door to grad schemes and such, but then you have to compete with every other person who holds a generic degree, plus the people who actually have some relevant skills (spoilers: they usually get the job, or the person who can speak fluent bull**** the best).

Have you started the degree yet? Even if you have, if you're in first year, you could still drop out and have 3 more years of student loan funding for another course. Frankly, my advice would be to not do an English degree. I am different to you though; I picked the course randomly as I didn't know what I wanted to do. I didn't have some sort of interest in English. Maybe you'll enjoy it for the three years? But you do have significantly more years to worry about upon finishing your course.
A bit bleak but thanks man
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xDave-
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(Original post by Willburrr)
A bit bleak but thanks man
Yeah, it sucks, but I wish I was told this prior to starting my degree. I remember that, because I didn't know what career I wanted to go into, I picked a degree that didn't limit me to one career. In my head, that meant I could go into any career, but, in reality, it actually limited me to zero careers!

The actual purpose of university seems to have become lost in the last few decades, maybe because anyone can get a loan now. A lot of people use it to "grow up", have fun, and whatever else, and fair enough, you can do those things. But that's not its overall purpose; it's really a place for you to acquire skills and knowledge at the very pinnacle of a subject.

Is that possible for Literature? You can do research degrees in literature but I'm not really sure what you're researching. It's not like there are things we don't understand, is it? I'm not a Literature expert so I don't know.

It's definitely possible in Language; there are lots of language issues that we don't understand at all. So if you want to research psycholinguistics/clinical linguistics, then be my guest. If your interests are in grammar, phonetics, pragmatics, etc, then I don't think there's too much to research there. Maybe I'm wrong, but it seemed like we have a pretty good understanding of these subjects and they're being pointlessly debated now. Sociolinguistics will always want people, I suppose. But these all require a PhD remember, so you'll be a lecturer and a researcher. There's nothing else on offer.
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melissamessy
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I haven't finished my degree yet but I wouldn't be quite as bleak as that... there's obviously publishing, journalism (or anything in the media industry, really), teaching, the possibility of a law conversion, civil service work. There's also lots of opportunities for internships at publishing houses, newspapers and places like the BBC, though that possibly depends on which university you're at as to what business links it has. English is competitive for a reason. People study it because they're passionate about it. It depends on how dedicated you are to the subject really, and how creatively you use your degree and the time you have whilst studying (I've got a place on an intensive publishing course during a reading week to boost my CV).
Granted, it's harder to get a job with an arts or humanities subject because they're not based on physically practical and applicable skills. But would you want to study something for three years of your life that you didn't love?
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QHF
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(Original post by Willburrr)
This thread isn't to denigrate those doing English, I am just having a slight existential crisis. I chose to apply for English as I love it and it's my favourite subject, however I don't know what I can do with it. It doesn't have the security of my friends applying for medicine or engineering. But what can I do with am English degree? Where can it take me?
The summer after I graduated with an English BA I got a job in medical e-learning where all my colleagues were graphic designers, computer science people (one with a PhD in it), one learning design expert, and a lot of doctors. That isn't to say that there are jobs growing on trees for people with humanities degrees, but my point is that if you do an English degree there really is a very wide range of things you can do. It's not a vocational degree like law or medicine so you need to have an open and flexible conception of what you might do afterwards.

With a degree like English employers are unlikely to be desperately concerned about the specific subject you studied at university, and more concerned about the skills you learned and the experience you picked up on the side. While at university it's a good idea to aim to both do well (a 2.1 or a first) on the degree and to pick up other experience which you can put on your CV (paid work, voluntary work, student society stuff &c). If there is a particular sector you'd like to work in then try to pick up experience and connections in that sector; if not, then find something constructive and instructive to do.

We're living in a pretty grim time for employment and I'm not sure I see things getting much less grim in future -- with people working older and older and jobs growing in number at the top and (especially) the bottom of the pile while hollowing out in the middle. It's perfectly legitimate to choose to do a more vocational degree subject in that kind of environment but if you're passionate about English and want to study it at university I wouldn't say it's necessarily a bad career choice. You just have to think about how to play it and what else you can bring to the table.
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Scarlettperrie
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I think if you have a passion for English, it would be worth doing a degree in it. Personally I love English literature and am planning on doing that degree at university. I know quite a few people that have previously completed an English degree and loved it. She ending up going in to publishing and loves her job. Other jobs that it could lead to would be Editing, advertising, proof reading, journalism (All these jobs I've known people get into with an English degree)

Hope you make the right choice

Scarlett x
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UniofReading
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(Original post by Willburrr)
This thread isn't to denigrate those doing English, I am just having a slight existential crisis. I chose to apply for English as I love it and it's my favourite subject, however I don't know what I can do with it. It doesn't have the security of my friends applying for medicine or engineering. But what can I do with am English degree? Where can it take me?
Hello!

There are many preconceptions about studying a humanities degree and there is the stereotype that it will be difficult to find a career or the usual question gets asked: 'Do you want to become a teacher?' If you want to go into teaching then that's great- its really flexible as you can start a teaching course at any point. But there are lots of other different careers that you can go into!

I would say that coming to university made me even more confused about what career I wanted to do as there were so many jobs that I didn't think my English Literature and History of Art degree would take me into. There is media, journalism, museum/heritage work, theatre, government, charity work, marketing, law, banking, the public sector and so on. Within this there may be areas which you wouldn't necessarily think to connect an English degree with. For example, I spoke to a person who had left the University of Reading with an English degree who was working in the medical field, proof reading reports and working with doctors and nurses on their writing. Marketing also enables you to be really creative whether it be through visual or textual forms. If you choose to go for a career that doesn't involve English literature, the skills that you have gained from studying it are very important such as analytical and critical skills, writing, the ability to adapt to different styles of writing/contexts, presenting your ideas fluently etc. If when you finish your degree you want to continue onto further education, you can apply for many other subjects different to English without having the BA course in that chosen field, for example the history of design.

I would suggest trying as many different work areas as possible through work experience to see what you are interested in doing or what careers you really don't want to be working in. Of course there is unfortunately some difficulty in gaining paid work experience in the arts sector and some are unpaid. Do not let this put you off though! Many more companies offer fixed internships which are paid, or cover some expenses. Perhaps look at the opportunities that are offered by your university and talk with a careers advisor who will have recommendations of where to apply for work. At the University of Reading there is a work placement offered to humanities students in their second year. It is a fully paid scheme where you work with a member of staff and assist them in their research. You can also gain experience through working at one of the museums joined to the university or within the archive collection.

I hope that helps! Feel free to ask any more questions,
Pip, third year English Literature and History of Art
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username2004189
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Sorry, I know I'm a little late to this thread but I stumbled upon it...
I understand and respect what is being said here but as someone who is about to graduate with an English degree, I couldn't disagree more. The diversity of the English syllabus allows you to study Literature, Language, Script Writing, Creative Writing and many other areas of English which really demonstrate the versatility of an individual to employers and allow you to decide what area you enjoy most rather than limiting yourself to a specific subject. I was so worried about studying just English Lit or Lang in case I didn't enjoy it and I didn't want to limit myself for the future (Not saying that those who have chosen just one area are limiting themselves - I was a naive 17 year old). I have to say that it was the best decision I have every made and I have zero regrets! Anyone who studies any area of English is hard working and deserves more credit than is often received.
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