Or, What Can I Do With a Degree in Literature?
The majority of our literature majors go into teaching in the public schools. Other graduates get jobs using their writing skills in editing, advertising, publishing and other fields which require an ability to control written English, and familiarity with on-line writing environments. A smaller number of our students go on to graduate studies, in literature, creative writing, and pre-professional programs in law, medicine, and library science, to name a few.
Something you may not know is that research predicts all university graduates will have three careers — not jobs but careers — over their lifetimes. This poses an incredible challenge for colleges and universities; which of these three careers should we prepare you for? Indeed, is there a real way to prepare a student for career two or three?
The Literature Program at Stockton takes a different tack from the conventional wisdom which says: “College will prepare you for your first career, but you have to handle the second and third when they appear.” We, too, believe that we need to prepare you for your first career. Our efforts result in new curricular tracks, new approaches to literature, new uses of technologies and totally new ideas about what teaching literature might mean in the next decades.
An example would be our track in Secondary Education. We continually revise this track to bring it in line with both NJ State requirements and with NASDTEC — an external accrediting agency. We make these changes because we want to be certain that our students will be able to compete in the marketplace as new teachers and that they will have the skills and background to make them effective in the classroom. So we are taking care of the first career.
We believe we are helping with the second and third career also. All of our majors, regardless of which track they choose, gain a large set of skills that prepare them for the workplace. While we are training our Literature majors to read a Shakespearean play, we are also training them to write well, to present ideas to public audiences, to research effectively, to use computers with ease and, most of all, to think critically. These we found again and again, are skills that the marketplace values now and will continue to value.
One thing that we think distinguishes Stockton’s literature majors is that they know a great deal about the web. They know how to write basic HTML, how to do web research, how to write for/on the web; they have some ideas about web page design and how to extract content from a webpage. They also have experience evaluating that content for its reliability and truthfulness. And each year as our majors go forth, we hear from them that they got a job BECAUSE they knew these things. We hear that they are not only teaching Shakespeare, but are also teaching their students how to do effective research online or how to build a web page.
So, what careers does a Literature degree prepare you for? Almost any you want to undertake. We say that with an honesty born out of our experiences and the experiences of those students who have graduated.
Here’s what one of our graduates says about Stockton’s literature program:
“In my job, I work closely with the school Librarian here at Gateway Regional HS. . . . I have to say that the Web aspect of Stockton’s LITT program has paid off enormously.”
– Doug Skinner, Class of 2002, Web Designer, Gateway Regional High School, NJ
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Below are some links to specific career sites which we have found and which we want to share with our majors. We will add to the list when we find others.
Careers for English Majors Best.Colleges.com site that highlight key skills literature majors develop and make them marketable for a range of careers.
Resources for English major (Catholic University of America)
What is an English Major (UNC Wilmington)
USAJobs (the official job site of the US Federal Government)
Post Graduate Opportunities (Drake): resources for working, teaching, volunteering, and learning abroad