What Can You Do with an English Major?

On these pages, you’ll find practical—and hopefully inspirational—advice about the many possible career paths for English majors.

The Why Major in English? tab features a detailed explanation of the value of what you learn in English courses: analysis, writing and oral-communication, digital communication, collaboration, problem-solving, and moral, political, and ethical debate.

The Careers & Internships tab features practical information about landing internships and preparing for the job market—including links to lots of helpful organizations, both on- and off-campus.

The Alumni tab features work-life testimonials written by graduates of the Queens College English Department reflecting on their career paths and how they’ve navigated them.

Why Major in English?Careers & InternshipsAlumni

Wesley van Eeden, The Taxi Dance (2015)

A love of language, reading, writing, and discussion can evolve into a lifelong pursuit of literature and culture—and a career in a wide range of fields.

Classroom & Seminar Experience
Mentorship in small classes
The English Department at Queens boasts some of the smallest classes at Queens College. As an English major, you will benefit from the sustained attention of your professors. You will receive thoughtful, supportive, and rigorous feedback for your written work and oral presentations—which will be transformative for you as a writer and thinker.

Collaborative learning environment
Many of our classes are discussion-based seminars, where your voice will be heard. You will also be able to get to know your fellow classmates, and be able to participate in extensive class discussions, and shared projects. Many of our students stay in close personal and professional touch with each other—and with us—for decades after graduating. Many great collaborations are born in our English classes and in our extracurricular spaces, like QC Voices, our literary journal, creative readings, and many more.

Accomplished faculty
The English faculty at Queens College is made up of scholars and practitioners with national and international reputations. They are known for contributing to and shaping their disciplines and fields—publishing criticism, journalism, Op-Eds, essays, fiction, poetry, and translation. Queens College faculty contribute to and shape public debates. They will share their knowledge and intellectual discoveries with you, they will provide models for your own scholarly, intellectual, and creative pursuits, and they can invite you into their professional and creative networks.

Your professors will be able to vouch for you as you search for a job or apply for further study; they will know you and your work well.

Developing Your Talents
Developing strength and confidence as a speaker, writer, and creator
Often our students tell us: “I was so apprehensive at the beginning when you had us give class presentations. But once I got up the courage to speak, I learned I was really good at it and it got easier the next time I had to speak in public.” Or, without knowing they have a talent for writing poetry, they publish a short lyric poem. Or they discover that they have a flair for research and a knack for argumentation that helps them produce excellent written papers. One reason to major in English is that the writing and presentation abilities you gain will not only help with self-expression, but will be the building blocks of a successful working life–and will be invaluable in all the times in your life where you need to write or speak in public.

Immersion in the digital and multimodal world of writing and publication
Now–more than ever–our culture relies on digital and multimodal communication. Many of our professors are some of the most active thinkers and researchers in online communication. While the digital world has touched our lives deeply, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is in some ways in its infancy, and there is a great deal to learn: about digital selfhood, digital activism, online education and culture and online publication. Queens English is committed to developing your talents as an online “multimodal” writer as well as one who works in print and other analog formats. Equally important, we are committed to developing your ability to self-consciously reflect and understand the contours, potentialities and problems of the online world in which you find yourself, as a critical user of technology.

Exploration of the literary and cultural life of NYC–and beyond
As an English major at Queens College, you will move far beyond Klapper Hall and the Queens campus. Many professors offer activities and study opportunities throughout the city, including dramatic productions, intensive study in galleries and archives, roundtable debates, or open mic readings. Your professors are active participants in the life of the city and beyond, and eager to facilitate these city-wide learning opportunities for you. To be an English major is to get access to the resources of the city and its cultural institutions–and to apply those opportunities to your studies.

Literary study as a gateway to other intellectual passions
The English major is an ideal degree for people with an omnivorous interest in history, philosophy, psychology, social justice activism, music and dance–and many other topics. Since English, American, and Global Literature encompass so many kinds of human experience, it is natural that we use every possible tool to study and appreciate it. As you will see from our alumni profiles, the careers and lives of our students touch every sector of our economy and culture, and the breadth of the English degree prepares you well to adapt to new and changing intellectual currents.

Careers
Your English coursework will prepare you for the demands of entering the professional job market. You’ll learn how to write about yourself, expand your vocabulary for materials like resumes and cover letters, and strengthen your persuasive writing for applications and proposals. Intensive reading, writing, analysis, creative work, collaboration, and discussion are hallmarks of the English Major at Queens College. What you do in the classroom is a very real springboard for a career in a variety of professional disciplines.

There is a common myth that English majors don’t find good jobs after they complete their degrees. But it really is only a myth. You need only look at what our impressive alumni have done after their studies. It is clear that the English major has opened doors for these alumni, and it can do the same for you. Recent newspaper and magazine stories stress how English majors are in demand in many sectors in the economy.

Here are a few examples:

The English Department and Queens College have a thriving alumni community. Look for QC on Linked-In and look for QC English on Instagram and Facebook.

A Lifelong Pursuit of Knowledge & Expression

Reflection on how literature, culture, and the written word responds—and shapes—our cultural and political life.

Have you ever noticed that people turn to poems, novels, films and other media forms in times of crisis? One of the aims of the English major is to see the long history of human literary and cultural expression, and the ways in which literary works matter to a culture, and offer meaning, consolation, and communities to their readers and viewers.

To address the most important cultural questions of our time

Our colleagues in English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln note that importance of “imaginative reasoning,” a value we share at Queens College. They explain this beautifully on their website:

Imaginative reasoning is the ability to use the imagination to think hypothetically about the world in all its diversity—the past, present, and future, the local and the global. Such an ability, we believe, enables all of us to engage critically with social and political phenomena because it allows us to re-envision what is possible and to dream up audacious solutions to seemingly insoluble problems, solutions that might at first seem implausible but, once dreamt up—once imagined—suddenly seem possible. These moments of imaginative insight compel us to ask: Why are such solutions deemed impossible or implausible to begin with? Who says so and for what reasons? What prevents us from dreaming of alternatives, of imagining other paths, in the first place?

At Queens College, we stress the imagination and an expansive engagement not simply to help you engage with the world as it is now, but to try to shape a better political and social reality.

Careers & Internships

In the English Department at Queens College, we are dedicated to helping students discover and pursue a variety of careers. People often ask, “What can you do with a degree in English?” The answer is that many industries are interested in recruiting students who think critically, write well, communicate effectively, have experience in digital media, and are attuned to the global or intercultural perspectives employers need in the twenty-first-century workplace.

The infographic below will give you a sense of possible careers in publishing, communications, the arts, law, non-profit organizations, technology, education, politics, translation, public relations, advertising, library science, technical writing.

Infographic: Possible Career Paths

The current job market is evolving quickly. The good news is that employers are looking for young people to invigorate their organizations. Increasingly, employers are offering flexible schedules and a combination of in-person and remote work. Along with grade point average, the single best indicator for success on the job market is the number of internships a student ha completed. That includes both finding a job in your chosen field and salary. Because of this, the English Department and Queens College make it a priority to help students find internship opportunities.

Landing an internship or a job in a field that excites you will require initiative on your part. But we’re here to help, along with Queens College’s Center for Career Engagement and Internships. Contact Professor Jason Tougaw (jason.tougaw@qc.cuny.edu) for more information.

Scroll down for resources and opportunities for internships and employment. Whenever possible, we have included information about how organizations are adapting to COVID-19 protocols.

What do you learn as an English major?
  • Critical acumen
  • Close reading and analysis
  • Writing with clarity, precision, and style
  • Oral Communication
  • Collaboration
  • Problem solving

Global and intercultural perspectives on urgent questions, including politics, social structures, psychology, aesthetics, and personal relations.

What are employers looking for?
According to The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), twenty-first-century employers are looking for the following experience, or “competencies”—many of which you will have practiced in your literature and writing courses:

  • Career & Self-Development
  • Communication
  • Critical Thinking
  • Equity & Inclusion
  • Leadership
  • Professionalism
  • Teamwork
  • Technology

For detailed explanations of what’s involved in these competencies, take a look at the NACE Career Readiness site.

Opportunities

The Queens College Center for Career Engagement and Internships keeps an updated list of job and internship opportunities—on their Hire QC page—in addition to hosting regular workshops and career fairs. They also provide help preparing resumés, cover letters, and other materials. They can help students apply for scholarships for unpaid internships. They are currently offering remote advisement for students. They also offer competitive stipends for students doing unpaid internships. Check out their resources here. You can see their animated orientation video here. Take a look at their Staff Directory if you’re thinking about making an appointment. They offer some specialized materials for English majors, including Career Planning and advice about what you can do with a degree in English.

Queens College has a partnership with New York Public Radio, the umbrella organization for WNYC, New York’s public radio station, which offers exciting competitive internships. Queens College students have been among their roster of interns from all over the country, working in the newsroom, the social media department, archives, and on various high-profile programs, including The Takeaway and The Brian Lehrer Show. The application period for internships for the 2022-2023 academic year is June 20 – July 23. If you’re interested, take a look at this announcement and this FAQ for details about the partnership—and how you can get help from QC faculty on your application. You can view profiles of WNYC’s current interns here.

The CUNY Career Success Initiative offers a number of paid internships, including The CUNY Service Corps, Service Corps Puerto Rico, CUNY Cultural Corps, and CUNY Census Corps. They also host online seminars on resumé building, practicing for interviews, writing cover letters, and other topics.

CUNY Cultural Corps offers academic year internships to CUNY students looking to gain professional experience in the arts and culture.

Queens College offers a number of Experiential Learning Internships, including CUNY Service Corps, CUNY Career Launch, and CSSI Google. These can be great platforms for preparing to be a competitive applicant for internships outside the college.

New York City’s Workforce1 provides help with resumé building, developing job search skills, and interview preparation. Their site includes listings of employment opportunities. They are currently offering their various services online.

Bookjobs.com, sponsored by the Association of American Publishers, lists a wide range of internships—both paid and unpaid—within the publishing industry. If you register for the site, you can receive regular updates and upload your resumé for employers to see.

The Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities offers programs to help Latinx students find internships, job opportunities, and scholarships. They visit Queens College regularly and work with our students. Their site includes a job board and a feature where you can upload your resumé for employers to see.

The Center for Communication “connects university students with leading media professionals to learn about the latest in the ever-evolving media industry.” They host regular events and list internship opportunities on their site. They are currently hosting a series of online discussions with media professionals as well as video classes led by prominent journalists.

Save the Internships is an initiative designed to create internship opportunities for Communications, Marketing, and Advertising majors. English majors with a minor in Business and the Liberal Arts (BALA) or other related programs may qualify. The project was launched by a CCNY professor and the Advertising Agency Pereira O’Dell to serve CUNY students. You can learn more about it in this article in Adweek magazine.

Ladders for Leaders offers thorough training and preparation for New York City students seeking internships. They also offer stipends for students doing unpaid internships. Their application deadline is in April. They work with employers all over the city, in a variety of industries. They offer a page listing all their Queens worksites. Note: Because of concerns about coronavirus in the workplace, Ladders for Leaders has suspended for the summer. Check back with them as the fall approaches.

The PENCIL Internship program offers training and preparation for New York City students seeking internships. They partner with Ladders for Leaders to provide stipends for unpaid internships. They visit Queens College regularly to host orientation workshops. PENCIL is working to keep its program going online. For more information, contact them at pencil@pencil.org or 646-638-0865.

The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) offers “Career Readiness” resources to help you become the strongest job candidate you can be. NACE is offering a number of online forums for students thinking about the job market—group coaching roundtables and sessions on diversity initiatives, mental health and career development, and career readiness.

NBC Universal has paid summer internships that are a good fit for English students. Interns are placed at various networks/media companies.

The organization We Need Diverse Books offers supplemental grants of $3000 to students from diverse backgrounds—defined broadly—who find internships in Children’s Publishing. On their site, they list the publishers they partner with, along with link to the application processes for those publishers. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the organization offers emergency grants for “Diverse creative in children’s publishing.”

The New York State Leaders Student Intern Program “provides a centralized location to access all New York State government internships.” Their current application period is April 27, 2020 – September 11, 2020. The program is designed to serve college students in New York State.

The Ron Brown Prep Program is a great option for undergrads and graduates interested in Law. Their pipeline programs help a lot of students who might not otherwise go to law school, go to law school.

The Poetry Project offers two outstanding Fellowships. Their Curatorial Fellowship is designed for anyone interested in curating poetry events. Their Mentorship Fellowship is designed for recent graduates of MFA programs in creative writing. This year’s application deadline for both fellowships is August 16, 2020.

Electric Literature offers internships that “introduce undergraduate and graduate students, emerging writers, and aspiring publishing professionals to digital publishing and the New York literary scene.” They tend to offer the internships in two or three cycles each year, so it’s a good idea to check their site regularly. Their internships are all currently remote.

Reel Works is a non-profit organization that offers amazing paid internships and paid boot camps to train students to work in media. Their MediaMKRS program is a partnership between educators, employers, unions and The NYC Mayor’s Office to train, credential and prepare talented young New Yorkers for careers in media and entertainment.

Made In NY trains students to become production assistants in the entertainment industry. The program sponsored by the New York City Media and Entertainment department.

Women’s Weekend Film Challenge works to bring gender equity to the film industry by training and creating opportunities for women interested in the industry. They hold regular virtual workshops on a variety of topics.

MEOjobs is an independent non-commercial website that aggregates career opportunities in media & communications, produces a free weekly top jobs newsletter, and hosts monthly networking happy hours for working professionals.

FindSpark is an online and offline community dedicated to setting up every young professional for career success and connecting employers to top, diverse early career talent.” They offer online career resources, job listings, and events featuring speakers from high-profile employers.

Journalism Internship Calendar. Journalist Mandy Hofmockel (Hearst CT) created this comprehensive calendar of internships and fellowships, along with application deadlines. It’s a great resource for students interested in journalism or media fields.

From the National Humanities Alliance Foundation’s Study the Humanities initiative comes What Are You Going to Do With That?, “a podcast where we explore everyday folks’ decisions to study the humanities as undergraduates and their pathways to fulfilling careers. The first season features a diverse group of young professionals with humanities backgrounds reflecting on how they’ve applied the knowledge and skills they gained in college. These stories debunk widespread misconceptions about humanities majors’ career prospects by highlighting some of the limitless possibilities for applying humanities knowledge and skills in today’s workforce. Each episode traces a unique pathway from a humanities major to careers in law, public health, finance, technology, museums, public relations, and high-end food production while emphasizing a broader theme that applies across humanities disciplines and industries.”

Jay Kim is a tattoo artist who owns her own shop in Manhattan
Ugo Eze is an oncology nurse, real estate investor, and podcast host
Timothy So is an Emergency Medical Technician who works on the frontlines, driving an ambulance
Kelly Santana is pursuing a Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) at NYU—and hopes to publish a children’s book
Gauthier Giacomoni is an assignment editor at CBS News
Asheka Reid is a Communications specialist in the U.S. Navy
Cesar R. Bustamante Jr. is a journalist
Sahla Zawril has a Master of Arts in Teaching and now is People Experience Manager at an Apple retail location
Emily Abrams is a paralegal with the U.S. Attorney’s Office
Danabelle Ignes is an art conservationist with plans to be an archivist
Scott Cheshire is a novelist, the author of High as the Horses Bridles. He regularly publishes in high-profile literary journals
Michelle Coleman transitioned from high school teaching to a career in student advising at Hunter College
Omar Farooqi works as a business development representative at an insuretech company
Elyse Price is a professional actor
Stacey Ann Lorick is a recruiter for a charter school
Shane Hanlon works for Doctors without Borders with posts in The Central African Republic, India, and Panama
Natalie Bernabe is a Pre-K teacher considering returning to school for a Master’s Degree in education
Sabina Eck is an English Language Arts teacher
Kaitlin McDermott teaches high school English at Saint Francis Preparatory School
Caitlin Marziliano is a financial aid counselor at Marymount Manhattan College
Cecile Wortman works as a staff attorney within a securities fraud practice
Sara Bowne works in book publishing at one of the “Big Five” New York firms
Sharon Tran is an Assistant Professor in the English Department at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County
Chani Rubenstein earned her M.A. in English at West Virginia University, where she taught college-level courses
Lisa Patterson Lay is a writing instructor at Barry University in Miami
Brandon Hernandez is a Language Arts Instructor
Frances Tran is an Assistant Professor of English at Florida State University
Chris Vitale is an operations & project manager for scientists and tech startups
Rob Rosengarten is a corporate attorney who does pro bono work for the LGBTQ community