What Can You Do with an English Major?

Wesley van Eeden, The Taxi Dance (2015)

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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.

The current job market is complicated by the COVID-19 pandemic—no question. But there is hope. A variety of employers are finding creative ways to provide internship opportunities and hire new employees. For example, small organizations are setting up workspaces to accommodate physical distance guidelines. Other organizations are offering remote positions. Given the severe impact of the pandemic on the borough of Queens, The English Department and Queens College consider it more important than ever to help students prepare for and find internship and employment 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 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 Employers Are 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.

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.

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.

WNYC, New York’s public radio station, 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. You can view profiles of WNYC’s current interns here.

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.