English @ OU

Alumni Advice for English Majors

"When applying for jobs at publishing companies, don't just send a resume/cover/whatever else. Spend time learning a computer publishing program, preferably one similar to the company requirement. Using books and other reputable sources, design a page that illustrates researched knowledge on a topic that is simple and specific. This demonstrates that you can do the work and are a competent person with respect to organization and thoroughness. On that note, at OU, take advantage of the discounted computer programs, preferably Adobe suites; one with Photoshop would be nice.

If a job description has one requirement that you're not qualified for, don't get your hopes up. There are many qualified professionals out there that would fulfill all the requirements and are vying for a position at the company. The saying goes, "There is no harm in trying," but in my experience, it wasn't worth applying.

Don't be too proud to sell yourself short for a few months and work a job that a high schooler would take, or volunteer at an organization. You have a degree, but that doesn't make you the princess of Jovania.

Make nice with your professors and unleash your inner intellect that bores your friends; you won't get letters of recommendation from just any professor you had for 11 weeks!

Don't think you know it all: Use the Career Services to brush up on the interview.

Don't bounce your voice. Be tranquilly excited.

And don't be lazy and apathetic and assuming; read up online concerning trends in job searching and job acquiring. It helps."

Irene Raya

"Throughout my career, I have had the opportunity of meeting and developing close personal and professional relationships with a wide variety of scholars in my various fields. This had made a tremendous difference in my academic and professional development. I have also learned to welcome the difficulties of pursuing graduate degrees with open arms, willing to accept failure as a part of success. Listening has become more important than talking, giving has become more important than receiving, and learning has become a fundamental part of my ability to teach. Always be a student. Always love the student, for without her, without him, we would be nothing."

Heidi R. Freeman, MA, 2005

"Study hard, party moderately and have a back up plan. You have to think now what kind of life you would like to have ten years from now and make your decisions based upon "when I look back 10 years from now, will this decision still be impacting my life?"

Then decide what amount of money are you willing to accept for a salary. Do you want to live in Los Angeles, CA or do you want to live in Athens, OH? (There is quite a difference.) Do you want to travel the world or are you satisfied with Mt. Rushmore and the Grand Canyon? A Kia or a Benz? I knew that I wanted to make more than $30,000 per year because I wanted a family, a house and all the other trappings of the American Dream. I also knew that if I stayed at Starbucks for the next 10 ten years, I would never advance within the organization or find another job that would allow me to have the lifestyle I wanted. I also knew that eventually I wanted to be my own boss.

So I quit Starbucks, a move that would positively affect me in 10 years, applied to law school, a move that would positively affect me in 10 years, and am now an attorney practicing in Los Angeles. I have not been out of college for 10 years, but when I look back over the 8 years that I have been out, the choices I made are still positively impacting my life daily. "

Amanda Paull, BA, 2000

"Network and interview as much as possible!!! I made the mistake when I graduated thinking this one job was just going to take me and did not realize they would back out at the last minute. Also, be persistent. Do not feel that just by clicking a button on-line is actually applying to a position, follow up until you get face time with the company you are interested in interviewing with. DO NOT rely on OU’s career center. Instead, have a professional look over your resume and cover letter. I found my resume was not nearly up to par until a family friend looked at my resume and helped reconstruct it. It all boils down to who you know and having the confidence in yourself to get where you need to go. I know I still have a few more steps to take until my dream job, but at least I am now going in the right direction."

Anne Doyle, BA, 2006

"Just don't listen to the thousands of people who tell you there are no jobs in English. Ignore them, all of them, as best you can."

Neil Browne, Ph.D, 2001

"My only advice for English majors is to keep an open mind while applying for jobs. It is important to remember that an English degree is a solid foundation for any job, because the English curriculum refines writing skills, reading comprehension, and analytical skills. These are essential skills for any job and excellent to market in an interview."

Stephanie Michal