English Career Night: Internships, Non-Profits, and Crooked Paths
A couple of weeks ago, I had the opportunity to attend a special career panel aimed at helping English majors find their way in the difficult job market. Finding a good job can prove tough for graduates of any major, but there are particular challenges specific to those of us who major in English.
Didn’t get a chance to attend? No worries — here is a rundown of what was covered at this informative event!
The seminar began with an introduction from DePaul’s English Undergraduate Advisor James Phelps. He offered three related points to give attendees an idea of how to create a strategic path in order find a suitable career as an English graduate:
- Stop thinking in a straight line – be open paths other than the one you intended.
- Find things that set you apart from others and pursue those.
- Drive the car, don’t let the car drive you. Do this by taking full advantage of any opportunities available.
Following James, Chris Green, Director of Internships, presented information concerning the university’s internship program. He stressed the importance of getting a good internship, saying that internships have become the new interview. Most open positions and jobs aren’t widely posted, and internships can help create connections with companies that will get your foot in the door. Chris presented many noteworthy statistics; here are three that might be of interest:
- At large companies, 69% of internships turn into jobs.
- At small companies, 39% of internships turn into jobs.
- For DePaul’s Class of 2013, 58% of internships led to full-time employment.
The final section of the evening consisted of a panel of three individual that all hold careers with non-profit organizations. Zach Duffy, Tim Jones-Yelvington, and Colleen O’Connor all have various job experience and academic histories; however, they all ended up doing work for three of Chicago’s numerous non-profit groups.
Zach is currently the Director of Education at 826CHI, which works with students and teachers to build programs that promote creative writing. Tim works for Foresight Design Initiative, a company that supports the creation of leadership developmental programs for high school students. Colleen is the managing editor of Switchback Books, as well as the Content and Grant Manager at Northwestern University’s Family Institute.
Despite the differences in the panel’s job positions, they were still able to come up with some general rules of thumb if any English majors are interested in doing non-profit work:
- Recognize the work of the group and be committed to their mission – even at the internship level.
- Establish relationships with the people at the companies.
- Be open to change and be willing to stray from the path you imagined for yourself. (Reinforcing what James began the night with.)
- At internship level be willing to do work you deserve to get paid for and set yourself above others by taking initiative.
- If your own creative pursuits are important to you, set aside time for them.
Are you craving more information about possible career paths for English majors? Pay a visit to DePaul’s Career Center today. There, the Career Center’s experienced staff can take a look at your resume, recommend a plan of action, lead you in a mock interview, help you look through job postings, and much, much more.