I have a question for all of you, and this is a serious question which I hope that you will all spend some personal time thinking about, and that you’ll come up with a serious answer.

What do you do with a BA in English?

No, seriously. Because there are a lot of things you can with that degree in general, but specifically, what exactly do you do? Pair that with an AS in Culinary Arts and you’ve got a high quality candidate right? Second question:

How did you get your job?

Because if you can get a job, no offense, but my Dana here should be able to get one too. Do you think it’s because employers are reluctant to hire a masculine female? I don’t like to think that was the case in some of these lost opportunities, but it does seem likely.

Some of it is this catch 22, where you can’t get a job without experience, but you can’t gain experience without a job. You know you have the skills but no employer’s just going to take your word for it, they want proof, you know?

I got my first job in good faith, the guy hired me because I took photography, I knew cyan yellow and magenta, I could do basic math, and I had a good eye for color balance. I worked at that job for a year and a half until my personal life, and the store volume were not compatible anymore.

I got my current job with no phone experience, but now I’m pretty much a pro. Maybe that’s why I don’t want to work there anymore – I’ve mastered the menial task of “how are you today?” “how would you like to pay?” “Sure i’ll set up a payment arrangement” “can i have your routing and account number?” Every call is exactly the same customer, every call is the same scenario. It’s just hard because I’m a naturally compassionate person so when they say I have to sound concerned about the customer’s situations, the only way for me to “sound” that way is to actually be concerned. I end up draining myself of all my love and care on people who will not, cannot reciprocate, and just want my sympathies so I’ll give them what they want.

I digress. Any help out there? Anything? Ideas, comments, profanity?


6 thoughts on “empleyo

  1. there’s that old saw about wantin’ fries with that BA in English …

    in my humble experience, it is more about how you present yourself and your sincere, confident willingness than strict adherence to qualifications. unless they need a rocket scientist or brain surgeon, etc. and its good to put the word out you’re looking in as sincerely positive a way as you can muster. i heard years ago, and i totally subscribe to the idea that 99% of your miracles in life come to you in the shape of people you know.

    good luck!

  2. *sigh* I’m fighting the biggest urge to finish that BA in English lyric from Avenue Q… now it’ll be stuck in my head for the rest of the day.

    Okay, the serious part. A professor once told me that the advertising industry was for English majors who go to the dark side. The firms like hiring English majors because we know how to manipulate language. So there’s always that.

    I’ve found the degree also comes in handy in fundraising, if one is looking to work on the light side of the force. Many non-profits are more open-minded about their hiring, and less likely to judge based on appearance or gender presentation, although to some extent this is still dependent on the interviewer. As a person on the trans-masculine spectrum, I’ve found that if I go into an interview with confidence, knowing who I am and not apologizing for that, I can better focus both my energy and that of my interviewer more on my qualifications and less on my appearance. And if you have good writing samples, that’s half the battle.

    In terms of getting the job, especially with non-profits, you can often start out doing one thing and end up doing something completely different. The first place I worked was a very small office, and while I was hired as the office manager, it was a good place to expand and gain experience because in small businesses, everyone loves a multi-tasker. It’s a great way to dabble in all kinds of things, and since the turnover at those kinds of places tends to be high, chances are good that if you display a willingness to learn new things, your bosses will be more than happy to hand off some of the work. Idealist.org is a great resource for that kind of thing, and of course, to a lesser extent, so is craigslist.

    The other thing I discovered, ESPECIALLY about non-profits, is that sometimes, taking a job in at a place that may not exactly be your passion can often still lead to surprising discoveries and great experiences. Again, my first job was for Buddhists, and although I am not personally a Buddhist, working in that environment expanded not only my world view, but also my professional outlook. By the time I’d left, I’d been involved in fundraising, pilgrimage planning, product design and marketing, and even event production.

    Hope this helps some, and best of luck!

  3. If she has no desire for further schooling then natt is dead on with advertising. Editing for newspapers or some publishing houses would also be options allowing direct use of her degree. If there are colleges nearby then academic advising or administration jobs usually are plentiful.

  4. nattnightly– I definately busted out the Avenue Q when I was feeling down yesterday. It’s perfect for when you’re feeling down especially when you do have a B.A. in English.

    also I have total confidence in my masculinity and have no probably presenting myself as being an amazing candidate for any job that I apply for.

    I think that the area in which we live is having an especially dry spell with jobs.

    I just got a better job than my current job at a restaurant that is opening up.. it’s not my ideal but I also have an A.S. in Culinary Arts so it’s okay I guess… I just want a “grown up” job.

  5. This is for Dana: Unless you're thinking you want to be an engineer, the answer to this question is short & sweet:

    You can do almost anything with your degree.

    Don't get hung up on the fact that you were an English major. Employers in the non-profit and for-profit worlds (both of which are options for you) won't be thinking, gee, this person only knows about literature, so I can't use her! Instead, they'll be thinking about your aptitude and skill set (rhetorical analysis, reading, writing, etc).
    Don't think about what you *can* do with the degree, think about what you *want* to do, and then figure out a way to get there. Believe me, many many doors are open to you.

    Good luck to you both!

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