OK, I'm a Major. How Do I Think about Careers Now?
There are many ways to research career fields of interest to you. (One common way is to complete an internship.) Alumni/ae who have held internships or participated in career previews have lots of advice to offer.
"If you are able, get exposure to things you may be interested in. Since you will spend so much of your time working, it's good to find a way to passionate about what you do."
"Look at your major as preparation for a life of expanded learning, thinking and analyzing. Grinnell prepares you for life; graduate school prepares you for a job. Keep your mind open and be looking at other kinds of experiences. Take advantage of opportunities to do internships and study abroad and use it to complement your coursework."
"Be flexible. Don't expect that what you think you are going to do is what you'll end up doing."
"Get on the phone and call 5-10 alumni/ae in areas that you are interested in. Just talking with these alumni/ae is the single most important thing you could do to prepare for a career."
"A major in English is probably best viewed as a way to use literature and language as a mirror for both self-knowledge and for understanding who you want to be in relation to the rest of the world. In that sense, it's one of the most adaptable and useful fields. Unless you were intent on a career as a writer or professor, it is not a major that provides direct professional or trade skills - fortunately."
"It's very easy to start to believe all of the people you meet outside of Grinnell who will tell you that an English degree is useless outside of academia. Ignore them. Your education at Grinnell provides you with skills and tools to move into any number of careers. Knowing how to write and think critically is not a skill that will ever become obsolete. If you need a specific skill, you can always attend training.
"Do not be afraid of computers! I spent my college years befuddled and intimidated by computers and the people who understood them. Since then, I've supported software, replaced hardware, written technical documentation, and created applications. You don't have to be a mathematical genius to write computer code - you just need to learn the appropriate programming language (which really isn't hard for someone used to decoding text!). The people who can use technology and have good writing, speaking and thinking skills can move very quickly in their career."
"Do something that you enjoy, but remember that you have a life outside of your career - what you do is not who you are. You must ask for opportunities - no one will hand them to you. The people who succeed in my organization are the self-starters who look for opportunities to improve."
"Follow your heart as if the money didn't matter. You will be happier that way, no question. Don't be afraid to put yourself out there. Knock on the most prestigious doors, where you feel you are in awe of everything that goes on inside. Even if you are quaking in your boots, do it!
"You'll regret it later if you let fear keep you on the sidelines. You might always wonder how much better you could have been."
"Internships are not necessary, although in some cases they can be helpful. What is necessary is that students should start paying serious and persistent attention to opportunities for employment in the junior year and certainly no later than the beginning of the senior year."