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Careers in English

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What can I do with an English major or minor?
What is the value of my degree?
Where do I start?
What kind of internship is appropriate?
Where have prior JMU students interned?

What can I do with an English major or minor?
In this age of information and technology, the particular skills you’ve developed in your English classes are more in demand than ever before. Employers in all career pathways consistently cite writing and communication skills, critical thinking and complex problem-solving, ethical judgment and intercultural skills, and the capacity for continued learning, adaptability, and independence at the top of their lists of desired skills. As an English major, you have these skills in abundance, and you can easily market yourself to pursue such diverse careers as:

Editor

Publisher

Copy Editor

Literary Agent

Creative Writer

Journalist/Critic

Screenwriter

Technical Writer

Producer

Artist

Video Game Designer

Teacher/Scholar

Museum/Gallery Director

Program Director

Event Coordinator

Librarian/Archivist

Marketing Consultant

Public Relations Specialist

Research Analyst

Fundraiser

Grant Writer

Speech Writer

Public Sector Employee

Non-Profit Sector Employee

Medical Professional

Business/Finance Professional

Legal Professional

IT/Tech Professional

Corporate Consultant

Manager/Administrator

Academic Counselor

Human Resources Manager

Web Content Manager

What is the value of my degree?
Many of us come to the study of literature because it brings us joy, because it challenges us, and because it teaches us to ask complicated questions and formulate persuasive answers. As global citizens, thinkers, and humans, the value of the English degree is self-evident.

The good news is that this value also translates directly into the job market. Recent studies have confirmed that the study of literature improves empathy and complex cognition, skills that are in high demand in a job market that increasingly requires higher-level social an analytic skills. Indeed, despite persistent myths to the contrary, the value and marketability of English, Humanities, and Liberal Arts degrees have been confirmed by numerous recent studies, and have received attention in the following publications:


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Where do I start?
If you want to get started thinking about your own potential career path after graduation, the resources available here and at CAP are great places to start. There are also numerous books and resources available for English and Liberal Arts majors that are worth checking out:


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What kind of internship is appropriate?
Internships can be either paid or unpaid; they can range from 45 to 150 total hours; they can be local, national, or international; and they can be completed either during the fall and spring semesters, or during the summer. Because the English major teaches skills that are transferrable to numerous career paths, successful English internships can happen in many positions and fields. Whatever type of opportunity you pursue, we have found that the best placements include the following:

  • A clearly delineated position description.
  • Duties and responsibilities that are not haphazardly determined nor purely clerical in nature.
  • Provision of specific work area for the intern.
  • Exposure to other professional staff, clientele, etc. (as appropriate) for professional growth.
  • Opportunities for mentoring as appropriate.
  • Opportunities for feedback and discussion.

In the course of investigating internships and pursuing opportunities, students should consider what their individual learning goals are, and how the internship activities they are exploring would assist them in meeting those goals.

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Where have prior JMU English majors interned?
The internships listed below provide a sample of the many opportunities that prior JMU English majors have held, and the wide range of career fields in which they have found these opportunities. Some of these internship opportunities are right here at JMU, others are in the wider Harrisonburg community, and others are further afield in Virginia, Washington D.C., New York, in students’ hometowns, and even abroad. There are few limits on what you can do and where you can do it!

Just remember that you must apply for approval [link to application] to enroll in ENG 294 before starting the internship, and that you may not complete an internship for academic credit in a US state that is not a member of SARA. If you are interested in international internships, check in with JMU’s Center for Global Engagement.

Editing and Writing

  • The Center for American Places (Johns Hopkins University Press), Harrisonburg
  • The American Red Cross, Staunton,VA
  • Simon & Schuster Publishers, New York City
  • Montpelier, James Madison University alumni magazine
  • MaComère, Caribbean literature journal
  • Family Circle Magazine, New York City
  • Office of Affirmative Action, newsletter, James Madison University
  • Sister Speak, Feminist journal, James Madison University
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Rural Development Office, Washington DC
  • Werner Media, publisher of Rolling Stone Magazine
  • NBC News 20/20 Magazine, broadcast intern
  • Daily News-Record, journalism intern, Harrisonburg
  • Kenmore Plantation and Gardens, tour script research and writing
  • Rockingham Memorial Hospital Planning and Marketing Department, writer
  • The Valley Banner newspaper, journalism intern
  • Black Entertainment Television, Corporate Communications
  • Getawayweddings.com, writer
  • Shenandoah Valley-Herald, Woodstock, VA
  • Daily News Record, Harrisonburg
  • The Valley Banner, Elkton
  • Madison Magazine, JMU
  • ASME Magazine, New York, NY
  • Brides Magazine, New York, NY
  • Clarke Times-Courier, Berryville, VA
  • Condé Nast Publishing Company, New York NY
  • Family Circle Magazine, New York, NY
  • Forbes Magazine, New York, NY
  • OTTN Publishing, Stockton, NJ
  • Style Weekly, Richmond, VA
  • Times Community Newspapers, Reston, VA
  • Washington Spaces Magazine, Vienna, VA
  • Skirt! Magazine, Jacksonville, FL
  • Gurl.com, New York, NY
  • Assorted professors and individuals in the campus & Harrisonburg communities

Education and Research

  • Vassar College, College Gifted Programs: Summer Institute
  • Female Institute, Summer Program, James Madison University
  • Stone Spring Elementary School, Harrisonburg
  • William H. Sadlier, Inc., New York, NY
  • On the Road Collaborative, Harrisonburg
  • Overcoming Barriers, Harrisonburg
  • Teaching or research assistant for professors on campus

Film, Television, and Radio

  • Late Night with Conan O’Brien, New York City
  • WMRA National Public Radio, Harrisonburg
  • WVPT National Public Television, Harrisonburg
  • NBC News 20/20 Magazine, New York City
  • Black Entertainment Television Networks, Inc., Washington DC
  • WHSV Channel 3 TV, Creative Services, Harrisonburg
  • ABC 20/20, Washington DC
  • Black Entertainment Television, Inc., Washington DC
  • Lionsgate Media, New York, NY
  • Maryland Public Television, Owings Mills, MD
  • NBC Late Night with Conan O’Brien, New York, NY
  • New Line Cinema, West Hollywood, CA
  • WAVY TV10, Portsmouth, VA
  • WHFS-FM 991., Lanham, MD
  • C-SPAN

Hospitality

  • Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, Washington, DC
  • Getaway Weddings, Teaneck, NJ
  • Opryland Hotel, Nashville, TN
  • Walt Disney World

Law, Government, and Public Affairs

  • Office of Judicial Affairs, James Madison University
  • David L. Parker, Attorney at Law, Harrisonburg
  • New Jersey Public Defender’s Office, Somerville, NJ
  • Morris County Prosecutor’s Office, Morristown, NJ
  • York County Court of Common Pleas
  • Harrisonburg-Rockingham Chamber of Commerce, Harrisonburg
  • Albemarle County Executive’s Office, Charlottesville
  • United States Department of Agriculture
  • NATO Resources and Logistics Division, Brussels, Belgium
  • Mark Obenshain for Senate
  • US Representative Bob Goodlatte
  • McGuireWoods Consulting
  • R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, Environmental Affairs
  • Blue Ridge Legal Services, Harrisonburg
  • Ocean-Monmouth Legal Services, New Jersey

Management and Administration

  • Responsive Management, Survey and Management Internship, Harrisonburg
  • Office of Affirmative Action
  • Office of Annual Giving
  • Office of Judicial Affairs
  • Office of Sponsored Programs
  • Office of University Editor
  • Career Development Academy
  • English Department Office
  • Female Academic Academy

Medicine and Insurance

  • Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters, Norfolk, VA
  • Rockingham Memorial Hospital, Harrisonburg
  • Sentara Healthcare
  • Rockingham Group, Harrisonburg

Museums, Galleries, Theatres, and Libraries

  • Mitten Art Gallery, Harrisonburg
  • Special Collections, JMU Libraries
  • American Shakespeare Center, Staunton
  • Franklin Street Gallery, Harrisonburg
  • Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library, Staunton
  • Smithsonian Institute, Washington, DC
  • Central United Methodist Church (Rare book cataloguing), Staunton
  • New England Aquarium, Boston, MA
  • Kenmore Plantation & Gardens, Fredericksburg, VA
  • Virginia Quilt Museum

Non-Profits

  • New England Aquarium, Director of Volunteers
  • College English Association
  • Migrant Education, Harrisonburg
  • Women in Community Service, New York City
  • American Red Cross
  • Mahatma Gandhi Center for Global Nonviolence
  • Furious Flower Poetry Center
  • Women in Community Service, New York, NY
  • Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, Washington, DC
  • Center for American Places, Staunton/Harrisonburg
  • Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance
  • The Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights

PR and Marketing

  • Opryland Hotel, Nashville
  • Senior Class Challenge Chairman, James Madison University
  • Brabender Cox Mihalke, Political Consulting and Media, Washington DC
  • McGuire Woods Consulting, LLC, Public Relations, Richmond, VA
  • International Shakespeare Theatre Trust, London
  • 250 Franklin Street Gallery, Harrisonburg
  • The Mitten Gallery, Harrisonburg
  • Media Link Communications, Inc., Harrisonburg
  • Storm Dopman Advertising Agency, Ft Lauderdale, FL
  • World Access Marketing, Maplewood, NJ
  • Warner Bros. Pictures Publicity, New York, NY
  • The Ivy Group, Charlottesville
  • Philadelphia Phillies, Media Relations

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