CRAFT OF LITERARY 2.4: Featuring Daniel Lassell – “4 Tips to Getting a Career Outside of Academia”
Some might say inspiration leads English students away from the corporate landscape and down the same career paths as their instructors. Others blame comfort or fear. But I would posit these students simply don’t know other options exist.
The very purpose of education is preparation for the future. But, as of late, it appears institutions haven’t been doing their part. Most English students I’ve spoken with have expressed a severe lack of knowledge about corporate career choices, which is a shame because employers today actually prefer English majors. English students offer good critical thinking skills with the ability to articulate those thoughts – something few other majors can boast.
If you’re searching for a career outside of academia, here are some quick tips to get started:
1. Connect with Friends and Acquaintances
Begin with people you know. Ask them about a specific job title opening – not just “any job,” since it will prompt an “anything answer.” Some common titles that go well with the English major are Copywriter, Content Writer, Communications Specialist, Technical Writer, Brand Journalist, Copyeditor, and Content Specialist.
You’d be amazed how many people get jobs through friends or acquaintances. That’s one of the reasons why school is so important: it builds connections.
2. Connect Your Skills to the Role
Compare what skills you already have to the skills in the job post. Read between the lines here; you may have accomplished more than you think. For example, if they’re looking for someone who can write to persuade an audience, you’ve already done that in writing thesis-driven essays.
Here’s the big question employers are asking: “Are you a good fit for my team?” Be sure to connect your skills in both cover letters and interviews. If you don’t have a previous job title that implies a certain skill set, it’s your goal to inform employers you’ve already demonstrated these requirements
3. Update Appearances
You get an interview because you’re qualified for the job. You get the job because of your personality. It’s cliché to say, but dress for the position you want. It’s superficial—I know—but you can focus on changing preconceptions later.
Social media and job searching are a lot like online dating: make sure your profile reflects your best qualities.
4. At the Interview: Be Ready for the Unexpected
Have a great handshake. It’s your first physical contact with employers, and a firm handshake demonstrates determination. Practice common interview questions beforehand with a friend, spinning all questions about weaknesses into strengths (for example: I get anxious being late to meetings, so I always arrive five minutes early).
Research the average income for the position. Since you don’t have the average level of experience, calculate a desired salary below this number. The employer will almost always ask you for a salary expectation on the first encounter – always at a time when you least expect it.
Lastly, have questions after the interview has concluded: This shows you’re eager for the position.
ABOUT DANIEL: Daniel Lassell is a copywriter, poet and creative writer. He is the winner of a William J. Maier Writing Award and runner-up of the 2016 Bermuda Triangle Prize. His work has been featured or is forthcoming in Atticus Review, Slipstream, Pembroke Magazine, Hotel Amerika, Reunion: The Dallas Review, The Poet’s Billow, Split Lip Magazine, and New Poetry from the Midwest. He received his MA in English from Marshall University, and has written for such companies as MOBI and Angie’s List. Currently, he is a Content Writer for Bluelock, a cloud-based IT disaster recovery company. You can connect with him on social media or at www.daniel-lassell.com
Craft of Literary features flash essays on craft, CW pedagogy, and publishing by emerging and established writers. For more information, click here.