I’m currently working as a Customer Experience Associate for Bonobos, the men’s clothing company, in New York (my manager, Mike Langley ’12, was also an English major). It’s a great position from which to observe and identify all of the different parts of one of the most disruptive and successful companies around. While it’s cliche for a liberal arts/Humanities graduate to say, I spend 90% of my day writing.
The day-to-day consists of writing e-mails or talking on the phone to/with happy, frustrated, or curious customers. The job requires me to know the “Why?” of every service our company provides and, furthermore, “Who” is responsible for rendering these services. No, I am not analyzing the subtler parts of my managers’ e-mails, but I do employ what I learned in the English Department when I have to present facts, arguments, or trends in our customers’ interactions with us. The English major may be primarily focused on learning how to effectively communicate thoughts, but it has the ancillary function of teaching its students to navigate the logic of others (in my case, co-workers and customers). Being a part of a whole is just as significant the whole itself, something the English major drives home and teaches without really even trying.
Likely, I will be returning more intimately to literature as a discipline (whether that be through teaching or attending graduate school), which makes me think I made the right choice in declaring English as one of my Colby majors. The major was so valuable to me, especially today, as it taught me how to navigate truths, seeing as truth is now, suddenly, the most fluid thing around us. It’s hard for me to point to something and see it as true in 2018, but I can at least pull evidence to form an argument for that same thing as being truthful. Don’t worry about the job you can or cannot get with an English degree, but rather focus on your time in class and (when appropriate) try to boil down what you learn and see where it applies. You would be surprised at how much you have learned that doesn’t directly relate to Garret Deasey’s delusion in Ulysses or Iago’s deception in Othello.