Your future after graduating with an English/CW major: you can’t foretell it, but you can take steps to shape it. Spring break is a good time to take care of some of the career-planning details that get shoved aside during the semester.
First thing EVERYONE can do is put our upcoming career-planning events on their calendars. After that…
If you’re not headed to grad school and you haven’t yet gone to talk to Kirstin Wilcox, Director of Internships, about your job-search strategy, email her to set up an appointment! Even if you’re terrified and have no resume, much less a plan, come see her anyway. Doing something works better than doing nothing, and it’s a place to start.
- Create or tidy up your LinkedIn profile. Employers will stalk you online, so give them something to find that shows off your strengths. Be sure to upload a professionally appropriate photo and try to devise a headline that showcases your work experience or talents (NOT “Student at the University of Illinois”).
- Line up your writing samples. Many jobs that English/CW majors excel at require a writing sample. What that means, specifically, varies from job to job. Some employers just want to know that you can write a graceful sentence, some want evidence that you can write for a non-academic audience, yet others want to know that you can tell a story or craft believable dialogue. Depending on what you’re applying for, consider using a short, well-argued academic paper, the strongest piece you’ve written for a CW class, links to online writing you’ve done, or pieces that you’ve created for an organization you’re part of (flyers, instructions, press releases, etc.
- Try out some different formats for your resume. Your resume should NOT be a static, one-size-fits-all document. Every opening you apply for should elicit a different resume, one that advertises the specific background and experience you have that qualifies you for the particular job.
- Spend some time on I-Link and other jobs databases finding what’s out there. Some others that English/CW majors find helpful are indeed.com, bookjobs.com, and idealist.org.
- Start networking. “Networking” is an intimidating concept, but it doesn’t have to be. Who do you know who would be willing to talk to you about what they do for a living and whether it might be something you want to do? Start there! Not sure how to contact someone you’d like to speak to? Use our template to get started.
- Get to know I-Link and start checking it regularly to learn more about the kinds of jobs you’d like to apply for. (Pro-tip: use the “Advanced Search” window in “I-Link Jobs,” but refrain from typing into the search bar; instead use the “Industry” and “Position type” pull-down menus to focus your search.
- Look and apply for a summer internship.
- Select a campus publication or an RSO to get involved in, preferably one that can give you leadership experience.
- Plan to sign up for the Alumni Mentoring Network and find an alumni mentor when you get back to campus.