What can I do with an English major?

If you’ve ever heard the question, what are you going to do with that, chances are you’re an English major, or a history major or maybe a philosophy or classics major.

You have to admit: it’s an important question — one that Wake Forest helps students answer with confidence as they meet with potential employers and learn how to talk about what talents they bring to the workplace.

While on-campus recruiting has declined nationwide in the last ten years, Wake Forest’s fall career fair featured more than 80 employers hiring across all academic majors. From sports (Charlotte Hornets) to banking (BB&T) to healthcare (Novant) to the arts (RiverRun International Film Festival), the networking and career exploration opportunities available at the college career fair are unparalleled.


“There are many companies at the fair students have never heard of that may be a great fit for their skills and their personal goals,” says Mercy Eyadiel, who oversees employer experiences at Wake Forest. “Students can talk with employers about the organization’s culture and the kind of work available, asking about all opportunities in a company, not just what the recruiter is looking for that day. At no other time in life are so many organizations in one place at the same time and available for questions and conversations.”

To help students prepare, the Office of Personal and Career Development (OPCD) offers a career fair mobile app for a jumpstart in gathering background information on employers and prepping for informal onsite interviews. Before the event, a pre-career fair workshop offers tips on personal pitches and appropriate dress.

A commitment to employer relations

With a group of ten people focused solely on building strong relationships with recruiters —Wake Forest’s employer relations team is more than double the size of most of the University’s peer institutions.

With a centralized employer relations office, there is one point of contact to meet all the needs a recruiter may have. “This is unique in higher education,” says Employer Experience Manager Dana Hutchens. “Most universities have separate career offices for working with separate programs: business school, liberal arts, or graduate arts & sciences. Wake Forest is a one-stop shop. We have one unified team working to support employers who are looking for Wake Forest talent, regardless of program..”

Having one office that works on behalf of all students means Wake Forest employer relations specialists can talk with organizations about their hiring goals and represent every academic program at the University.

Career coaches for every major

But while there is one centralized office for employer relations, there are seven OPCD career coaches who offer targeted career preparation for specific academic disciplines — often meeting with groups of students to make presentations on career options, offering individualized appointments and providing a point of contact for every student no matter what his or her major. Additionally there are two career coaches dedicated to students within the School of Business.

“Our students have an advocate,” says Eyadiel. “And they’re not career counselors. They’re coaches. Our team trains and conditions students, helping them set and meet their personal goals.”

For example, career coach Jessica Long, who supports English, communication and film students, is attuned to what prospects are open in traditional fields like teaching, journalism or the movie industry. Yet she broadens the options by suggesting ways skills learned in these disciplines are needed in nearly every workplace.

Long says employers recruit English majors for their problem solving, analytical thinking, and written and verbal communication skills. “These skills are needed in all industries from public relations and publishing to sales and banking. We focus on the big picture. Choosing a major is very different from choosing a career.”

“Employers are looking for talent above all else,” says Eyadiel, “When recruiters come to campus, they know they are getting a certain type of work ethic and conscientiousness that is part of a Wake Forest education, regardless of major.”

So what will you do with your English, humanities or chemistry major?

The University hosts more than 200 events each semester to support career exploration, education and recruiting activity. And, with millennials likely to have more than 20 different jobs in their lifetime, there are many choices ahead, not just the first one after graduation.

Categories: 2014 Highlights: OPCD, Admissions, For Parents, Personal and Career Development, Thrive / Wellbeing, Top Stories