Last Friday, I had a phone interview with two representatives for a contract job at Beth Israel hospital. My consultant at the temp agency I work for had sent in my resume that Monday and the next day Beth Israel asked for references. Then, once all my references responded, they asked for a phone interview. I was psyched.
Long story short: I bombed it.
That’s my own fault. Phone interviews have always been a weakness for me (funny thing coming from an introvert, isn’t it?). I need to work on that. But during the call, one of the interviewers said:
“Is temp work all you could get?”
Maybe she hadn’t meant it to come off as rude, but her tone suggested otherwise. I told her the truth: in the months following my graduation in 2016, I struggled to find work. I sent out resumes and even scored a few interviews. Aside from not getting a response at all, the final answer was commonly “we’re looking for someone with more experience.”
Even RETAIL proved to be a problem. I got turned down for a job at Bath & Body Works. My first real job as a Magna Cum Laude college graduate was in women’s shoes at Macy’s, and the store I worked at closed four months later when HQ in New York made the executive decision to close chains around the country after Amazon kicked their butts at Christmas.
In college, I was an English major concentrating in creative writing with a double minor in Communications and Women & Gender Studies. Even as a freshman, I knew the job market was not entirely promising for me when I graduated. But I never regretted my degree. And here’s why:
1. I was not good at subjects with promised jobs.
Having failed math and science throughout my twelve years in public school, I knew careers like nursing and engineering were off the table for me. Education might have been an option—I was told I would be a good teacher. Only that requires some knowledge of math and science, too, especially if I went down the elementary school route.
But the real reason I decided not to pursue a teaching degree is because of my overall disdain of school politics. The powers that be in the educational system care more about test scores than whether or not the students are actually learning anything.
2. I built on what I was good at.
An English degree allowed me to do what I loved most—reading—and build on what I am good at—writing. Writing is something I am not only good at, but I have a passion for. Four years in college, I produced work I am still proud of to this day, including an 84-page novella I wrote my freshman year and a one-act play that Curry College’s theater students performed in the 2016 New Plays Festival.
I was encouraged to keep writing after graduation. I started a book blog, where I review books I read and do a lot of fun bookish posts. All of you currently reading this article on Odyssey’s website are graced with my entertaining writing skills because I chose to study English.
Writing itself is severely underappreciated. You have to send emails to your bosses and co-workers, right? How do you think you’re going to look to your employer if you send him or her an email filled with typos spell check ignored and you were too lazy to actually do the spell check yourself?
My English degree also gave me the ability to explore new ideas, build on old ones, and explain my opinions in an eloquent way that a professor once told me: “I disagreed with everything you said, but you are very persuasive.” I would never have found that if I had never said “screw you” to being practical.
3. I was happy and my grades showed it.
High school did not go well for me. By my senior year of high school, the book club I was a member of was disbanded and English electives were gone. When I was applying to colleges, my parents didn’t seem to pay too much attention to what I chose to study. Dad was more worried about me getting into a school, while Mom was more preoccupied with me getting a yearbook and a class ring and going to prom.
Then, a year later, the final grades for my first semester of college came in and I got a B in math — the first time ever in my life. In fact, throughout my whole college career, I got only three Cs.
You could say I was a good student, which I was, but there was more to it than that. I was happy. Not only was I making friends, I was doing something I loved. I was excited to go to my English classes, even if it meant analyzing Beowulf or The Communist Manifesto. I was letting out my creativity through writing.
4. So many people I knew pursued “practical” and they were unhappy.
Many of you probably experienced this yourselves in college, or you know someone that did. I can’t tell you how many times I heard: “My parents would have killed me if I didn’t do something practical.” More often than not, people nowadays choose their degrees based on what their family wants or what they think will score a job after graduation. Throughout those four years, most were probably miserable.
Newsflash: if you wanted a guaranteed job after graduation, you should have gone to trade school.
5. I studied what I love and it helped me set the path I am meant to be on.
Reading and writing is what makes me happy. I could have been a teacher. I could have gone into something in the health and wellness field. I could have done something technological. But I doubt I would have been nearly as happy or have found my true calling in life.
If there wasn’t the pesky matter of not wanting to live with my parents forever, I would absolutely devote myself to writing. Unfortunately, I will have to contradict everything I just ranted about in this article and agree with practical. I admit that not everyone is J.K. Rowling. But my decision to go graduate school to get my Master’s in Library and Information Science is rooted in my English degree. I love books and literature enough to make it a part of my life as much as I can.