I have written another post about career choices after BA, MA, BA & MA, & PhD in English literature. However, that post was not precise. I took a rather comprehensive approach in that article. However, in this post, I will write in detail about career options for those who have completed BA in English literature or English honours course. There are many instances when a student would like to begin a career rather than pursuing a higher degree after completing a BA in English literature. There might be arguments in favour and against this decision. However, if you are determined to start your career right after your BA, here are the options (with detailed analysis) that you should explore.
Begin instantly career options:
Content writer: Though it is not a prerequisite to have a literature degree to become a content writer, an English literature honours degree certainly gives you an edge over others when it comes to producing content – literary, general, journalistic or any kind of it. An employer will also give you preference over other candidates with other degrees given you prove that you have an understanding of writing styles, techniques and you can create unique, engaging and ‘quickly ranking’ content. There are a few companies that train their employees in technical aspects of content. However, if you can gather knowledge about SEO, blogging platforms like WordPress, social media platforms and basic content promotion, Google (and other search engines) ranks and their use then you are a very ideal candidate to be picked for a content writing job.
Personal (Individual) Blogger: Yes, you can do it! You can do it in distinguished ways and create more traffic on your website compared to other bloggers because you should understand what attracts contemporary readers, what social causes they associate with, what makes them curious and what can keep them engaged for the long term. Literature teaches you the art of identifying social causes, social concerns and changes that are happening either rapidly or eventually. Find your interest area and start writing about one particular theme, idea, concern, cause or any particular object, ideology, subject or just ‘anything singular’. Writing about one certain thing gives you authority (in the long run) and your blog or website becomes an authority domain in that field. Eventually, you will be consulted (as a blogger) if anyone wants to have more information about the thing you write. You can become an education blogger, fashion blogger, motor blogger, electronic blogger, philosophical blogger, yoga blogger, physical fitness blogger, political blogger… anything that you like. Earning potential depends upon the traffic that comes to your website. It might take a few months (or years) depending upon the number of blogs you produce and the quality of your content. If you are doing everything right, you should see enough progress within 3-4 months. You can run Google ads, become an Amazon affiliate, Flipkart affiliate, affiliate with any particular seller or company to make money. There is no limit to what you can earn. Yes, once again, everything depends on how many you write and what quality you deliver as well as how convincing your content is! Guys with an English honours degree do have an edge as they have read the best literary pieces and so, it is evident, they should have a good vocabulary, persuasive writing skills, good imagination and power of thoughts. Use everything and earn!
Editor, Translator, Interpreter: Editor jobs are for those who can write well and read better than they write. It requires dexterity in the English language. However, an English literature degree plays its role in shaping your understanding of sentence structure. You read the best and you learn the necessary skills from the writers who have been famous worldwide. So, you can become an editor for a publishing company, digital content website, academic website and so on. A translator also needs expertise in the English language as well as in Hindi or any language that one wants to translate English content or vice-versa. Many companies hire translators regularly and your degree can certainly get you more attention. An interpreter is someone who helps a person (mostly VIP) with communication instantly. You must have seen cabinet ministers from various countries visiting India with their interpreters. They make one’s communication as effective as someone native communicating with another native of a language. There are also various add-on courses or diplomas that can help you in pursuing these career options with more focus.
Journalist, Columnist, Digital Reporter: Yes, you can also become a journalist with your BA degree in English literature. You can get trained or even acquire a degree in journalism to further boost your career in this field. However, if you want to start your career right away as a journalist, you can start by applying to media houses with your writing samples. Though you should keep in mind that journalistic writing is way different from blogging or content writing. There are certain journalistic ethics (who follows these days?), channel or media house policies and some personal morality that you need to follow. If you have astute writing skill and a good understanding of events and some ways to extract information from behind the scenes, you can easily become a journalist for digital news websites. They want content. You give content. You want money. They pay money. Though being a columnist comes at later stages, you can try your luck and taste yourself by sending the best pieces, generally long or as per the space requirements, to newspaper editors. If you are lucky (and fit their ‘criteria’), who knows you can be next Chetan Bhagat (joking… don’t be a Chetan Bhagat).
Tutor, Online teacher, literature teacher – Though you might need a BEd degree to teach in school, you can teach (if you really want and are capable of doing so) students up to class 12 and help them understand literature better. You can join a coaching centre. You can start your own coaching centre. You can start teaching online (this is what works today in the pandemic situation). Do remember that teaching is a very responsible profession and you need to deliver the best. Simplify the concerns that your students have. Make them understand poems and prose works described in their syllabus. Help them develop an interest in literature. You can earn a good amount in the beginning as well as multiply it as time progresses.
Specialisation and Career Ahead:
MA + PhD & becoming a literature professor: This is the most common route (and also a dream) that many students who complete an English Literature honours degree want to pursue. This is logical as well. If you specialise in understanding literature, it comes to specialising in making others understand literature. An MA will give you further depth in your understanding of literature and a PhD will give you an authority on the field of your choice in English literature. Use these two to make space for yourself in any academic institution and start teaching literature students. This pays off well and this also gives you an opportunity to further invest yourself deeply in literature with regular studies, paper writing, independent research work and book writings. Who knows how far can you lead yourself with these activities? Well, you need to patient because getting a PhD degree takes time, constant and sincere effort and, at times, social hubris (kitna padhega aur? koi job lele). Also, I am openly warning those students against an MA and PhD who cannot develop an interest in literature beyond reading books even after completion of their Bachelors. If you couldn’t see beyond written words in these three years, perhaps you are not fit for a deep study in English literature and you should begin working in your desired field and start making a living.
Anything + Anything and a career in any field of your choice: If you are determined to do something with your career and you really want to achieve your goal, there is nothing that can stop you. Yes, I said that. You can do an MBA after your BA in English literature. You can also do a bank job after your BA. You can also become an IAS or IPS officer after your BA. Career choices, in the age of digital revolution and entrepreneurship, does not end with the selection of a particular course or completion of the same. The most famous entrepreneurs in the world are perhaps college dropouts and yet they could create something because they wanted to create – that’s it. What do you want to create? What do you want to become? What do you want to achieve? People have also started taking politics as a career option. You can venture into that field as well…
Career options only if you have courage, creativity and shamelessness:
Propagandist: You read it right. I have said it as bluntly as I could. The career options, this one and more to come below, are for those who can be shameless, courageous and creative. A propagandist is a gun for hire who will bat for anyone, anything, any ideology if paid well. Chetan Bhagat, if you observe him carefully, is an example of this career. Prashant Kishore is another. Some news anchors and some newspaper columnists are more examples. You have to spin a web (or many webs) of narrative to support the person (or organisation or even a government) who pays you. You can call this profession by many names – I have chosen the one that’s brutally honest. You need to have good analytical skills, historical sense and perspectives, writing skills, creativity to make catchy headlines and ideas for instantly striking images and videos. You can call it, in the white-collar world, image-architect, brand manager, reputation manager, PR strategist and so on… How does your English honours degree come in handy? You have imagination because you read poets like Coleridge and Keats. You have a sense of detail because you read and understood Eliot. You have a historical sense and perspective because you read scholars who recorded the history of English literature. It pays really well! With experience and results you can bring, you can get bungalows, cars, real estate, money in offshore accounts and so on.
Author, Poet, Critic or Intellectual: Yes, shamelessness is required here as well. You have to compromise the basic literary sensibilities and ethics and produce the works of literature that ‘sell’ or ‘fuel’ controversies or objectify women and promote sexual fantasies. If you want to become an objective, literary, scholarly and true writer, poet or critic, forget it. You cannot earn enough to get yourself going. Becoming an intellectual is very easy. You have to take a side (communists or leftists pay well), choose your target using your assessments for the beginning and start character assassination, fake news bombardment, ridiculing and criticising everything associated with that person, abusing, ranting, slandering and everything and anything that you know. Once you get into the limelight, you will be accepted into the fold of the uncalled, unnamed and untamed superpower. You will start realising the perks eventually. It’s a smoother way to success and more money but it certainly takes the soul out of your body!
There are many career choices that you can make. There are many things that you can do. There is nothing that you cannot do. However, some prefer logical and generally accepted paths and others try to do things differently. In today’s world, a degree does not make you great or small. All that it takes – your ambition coupled with an aim that’s rational, logical and possibly successful in future based on your assumptions, calculations and risk-reward assessments. Do you see? Crafting a career is in your hands! Start today and become tomorrow!
Written by Alok Mishra for the English Literature Education platform
Alok Mishra is the founder of this platform. ELE exists solely to distribute free literary notes, study materials and examination guides. It also shapes literary opinions and new perspectives. Alok is also the founder of BookBoys PR and co-founder of Ashvamegh Publication, editor-in-chief of Ashvamegh Magazine and a literary critic associated with many literary platforms. He is also an author of three books including two recent poetry collections – Moving for Moksha and 13 Untitled and Weird Poems.