Uncategorized | October 18, 2012

*today’s blog comes to us via Carly Dyer who will graduate with an English degree in May 2013 from the University of Missouri. She has never read Infinite Jest, enjoys eating Humboldt Fog cheese, and watching trashy television.*

presumably, Texas

While visiting my hometown of Sugar Land, Texas during this past summer’s break, an acquaintance who happened to be getting her hair bleached while I was getting a trim, inquired of my plans following my final year at the University of Missouri. I went for my script explaining that a precious year off would lead to applying for MFA programs, probably focusing on creative nonfiction. “Well isn’t that the same thing as journalism?” she asked, snorting at the unconcerned hairdresser. “How long will you have to live at home before you become the voice of your generation?” Simply shrugging my shoulders, it became apparent that the fight was not worth having, and I left the unfortunate run-in feeling rather lukewarm. Truth be told, I am an English major because I like to read, simple as that. I figured that as the years of study progressed, fields of work would show themselves to me and I would just have to choose.

hypothetical English major/ intern

There is nothing ground breaking or even interesting in discussing the economy or rather, the lack of jobs. On any given day at any given area on campus, conversations involving not being able to find work or being forced to move home to coddle and hide away from the big, scary, real world are constantly taking place. And this, of course, is the issue that seems to define our generation – being groomed to do something that does not lead anywhere. Students of English, in particular, struggle with this impending doom with nervous chuckles drenched in a lack of certainty. Per usual, the first profession others assume we will take on is teaching. But even after the competitiveness and endless hours of work in graduate programs, highly educated students still struggle to scavenge jobs, especially in desirable locations.

After having considered teaching for quite some time I began to think about getting into publishing, which is apparently not something that one just gets into. After a disheartening discussion with one of my professors regarding futures in publishing, I discovered that there are thousands of fresh, soon to be college graduates who are just as or more accomplished than I am. So now I am facing the options of unpaid internships and competitive publishing programs that might lead to interviews that might lead to terrible paying jobs if I happen to be persistent and lucky enough. See where I’m going here? Just like many of my fellow English students, I am plagued by loving a subject that leads to few and, more often than not, unappealing “opportunities”. Choosing a route for the future is like choosing a politician to vote for—the person you dislike the least.

A picture I found when I googled “practicality vs. passion”

We are given these prescribed methods to success involving either following one’s passions or taking a more pragmatic route that will surely lead to comfort. This dilemma arises in that each one of these options has its pros and cons and we are therefore asked to decide what we hold value in. Many say that they don’t care for material wealth, that doing something they are passionate about is all they need to be happy. But this does not often accompany financial stability/comfort. On the other hand, some find that material wealth brings them great happiness, but this is not without sacrifice. The real choice, for most of us, comes down to struggling in order to pursue something we love, or abandoning these things, often placing them in our hobby boxes, and finding more practical jobs. I just want to read and nosh on goat cheese and crackers all day.

career option #1 for a “soon to be” writer

Whether English is your area of study, or if it is humanities or a foreign language, employment opportunities are dwindling, leaving a sour aftertaste. This brings me to the sentiment that I’d assume every college student comes to eventually, wondering what is the point of continuing if it’s not going to lead anywhere? Should we all go backpacking through Europe? Why not just get out, get a job (possibly at a family member’s place of work) and get on with it, trying to live as financially comfortable as possible until we can send our own children to school, expecting them to do something more productive with their degrees? If no one else ever comes to this feeling then I am a failure and I didn’t even know it. But surely, I have to hope, that this fate will not befall unto me if I keep at it long enough. Maybe everyone else will quit and there will be jobs a plenty left for the last remaining few, right?

Fingers crossed.