What Can I Do With an English Major?

An English major has many different pathways to success. Below are just a few examples of what recent graduates have done with their English majors. 


Alyssa Jerde

BA English Writing and Language/Literature
Paralegal, Breneman, Weber & Wirtz and attending William Mitchell College of Law

I graduated Magna Cum Laude from Winona State University in May 2013, where I double-majored in English: Literature and Language and English: Writing, with a minor study in Applied and Professional Writing. The most important skill I took away from studying English was the ability to write and communicate effectively. These skills are imperative to my work as a paralegal and as a law student at William Mitchell College of Law.

Legal writing differs in many respects to the writing I did as an undergraduate. Even so, as an English major, I learned how to write in many different modes with a specific audience in mind. I learned how to use language to elicit a certain mood in my reader. I learned the importance of careful reading, research and attention to detail. I learned the importance of finding—and keeping—your voice present in your writing.

These days, I’m not writing creative non-fiction, short stories or poetry, but I’m still writing every single day. I don’t think I could have picked a better field of study to prepare me for doing what I love.


Jenna Gleisner

BA English Writing
Editor, Red Line Editorial

After graduation, I went on to intern for a children’s nonfiction book producer and publisher here in Minnesota. From there, I pursued a career in editing and book production and have been authoring, editing and producing children’s nonfiction for the library market for the past two years.

In addition to the researching and writing that goes into authoring, I work with authors on concept design and developmental edits to make sure our books meet Common Core standards. Also involved in the editorial stages are photo research, communications with outside fact checkers and content consultants.

I’m fortunate to work with a small company, so the editorial and design staffs work fairly closely to collaborate on projects and produce some pretty great books!


Jo Oltman

BA English Writing
Marketing Manager, Cambridge Seven Associates

Working as Marketing Manager at Cambridge Seven Associates, an architectural and exhibit design firm in Cambridge, Massachusetts, has shown me how important the skills I developed in the WSU English Department have been for furthering my career. In fact, when I applied for the position back in 2008, it was down to me and one other candidate, and the final decision was reached based on a sample of my writing.

My job includes writing, editing and graphic design for proposals, project sheets, ads and award submissions, as well as supporting C7A’s marketing and business development efforts by helping the architects and exhibit designers with conference abstracts, coordinating with the press to promote our work and managing the firm’s social media.

I am also grateful that attending WSU was such a bargain because I will pay off my college loan at the end of the month.


Justin Hiniker

BA English Writing
Disability Resource Coordinator, Colorado State University

Earning a degree in English holds a lot of value for me. The classes helped me to develop strong analytical and research skills as well as a deeper appreciation for diverse people and cultures, and gave me opportunities to write technical copy, fiction and literary analyses.

My career involves providing accommodations to disabled students attending a small Hispanic-serving university. An education in English has prepared me to serve as a compassionate and knowledgeable advocate, coach and resource for students, and a skilled negotiator to remove barriers to participation in academic and co-curricular programming.


Sara Barba

BA English Creative Writing
MA in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages
Teaching applied linguistics at Seattle Pacific University.

Sara graduated from Winona State with a BA in English (Writing) and eventually went on to earn her MA in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL). She is currently teaching applied linguistics at Seattle Pacific University. Before she landed in Washington, however, she served as an English teacher in a small coal-mining town in Ukraine through the Peace Corps. She has also had experience through volunteer opportunities and internships, including magazine editing, teaching English as a second language to adults and refugees, and tutoring writing.

Like many other college students, she delved into a wide variety of different types of work before landing where she is now. Sara says the English Department at WSU was a great influence in guiding her to deciding what she wanted to do with her education: “In the years I spent at Winona State, the English Department became my home away from home. It was a place that inspired critical thinking skills, encouraged self-reflection, nurtured meaningful relationships and fostered creativity.”

Sara says the broad skillset she has acquired throughout her career has been beneficial to her in a variety of ways. “Strategies I learned as an English student and from my experience teaching helped me to grow as both a language learner and as a teacher.”