Careers 101: English Literature in the US
Written by: Barah
Since I was young, I have loved reading and writing. I definitely thank my parents for this love; they always encouraged me and my siblings to read and write. It was a part of our daily lives. As kids, we were given multiple books on different topics to read, and then, after reading and understanding them, we were expected to write a small paragraph about the book and what we thought of it. This taught us not only how to read and write correctly, it also built our confidence to voice our opinions. My mother has a box filled with all my “gifts” of mini scrapbooks, poems, and pieces I wrote for her; it also included a lot of art, from paintings to hand made cards!
You see, when I was in middle school I took my language classes (Arabic and English) very seriously because I knew I wanted to do something in the language arts. I entered many writing competitions and won a good number of them. In grade 7, a classmate and I collaborated to write a book–she drew the pictures and I wrote the dialogue. We printed at least 50 copies and sold almost all of them for a fundraiser for our school. I also entered all the library’s summer reading programs and always reached the end, where I won the gift and was given a free book. I read for fun as a child. Trying to tear me away from a book was almost impossible! I didn’t just love to read–I also loved giving my opinion on writing styles, character development, etc. It was always important for me to give my opinion because that’s what writing is all about: letting others know what you think and what you believe in.
As university approached I already knew what I wanted to do. I wanted to teach/become a writer. I wanted to teach English literature to be exact. And I knew studying it would be helpful for both teaching and my career in writing. With that in mind, I entered the education program at my university. I completed the first two years of the program, but then my life took an unexpected turn and I decided to change majors. I left the program and decided to pursue psychology and English literature. And, well, being the indecisive person I am, I went back and changed again to just English literature, and I knew that was the path I wanted to take. Be it writing or teaching, I could do it with a degree in this field.
What I’m doing today
I like to think of myself as someone who’s got a lot of potential because I love to learn. Education never truly ends. I love exploring my options, trying new things, and being someone who can do just about anything. When I finished my B.A., I considered higher education, but with time I realized I don’t need to get a master’s degree to become a writer or even to teach. I later found a website I could be a private tutor on; I worked with so many people to help them improve their writing, English, and Arabic (my Arabic background came from living overseas for 8 years and teaching at multiple Sunday schools, as well as from taking Arabic classes in university).
After teaching, I slowly started building my own website and keeping an active portfolio as I tried to find my way through the writing world. While working on this website, I found myself wanting to learn how to make my website exclusive to me and customize it in ways that were way beyond the themes that were provided by the host I was using. That’s when I took some courses in web design. And that opened a whole new world to me that I had no idea I enjoyed! Later I found myself grabbing my husband’s camera and really getting creative with taking photos; that’s when I decided to put more time into photography. I purchased Lightroom and Photoshop and taught myself how to edit my photos. I began doing photography on the side. I also taught myself how to crochet, knit, cross stich, paint, and just so much more from the arts and craft world. If you give me equipment, I can assure you I can teach myself how to become a pro at it. I like to think it’s one of my greatest talents!
Do I regret going into a degree that didn’t have a huge working opportunity? No. Why? Because it has taught me so much; not just about writing, but about people and their history and lives. I have educated myself so much with this degree and I’m happy I pursued it.
Now, my life is going through a huge change; and I’m thinking of taking a whole new career path. But it will definitely take some time to get there, and since I’m already doing what I’ve always wanted to do–write–it’s okay. Things taking time was never a problem with me; because I believe great things come with time.