English Degrees and You!

By Jarod Davis

The Opportunities an English Major Provides

Getting an English degree in college is often met with skepticism. Frequently people will question the value of an English degree and whether or not it’s useful upon entering the workforce. However, there are several job opportunities and accolades for obtaining such a degree. It’s not just writing or editing, obtaining an English degree is nothing to scoff at. So we here at the HAC media team decided to sit down and talk with our very own HAC department professor and advisor, Dr. Sarah Franzen, to discuss her English degrees.

Dr. Franzen has B.A. in English, an M.S. in Education, and a Ph.D. in Literature and Criticism. With her degrees, she holds many important leadership roles not only for the HAC department but also for accreditation at Trine. She is an associate professor for the HAC department, dean of Trine’s Jannen School of Arts and Sciences, and assistant vice president of accreditation at Trine. Last semester she was named assistant vice president of accreditation, so we asked her to elaborate on accreditation and how her degrees work in tandem with this new position.

“Accreditation is a very important thing…it involves reading policies, very carefully, and then telling a story. Any report that you write, any branch, any accreditation document is basically taking all of the little bits and pieces that make an institution and putting that into a narrative that somebody else can understand,” Franzen stated.

Dr. Franzen essentially has the responsibility to tell the narrative of several schools here at Trine and making sure, through her writing, that the schools are following accreditation standards. This is especially important when translating to others the accomplishments Trine has achieved.

“I don’t know that there is any degree that I could have gone through than English to learn how to do that,” said Franzen.

It’s often a misconception that having an English major involves just writing and editing. We asked Dr. Franzen on where an English degree can take you. She mentioned that she has seen English majors take the legal profession as a career path or take a path among the non-profit sector, specifically in arts and culture. There was also a mention of her brother-in-law who works for a publisher, not as a writer, but as a brand manager.

“[My brother-in-law] does focus groups, looks at sales numbers, and thinks about how do we position this brand and market that brand across the country,” said Franzen.

 As our interview continued, a big emphasis on the narrative really showed how valuable having an English degree is and why it’s so useful.

“Fundamentally understanding how stories work and how people leverage them and how they can be leveraged makes you valuable, especially when looking at a world that is really focused on stem… we are making decisions about which technological institutions we fund based on stories...I think that any institution is only good as the story that they tell, and an English major trains you to do that,” Franzen stated.

Finally, we talked about what advice Dr. Franzen had for someone interested in an English degree.

“I would say one, don’t believe the hype, don’t believe there isn’t anything you can do with it. The second thing I can say is only do it if you love it,” said Franzen.

Franzen also recommends to think about how your skills can be useful in the world and to explore different disciplines. Applying what you know to your writing helps you stand out and branch off in different directions.

Dr. Franzen is a great example of all the opportunities and paths you can take with an English degree. Telling narratives is a powerful skill that is seen in every aspect of our lives. The ability to learn that with an English degree is valuable, and where you go with it depends on how you want to approach the world with it.