It’s an exciting time for the U-M English Department! Our 500+ faculty, graduate students, majors and minors constitute a dynamic community of readers, writers and researchers. The department’s strength was reflected in this year’s U.S. News and World Report, which ranked our graduate program eighth nationally, tied with Cornell, Harvard, Princeton and Yale.
Still, these are challenging times for the liberal arts and for English departments across the country. Parents, students, legislators, and many in the media are questioning the value of an English degree, especially with respect to its earnings potential and vocational “usefulness.” Such questions have arisen despite clear evidence of English majors’ success in a wide range of meaningful and challenging careers, including and beyond those traditionally associated with education, publishing, law, and the media.
Why we conducted a survey?
The gap in understanding among our constituencies about the value of a Michigan liberal arts degree in general, and of an English degree in particular, reflects a lack of data about the experience of our graduates as they leave U-M, enter the workforce, and progress in their careers. With that in mind, we enlisted the help of our 15,000+ living U-M English alumni in determining how majoring in English has shaped our students’ professional trajectories. More specifically, our aims were to:
- Capture the range of careers our graduates pursue
- Understand how majoring in English has affected graduates’ success in their careers
- Solicit ideas on how best to help students for continued success beyond graduation
The survey will also advance our efforts to help students connect what they are learning in the classroom to future career pursuits. In coordination with the College of LSA’s new Opportunity Hub, the Department has established its own student internship program and placed over 20 students in meaningful summer positions. We are actively seeking out new internship and shadowing opportunities for our students in the business and nonprofit sectors for 2019 and would welcome alumni assistance in identifying them.