What can you do with a BA in English? According to the similarly-worded Avenue Q song, and my piss-taking friend who jokingly brands my subject as ‘lightweight’, not a lot. But is it really a valid claim that undertaking a degree might not actually lead to getting a well-paid job? Now I don’t know about you, but after acquiring a sizable debt in order to fund a degree, the many hours I will have spent in Eddy B by my final year, and the traumatic University experience of being ‘picked as a drinking mate’ by a six foot rugby player in ‘Ring of Fire’, I really want my degree to be worth something. Yet if you read certain newspapers, you will see scaremongering tales that doubt this; arguing that many students end up generating huge debts in order to get a degree but will struggle to gain decent jobs after graduation.
True, in the current economic climate, gaining a prestigious job may seem as competitive as a race between the TOWIE girls for a free vajazzle, but surely a decent degree from a quality university such as this one should go some way as to helping Leeds students attain that desirable first job. According to many media sources, this is not enough. Graduates must ‘stand out’ in order to withstand the competition. But how should we go about this? Dressing up as Tony the Tiger, exclaiming: “I’m grrrrreat!” so as to attain a job as a manager at Kellogg’s? Probably not, that’s silly. Creating a short film to supplement a CV for a technological position? That’s a better idea. It has often been stated that completing varied work experience is a good way of standing out. If we, as students make an effort to ‘stand out’ in this way, I see no reason why we shouldn’t get a decent job at the end of our student years.
Okay, so landing a dream role straightaway might be a little ambitious. For some careers, unpaid placements could be the first step onto the careers ladder. But having to undergo further training or placements after graduation needn’t mean that doing a degree was pointless. In fact, in the current climate, internships may be the key to getting a variety of worthwhile jobs. So I’m going to ignore the cynics, and continue applying for work experience in the hope that the combination of having experience and an impending degree will help me to get a valuable job in two years time. And I’m going to continue doing what I enjoy: writing. At least then, instead of worrying about what I can do with a BA in English, I can write about the possibilities of what to do with a BA in English. Much better.