Imagine the scene: You’re sitting in a room full of your friends who have degrees in things like computer science, electrical engineering, chemistry and pre-med. Everyone is singing songs from the Lonely Island, Toto, Miley Cyrus and Meatloaf (because your friends are awesome, but you’re all also sort of weird).
Suddenly, one of the future docs shouts out a new song request and the computer science guys second the motion. The Avenue Q soundtrack (some lyrics NSFW) is YouTubed and the doc starts in on a pitch perfect rendition of these lyrics:
What do you do with a BA in English
What is my life going to be
Four years of college and plenty of knowledge
Have earned me this useless degree
Slowly the computer science guys join in:
I can’t pay the bills yet
‘Cause I have no skills yet
The world is a big scary place
But somehow I can’t shake
The feeling I might make
To the human race
And there you sit – the only person in the room with a BA in English.
I laughed. How can’t you? The song is great and it’s not a stereotype I haven’t heard before.
But it also got me thinking – What do you do with a BA in English?
Excuse me for being crass, but I think the answer to that (and the normal tone of voice it’s asked in) is “Whatever you damn well please.”
Do you know what I have done since I received my degree?
I’ve been a journalist; public relations specialist; marketer; programmer; web designer; content editor; video editor; director; script writer; lighting specialist; photographer; producer; and blogger.
And that’s just what I’ve done.
My classmates are doing pretty great things as well: they’re saleswomen at Groupon, working for Congressmen, accepting people into college as admissions counselors, getting law degrees, fund raising for breast cancer research, and, yes, some of them are even teachers.
A BA in English doesn’t mean that you won’t get a job. It doesn’t mean you aren’t ever going to repay your student loans. And it definitely doesn’t mean that you don’t have any skills.
People with a BA in English have analytical skills and — most importantly — we can write.
We can tell you that the last line of the song “What Do You Do With a BA in English?” is written in iambic tetrameter.
We know how to tell a story, which benefits any sort of marketing, public relations or sales position.
We know the importance of real sentences in correspondence – aka we dont tlk lk were on fb all the time.
We understand the importance of communication among ourselves, our customers and our clients.
We have the ability to parse something down to its simplest form, but we can also write something as grandiose as possible and it will still make sense.
We can adequately put our thoughts down on paper and explain things in detail.
In short, we can do whatever we want.
So the next time I’m sitting in a room full of future doctors and computer science guys and they start to sing songs from Avenue Q, I’ll sing along and then let them know that I’m doing a hell of a lot with my BA in English