Ask anyone who has studied English to tell you their worst nightmare, and it will probably go along the lines of this: “what are you going to do with an English degree?”
This question has plagued me, and many others, throughout my time in college. With the responses we get, you would think that we are majoring in squirrel studies! However, a degree in English is extremely valuable to a future career. It teaches essential skills in reading, writing, and critical thinking. Learning from language and literature prepares students for just about any career path. The question is, which path to choose?
Determined to find my own career path last spring, I applied to an internship with the Kansas Department of Labor (KDOL). For years, I had considered government a possible fit for me. But, I wanted to be sure first. The plan was to begin after the end of the semester. However, the COVID-19 pandemic threw a wrench in those plans, and I started in June 2020.
I started my time with KDOL as an intern in the communications department. My duties included: creation of a departmental newsletter, assisting in writing press releases, and managing social media. As an intern in communications during a pandemic that caused millions of Kansans to lose their jobs, I had to speak with some understandably upset people. This was something that I had never really had experience with in the past. Certainly, it was difficult at first, but I am grateful for the fact that I was able to learn those essential people skills.
One thing that I loved about KDOL was the flexibility. After my internship concluded in the summer, they offered for me to continue in the fall. Although I knew that my skills were more in writing, I wanted to try something new. So, I began working with the Labor Market Information department. I worked less with people and more with data: creating and maintaining spreadsheets, determining a list of the best professions in Kansas, and assisting in editing the economic report. I was so thankful that I was able to try something new.
My internship at the Kansas Department of Labor taught me that you are not just limited to writing as an English major. In fact, I would say that I enjoyed my time more in Labor Market Information than in communications. I am very grateful for the opportunities that KDOL has given me.
So, for all you English students out there — don’t limit yourself just to reading and writing. There is so much that you can do! Feel free to explore and seek out those opportunities. I was surprised by how much my experience as an English major prepared me for working with numbers. Don’t be afraid to try something new!
— Kinsley Searles (BA ’23)