BrightSparks Forum

Go Back   BrightSparks Singapore Scholarship & Higher Education Forum > Career Issues > Career Issues > Arts
Click Here if you forgot your password.

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 06-21-2009, 02:32 PM   #1
Charlie
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 3
Charlie has a neutral reputation
Default Degree in English - What are my options?

Howdy everybody. I'm currently serving NS, got my A's results this year. My grades are A C C and a C for GP. I got rejected by NUS FASS but accepted by SMU SS.

I've been looking into my options and was wondering if I could get some help from the folks around here. I am not particularly interested in social sciences. I accepted SMU's offer for the sake of keeping a place just in case. However I have always been interested in English Lit. It was the only subject I excelled in and enjoyed in school. I genuinely enjoy reading and exploring different literary genres and authors' work. I have been considering applying to the UK to do lit there.

However I am a little bit confused. Many people (myself included) have been telling me to do what I know I would enjoy in uni. I can see myself having a fun and fulfilling experience doing lit. But at the same time I have been told that the options available to an English/Lib arts graduate are not very varied, especially in Singapore. Limited to things like teaching and academics-related stuff. Could I have some input - what are the options available to me if I did decide to do english? I dont want to have the time of my life doing lit overseas only to come back and be unable to find a good/decent job, or be stuck doing something I'd be unhappy with.

Please excuse the longwinded-ness! Wont be able to reply soon because I'll be booking into camp, but please post whatever you think would help in the meantime! I need to submit my UK applications by the 30th of June, so dont have a lot of time. Really appreciate any help anyone has to offer.

Charlie is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-21-2009, 03:44 PM   #2
DukeBlue
Moderator
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: Singapore
Posts: 87
DukeBlue has a neutral reputation
Default

Hi Charlie,

I'm afraid you're right that an EngLit or liberal arts background is not very highly appreciated in Singapore (this is being discussed in another thread). It is mostly Western (esp US) companies and MNCs that appreciate the liberal arts background. Western companies tend to hire liberal arts people for management-tracks jobs because managers and executives need to have people skills and deep analytical ability--the two things a lib arts education provides. I myself, an EngLit major, will be working for a US MNC, albeit in their Singapore office.

Still, if you're studying overseas and if it's a reputable top-tier or even second-tier uni, you will have the opportunity to work overseas in aforesaid jobs. Then you can return to Singapore with work experience, making the EngLit background less of a handicap to you in the local job market.

Irrelevantly, I'm curious. You said you don't want to be "stuck doing something I'd be unhappy with." Yet you implied that you do not want to do "academic-related stuff" as a career. If you love EngLit, why not do EngLit as a career? Either as a professor, or research assistant/fellow, or librarian. Profs get paid quite well in Singapore, though of course it's hard to make it to that level.

My worldly wisdom is limited too, but here are some other ideas on what you could do with your EngLit background:
PR or corporate communications
Civil Service (don't laugh, there's a lot of writing involved!)
Freelance writer. Or novelist...any kind of paid writing, basically
Journalism (duh)
Work in a publising house/publishing company

Lastly, while you're at uni you'll see far more of the world than you do now, so your knowledge of the many jobs out there will improve. When that happens, you may find some job out there that fits you to a T. As it stands now, because your worldly knowledge is (understandably) limited, it is no surprise that you cannot think of a job that fits you well (and that you qualify for) yet. So while you are overseas, keep looking out there in the wide world for opportunities and jobs that may suit you decently, if not perfectly.
__________________
I am a volunteer moderator, not a BrightSparks employee. What I say is my own opinion.
Advice I give is based solely on my personal knowledge and life experience. Treat accordingly.
DukeBlue is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-27-2009, 01:08 AM   #3
simplysheena
Ambassador Candidate
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 7
simplysheena has a neutral reputation
Default

Hi Charlie!

I'm facing a similar problem as well so I do understand how you feel. English literature has always been my favourite subject at school and currently, I've resolved to pursue my interest and study a subject that I'm genuinely interested in in uni.

I've spoken to my scholarships counsellor about this matter and she has suggested a few career options that I could consider going into with a Bach of Arts/English degree. Since English is a broad coarse of study, literature graduates are sought after in a variety of fields. Adding on to all the jobs that have already been mentioned in the previous post, you might want to consider going into Human Resource, the Public Service (you could try working in MFA or MICA), working for MNCs, going on to study Law, undertaking professional research jobs for companies, going into social work, broadcasting, advertising etc. And of course, there is teaching which is, probably, the profession that is most relevant to the said course of study. Do consider teaching as it is (cliched as it may sound), a fulfilling and meaningful job with considerable work-life balance. Most importantly, it's not a desk-bound job (if you're really not into such things) and it's people-centred. I've seen how teachers inspire and enlighten, as well as touch the lives of students in seemingly imperceptible but highly signifiant ways. It is a difficult job which might not pay as well as a private sector career, but I'm sure that the rewards (when they do come, in the form of students taking an interest in the subject, gaining enough confidence to do well etc.) will far outweight any amount of additional income you could earn.

As for me, I hope to steer away the conventional path, i.e. doing something just because I can seek comfort from the reassurance that a stable income awaits me. Perhaps the intial allure of a high-paying salary might cause you to hesitate and think twice about making a decision, but you might not ever be truly happy and successful in a job which you have no interest in, as well as do not excel in (as compared to others who have the passion and competence to perform in that area).

Sorry for the long-windedness and lack of concrete advice! Hope this has answered part of your query, somehow!
simplysheena is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-27-2009, 09:15 AM   #4
cleanerdung
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 2009
Posts: 129
cleanerdung has a neutral reputation
Default

My healthy dose of skepticism:

From my experience, most Singaporean employers prefer:

PR/corporate communications - communications/business grads
Journalism - communications/ps/hist/econs/business grads
Human Resource - HR grads
working for MNCs - business grads (depends on specific role)
professional research jobs - business/psychology grads (and fields that are have a more rigorous quant training)
social work - psych/social work grads
broadcasting - communications grads
advertising - communications/business grads

Of course there are exceptions, but you tend to have an easier time applying jobs for the above industries if you have graduated from the above fields.
cleanerdung is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-27-2009, 05:09 PM   #5
Charlie
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 3
Charlie has a neutral reputation
Default

Thanks for the replies!

Quote:
Irrelevantly, I'm curious. You said you don't want to be "stuck doing something I'd be unhappy with." Yet you implied that you do not want to do "academic-related stuff" as a career. If you love EngLit, why not do EngLit as a career?
Hm. I guess what I have in mind when I refer to academics are things like teaching and studying. While I would definitely enjoy educating and (hopefully) inspiring interest of lit to students and other people, I don't know how far I'd be content with a teacher's routine and dealing with the same texts over and over again, rather than continually learn about and appreciate literature myself. I do like routine, but I somehow see myself getting stuck in that routine and after a while becoming unhappy. Maybe I have a rather romanticized impression of the working world and it's all like that - feel free to correct me!

Besides teaching, are there any options in the job market that would allow me to use my knowledge of lit rather than simply the skills I'd gain from doing it in uni? I know of a local company that offers research and consulting services for historical studies eg. for setting up museums, educational programs. The history graduates that the company takes in not only use their skills as history students to conduct research and writing but learn more and more about history on the job. (I cannot name the company for privacy purposes.) I'd love to do similar work of research and consultancy - would anyone have any idea if there are companies which do the same for literature in specific?

Quote:
I'm facing a similar problem as well so I do understand how you feel. English literature has always been my favourite subject at school and currently, I've resolved to pursue my interest and study a subject that I'm genuinely interested in in uni.
Hi, simplysheena! Where are you planning to study? What was it that was behind this decision, besides love for lit? Was career options a major thing consideration?

Also, DukeBlue, I notice you did a double-major in lit and economics. How did that work, and why did you choose to do a double in those two subjects?

I have also thought of perhaps doing a double in lit and law, since they seem quite complementary. Has anyone heard of/done a major in law and minor in lit, or vice-versa? I interned at a law firm for a while earlier this year, and it is an option I have been considering for a while as well. I know it is a lucrative path to take, and that work can be quite fulfilling, though I know it can become rather stressful and difficult. Maybe a double / major-minor would give me the chance to get a professional degree while at the same time an oppurtunity to study what I love.

And thanks for the info, cleanerdung, I need as much as I can get, both skepticism and otherwise!

Thanks for all the replies, everyone, keep them coming!
Charlie is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-28-2009, 03:56 PM   #6
twasher
Junior Member
 
Join Date: May 2009
Posts: 24
twasher has a neutral reputation
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Charlie View Post
Hm. I guess what I have in mind when I refer to academics are things like teaching and studying. While I would definitely enjoy educating and (hopefully) inspiring interest of lit to students and other people, I don't know how far I'd be content with a teacher's routine and dealing with the same texts over and over again, rather than continually learn about and appreciate literature myself. I do like routine, but I somehow see myself getting stuck in that routine and after a while becoming unhappy. Maybe I have a rather romanticized impression of the working world and it's all like that - feel free to correct me!
Actually I think academia is the best option if you want to "continually learn about and appreciate literature". Firstly, even if you do have to teach some texts over and over again, really good teachers learn something new through their teaching. The mark of a truly great piece of literature is that one can keep learning new things from it when one goes back to it. Secondly, you'll likely also get to teach new texts --- for upper level courses you are more free to choose which topics you'd like to focus on. Thirdly, as a professor you are also expected to do research, and having an academic affiliation is the best way to stay in touch with cutting edge developments in literature. I can't think of any other job that allows you to continue learning about literature that way.
twasher is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-29-2009, 04:50 PM   #7
DukeBlue
Moderator
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: Singapore
Posts: 87
DukeBlue has a neutral reputation
Default

I agree with twasher. Professors also do not necessarily have to teach the same texts over and over, as there is no set syllabus in uni (unlike the A levels). They teach, within reason, any text that they’d like to teach (provided their department approves of it). They have more pedagogical autonomy than teachers. Granted, being a prof is somewhat more exciting in the US (or the West in general) than in Singapore, because that's where the cutting-edge theories and conversations are (despite the Internet, the best conversations still occur in person, at scholarly conferences etc). Also, bear in mind that the path to professorhood is long and winding: the PhD alone will take up to 7 years (or 5 if you work extremely hard), plus post-doc work before you get your first professor job at a uni that will hopefully lead to a tenured professorhood. (A "tenured" professor is basically hired for life by the uni. It is the holy grail for most in the academic arena).

On a more general note, I encourage you not to summarily write-off certain paths, because your understanding of that path itself may not be perfect at the moment. You will have 4 great years at uni. Take the time to meet people with different academic foci and look into the many different fields you could go into. Modern civilization is an amazingly intricate organism; its complex workings are sustained by a million different roles/jobs. One of them might fit you reasonably well.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Charlie View Post
Also, DukeBlue, I notice you did a double-major in lit and economics. How did that work, and why did you choose to do a double in those two subjects?
It's generally very easy to do a double major in the US, so it was no burden for me to do two majors. I had taken both Eng and Econ in JC, and found both subjects to be interesting and meaningful--English because I got to read wonderful soul-moving works and get rewarded for arguing about them, and Economics because it presented an interesting (if oft simplistic) intellectual framework for understanding the complexities of human interaction, and hopefully manipulating such interactions for the betterment of mankind. You could say I'm an intellectual who's also interested in affecting the real world.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Charlie View Post
I have also thought of perhaps doing a double in lit and law, since they seem quite complementary. Has anyone heard of/done a major in law and minor in lit, or vice-versa? I interned at a law firm for a while earlier this year, and it is an option I have been considering for a while as well. I know it is a lucrative path to take, and that work can be quite fulfilling, though I know it can become rather stressful and difficult. Maybe a double / major-minor would give me the chance to get a professional degree while at the same time an oppurtunity to study what I love.
Well, you certainly can't do Lit+Law in the US, since Law is a graduate degree there, not a Bachelor's. You could check with the local universities and/or the UK unis.
__________________
I am a volunteer moderator, not a BrightSparks employee. What I say is my own opinion.
Advice I give is based solely on my personal knowledge and life experience. Treat accordingly.
DukeBlue is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-30-2009, 01:04 AM   #8
simplysheena
Ambassador Candidate
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 7
simplysheena has a neutral reputation
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Charlie View Post

Hi, simplysheena! Where are you planning to study? What was it that was behind this decision, besides love for lit? Was career options a major thing consideration?

Hey Charlie! I hope to study English in either the US or the University of York in the UK (but preferably the former). I understand that the English course in the UK tends to be more academically rigorous than that in the US, but I like the idea of having the liberty to explore a wide range of courses before specialising in the third year.

I must say that love for lit was the main driving force behind this decision. I wanted to do something that I would 1) enjoy doing and 2) be relatively good at (that's my simplistic way of reasoning it out, unfortunately). I considered taking Political Science for a while, but I felt that although I had the interest in the subject, my aptitude for it was and still is rather questionable. And since I finally came to the decision (after eons of soul searching) that I want to go into teaching, the career aspect of it naturally reinforced my decision to study English. In considering what I wanted in a career, I told myself that I am 1) rather averse to desk-bound jobs, and 2) would like a job that gives me the opportunity to interact with youths. Teaching came as a natural option to me then.

I agree with DukeBlue about the merits of going into academia as a profession. Many English students eventually become lit teachers because they hope to "keep in touch with the subject". I think teaching is, indeed, the best way to do so. Journalism might come close to it, but the skills required and the thought process involved cannot be more different. As what a certain self-proclaimed skeptic mentioned in his earlier post (argh I'm sorry, I forgot his username!), most employers tend to favour holders of specific degrees that are nicely aligned with the job scope. It might be more difficult (though not impossible) for a English graduate to compete with others who have already secured an advantage by specialising in a certain area, say in marketing, for 4 years.

Teachers are more than just teachers. They double-up as professional researchers, critics (think mauled essays), counsellors, academic and personal growth mentors, disciplinarians (though that isn't very desirable), event-organisers etc. It is, truly, more than just a job.
simplysheena is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-08-2009, 02:54 PM   #9
shootingstar18
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 264
shootingstar18 has a neutral reputation
Default

I was offered NTU English Literature which was my one and only hope to enter the local uni. But unfortunately, I screwed up my interview with the Head of Department, Prof.

But then again, weighing the career prospects, it's really not very appealing. It's also difficult to get a job with a Arts Cert, like history, geog, lit etc. Unless you wanna go into teaching as a career, then this won't be any of a problem.
shootingstar18 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-21-2009, 03:19 AM   #10
spencer
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: London
Posts: 221
spencer has a neutral reputation
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by simplysheena View Post
Hi Charlie!

I'm facing a similar problem as well so I do understand how you feel. English literature has always been my favourite subject at school and currently, I've resolved to pursue my interest and study a subject that I'm genuinely interested in in uni.

I've spoken to my scholarships counsellor about this matter and she has suggested a few career options that I could consider going into with a Bach of Arts/English degree. Since English is a broad coarse of study, literature graduates are sought after in a variety of fields. Adding on to all the jobs that have already been mentioned in the previous post, you might want to consider going into Human Resource, the Public Service (you could try working in MFA or MICA), working for MNCs, going on to study Law, undertaking professional research jobs for companies, going into social work, broadcasting, advertising etc. And of course, there is teaching which is, probably, the profession that is most relevant to the said course of study. Do consider teaching as it is (cliched as it may sound), a fulfilling and meaningful job with considerable work-life balance. Most importantly, it's not a desk-bound job (if you're really not into such things) and it's people-centred. I've seen how teachers inspire and enlighten, as well as touch the lives of students in seemingly imperceptible but highly signifiant ways. It is a difficult job which might not pay as well as a private sector career, but I'm sure that the rewards (when they do come, in the form of students taking an interest in the subject, gaining enough confidence to do well etc.) will far outweight any amount of additional income you could earn.

As for me, I hope to steer away the conventional path, i.e. doing something just because I can seek comfort from the reassurance that a stable income awaits me. Perhaps the intial allure of a high-paying salary might cause you to hesitate and think twice about making a decision, but you might not ever be truly happy and successful in a job which you have no interest in, as well as do not excel in (as compared to others who have the passion and competence to perform in that area).

Sorry for the long-windedness and lack of concrete advice! Hope this has answered part of your query, somehow!
This post is just silly. I suppose you are just another A-level student giving advice like a pharmacologist prescribing drugs without a licence.

A basket of high quality humanities is useful - like a combination of history, economics, politics and philosophy. Graduates with such basket of useful knowledge, and an excellent academic track record are always sought after. However, the notion that, somehow, learning English Literature will make you " sought after in a variety of fields" and that English literature on its own "is a broad coarse of study" is just Pollyannaish.

Ms Sheena, the last area you want to be in is journalism and broadcasting. The newspapers are all dying. They are dying because information technology has made information free and ubiquitous, and that transformation is permanent. The content provider sector is undergoing Schumpeterian creative destruction.

Also, please, stay away from teaching. Please check the birth-rate across the world. No sector is immune to supply and demand and when the pipeline of kids shrink, you are fired.

Your best bet is to follow what your very smart government is doing. I read that they are opening a fourth university that is going to focus on science and technology. (Note: they are not betting big on financial services.) They are also positioning Singapore to thrive in a knowledge-based economy. The word knowledge speaks to the aggregation and analysis of information, (like Google and ACNielsen), not the content providers.

I really don't have time to elaborate any more. Suffice to say that Sheena doesn't know what she is talking about and doesn't seem to understand the secular transformation that is going to happen to the economy (and employment) in the future, and for that reason alone, you should ignore her advice.
spencer is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT +8. The time now is 11:22 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2018, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.