What You Can Do with an English Major 

On October 7th at 3:00 pm Dr. Baker, a senior level professor of English, organized a panel via WebEx to give students an idea of what they can do with an English Major. He invited two former graduates, Daniel Reitz and Christopher Dowell, to talk about how they use their English degrees.  

Reitz is currently studying law and said, “You can use English anywhere you go.” He told students that he even used his writing skills while working in construction during his summer breaks. Reitz also talked about one of the most common buzzwords in the English program at Fairmont State, “critical thinking.” He divided critical thinking into four steps: “synthesis, analysis, arguments, and problem-solving.” Reitz broke down every step and explained how he uses them in law school. Synthesis is looking at a rule or law and then using analysis to break down that rule so you can apply it. Once you analyze that rule, you can “see the types of arguments you can make” and use problem-solving to “do your best to solve the problem for your client.” 

Christopher Dowell agreed with Reitz about the importance of critical thinking. Dowell began by saying how it’s “hard to decide what you want to do right after you graduate. After he graduated, he worked at a bank, then an editor for a paper, and now he is an assignment editor at WBOY, a news organization. Dowell was thankful for his experience as an English major in each job because it helped him communicate ideas. In his current job as an Assignment Editor, he uses critical thinking and technical writing. Critical thinking helps Dowell decide what WBOY should cover as well as telling apart “what’s real, what’s fake, what’s satire.” Dowell also told students how writing research papers was great preparation. Writing research papers while at FSU taught him how to find reliable information, credit sources, and keep “information straight and correct.” All important aspects when dealing with the news.  

When the floor was open for questions, one student asked, “Are there any minors/second majors you would recommend for those studying English?” Dowell minored in psychology and recommended that English Majors “minor in something a little different than English” so you can “[get] into something you’re not used to.” And in the end, they both stressed the importance of having fun and enjoying your time. Reitz also recommended that students try out new things like “a new writing style” because college is a great place to experiment and get helpful feedback from professors. So if you are thinking about majoring in English, remember that a degree in English doesn’t just limit you to teaching or editing.