I had an interview today, for an internship. I thought the people who were interviewing me were absolutely lovely, and this post is by no means a call-out to them.
I was taken a little aback by their comments about my major. I’m undecided, but leaning towards anthropology. They said that they really prefer to have their interns be English majors. That’s totally fine and their prerogative. I like that they told me up front.
But I’d like, for a moment, to talk about why majoring in something other than English is a perfectly legitimate choice for someone interviewing for a publishing job, and why your major in college is a different kind of prerequisite from your internship/job experience.
The fact of the matter is, I don’t think people need to study one thing, do one thing, and be defined by one thing. I think it’s fantastic that I can go to college, study something completely unrelated, and still read slush for a magazine. I love that I can read slush for a magazine and write novels as well. I also love gardening, crocheting, cooking and eating, botany, and all sorts of other unrelated things. This doesn’t mean that I’m solely a college student, or a writer, or a slush reader, or a gardener, or whatever. And this doesn’t mean that I’m going to be jobless after I exit college.
I see myself doing three different things right now, each with different job prospects attached to them.
1. Writing. Write a novel. Edit it. Write another novel. Edit it. Write stories. Edit them. Send everything out out out. I’ve been doing this for a while and I know that I’m probably not going to make a living from it, but it’d be nice if I could, right? Writing, editing, and submitting is giving me experience in a job field that’s entirely unrelated to what I’m studying in college (note: I just realized this is a lie. I’m probably going to pick up a creative writing minor.), but it’s still giving me experience. This experience is not nullified because I’m not studying the subject in the classroom. (note: I also just remembered that creative writing minor might turn into an Italian minor.)
2. Interning. If I end up getting a desk job, I’d like it to be in publishing. I really like the editorial side of things, and most of my internship experience is related to that specifically. I’d like to think that if this ends up being a career goal of mine, that internship experience (which I’ve been accumulating since my senior year of high school), will count for something, even if my college degree is about, like, the anthropology of pastoral whatevers in Australia or something. Interning right now takes up about 5-8 hours a week, not to mention whatever PR work I may/may not pick up in the future. If I end up taking on another internship in the winter or spring, I’d add on about 16 hours a week to that schedule.
3. Colleging. I think I’m lucky to go to Chicago, where people have a lot of freedom to study whatever they like. And obviously, with today’s mentality, my BA is going to count for a lot. That’s fine with me, and I’ve definitely structured what I’m studying with an eye towards a future career. If I end up taking the anthropology/environmental studies route, I’ll probably forgo the desk job in favor of doing something hands-on, like landscape architecture.
Anyway, the point of this post is to try to take another jab at beating down the “go to college, major in something, get a job in that something” mentality that I know a lot of my peers and friends back in high school will have. Before I started to consider my major seriously, my mom mentioned that my BA would definitely help out, but what’s really important is work experience. Develop skills. Work hard. Pick up anything and everything you’re interested in, because you like it, and because it might come in handy.