In the big, wide world of careers, there is a place for you, and majoring in English can help you reach it. For those of you who fancy yourselves humanitarians, fear not! Working in non-profit can help you fulfill your dreams of having a successful career, while also making a difference in the lives of many people.
You may wonder what role you could play in the non-profit world. Non-profit organizations serve all different walks of life. According to  who wrote Great Jobs for English Majors, non-profit organizations include, “animal rights, government funding for the arts, child advocacy, consumer advocacy, energy use and the environment, government oversight, homelessness, [and] hunger legal aid…” (DeGalan, 211). NPOs perform a number of different tasks in order to accomplish their goals, often with only a small staff to keep things on track. Staff members can take on a number of roles where a degree in English could be helpful. For example, NPOs are eligible to receive grants from the government, but it takes a talented writer who can be both concise and professional to create a grant proposal that will get an organization the grant money they are looking for. This is not the only type of writing you would have to deal with on a day to day basis, however. NPOs have to advertise, and that means writing slots for the radio, newspaper ads or billboards, and information pages for the organization’s website (Maiden, interview). It may be up to you to write progress reports, brochures, and newsletters to keep your members informed.
Unlike in large corporations where there are enough people on staff that each person is assigned their individual duties that represent a narrow portion of the company’s tasks, personnel at many NPOs must be able to handle a wide array of tasks in order to keep the organization running smoothly (DeGalan, 212). Ultimately, that means you have to have a large and varied skill set in order to make it in an NPO.
There are a few basic things that everyone is going to need when working for an NPO. Communication, critical thinking, technical writing, and the ability to think on your feet are just a few important skills that you are going to want to have when it comes to non-profit work. [Great Jobs for English Majors] AUTHOR says, “The English major is versatile, and not-for-profit employers will find that especially attractive” (212). An English degree from Heidelberg provides you with the skill set to tackle a multitude of tasks. Writing and critical thinking skills will be major components in a non-profit career. You will be tasked with writing reports, proposals, e-mails, advertisement slots, webpage content, and any number of other heavily writing-based jobs. You will also have to do a lot of reading and be able to pull out all the important information and use it effectively. Developing your critical thinking can help you to be successful in these tasks. Whether your employer wants you to write a press release, a cover letter, or a brochure, or critically analyze data from a non profit study, majoring in English will allow you to cultivate these skills.
Courses at Heidelberg
Heidelberg offers a large number of courses that can help you be successful in a career at a non-profit organization. Heidelberg Alumna and English Writing major Beth Maiden says that the skills she developed in her work as an English major have helped her in her work at a non-profit organization (Maiden). The English Department provides you with classes to cultivate reading and writing skills. Whichever concentration you choose, the skills you develop with stay with you in your career. Heidelberg offers classes in Technical Writing, Computer-Mediated Writing, as well as basic, intermediate, and advanced writing courses to improve your skills. Literature courses will allow you to read critically and pick out ideas that are important—a skill that many employers will be glad you have learned.
A major in English will allow you to take other courses from other departments to enrich your education and provide you with other necessary skills. NPOs are going to need you to have a wide-ranging skill set, so you should take varied classes in order to build that up. Courses in communications, business, and public relations can help you grasp concepts and ideas that will better your efforts as a worker in the non-profit field. Do not be afraid to branch out from the English Department and into other areas. Minors in public relations and communications can go hand-in-hand with an English major.
- Maiden, Beth. Telephone interview. 1 Nov. 2011.
- DeGalan, Julie, and Stephen Lambert. Great Jobs for English Majors. 2nd ed. Chicago: VGM Career Horizons, 2000. Print.