Seven valuable skills learned as an English Literature Student [Guest Post from Inspiring Interns]

Anyone taking, or considering taking, a degree in English Literature will already know of the mockery that often comes along with the subject. Heralded as one of the ‘pointless’ degrees, it is deemed useless when it comes to leading into a career by many students. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. The skills gained by English Literature majors are undeniably useful in the workplace and the doors that an English degree can therefore open are endless.

Here are just a few of the skills that English graduates can boast of:

The ability to meet deadlines
English students are often required to get through a huge reading list, submit essays and conduct research on a weekly basis. They are therefore no strangers to tight deadlines. Their capability to hit those cut-off dates without needing to beg for an extension comes down to their ability to manage their time efficiently and work well under pressure.

Research skills
It is sometimes believed that English essays are all about opinions, and while to a certain extent that is true, they also require a huge amount of research. For every point made, there must be a critic or reference to back it up, and so literature students have to quickly develop the research skills needed to enable them to find the required sources.

An ability to understand different points of view
In an office environment, where people from all walks of life are thrown together, it is necessary to be able to understand where everyone is coming from. English students are taught to approach a text from a variety of angles in order to understand how people could read the same piece of writing in a different way to themselves. This is a skill that is easily transferred into the work environment and can often be invaluable when it comes to settling a dispute or sealing a deal.

Written communication
It goes without saying that most of an English major’s time is spent reading and writing. While it might seem obvious to state that their grammar and spelling is therefore top notch, it’s still worth shouting about as those skills do not come naturally to everyone. In a day and age where text speech is now commonplace having someone on your team that can produce clear and concise copy, with minimal mistakes, is invaluable.

A creative mind
Thinking outside of the box is the crux of an English literature degree so students are constantly pushed to unleash their creative side to enable them to approach a text in a unique way. Creativity and problem solving often come hand-in-hand, so having an English graduate on your team can help you to achieve better results within the workplace.

Being able to craft a civil argument
There is no ‘right’ answer when it comes to English essays but that doesn’t mean that everyone is correct. Sounds odd? Bear with us. English students have to question everything they read and so they learn to carefully craft an argument, back it up with evidence and present it. However, they are also aware that the person sitting opposite them in the lecture hall may have come to a completely different conclusion to the one they did. Literature students must therefore be able to civilly defend their own point of view and be capable of taking constructive criticism from others.

There comes a time in every English Literature student’s life when they will have to write an essay on a poem, novel or play that they simply do not understand or like. But one skill that literature students acquire very early on is the ability to write with confidence about an array of topics. Fake it until you make it comes to mind, and in this case, it is true but it is still an undeniably useful life skill to have.

Shannon Clark writes for Inspiring Interns, which specialises in sourcing candidates for internships and graduate jobs. You can find more of her writing and


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