English 293: Exploring Careers in English What can you do with an English major?




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English 293: Exploring Careers in English

What can you do with an English major?

English 293: Exploring Careers in English


Open to all English Majors and Minors (2 credits)

The Student of Literature in the Workplace: An in-depth exploration of the relationships between education and work, work and life. We will explore the relationship between the knowledge and skills English majors develop and the larger social world we inhabit.

Planning Education, Career, and Life: Students will be asked to think very consciously about their futures and to map out plans for their educational, career, and life goals. Ultimately, the course will provide students with the tools to make decisions and to act on those decisions. Students will learn how to use the Occupational and Career Counseling Office library to locate and evaluate relevant internships and/or grant opportunities, as well as professions and careers. Guest speakers, many drawn from English Department alumni, will introduce students to the wide range of career options available to them.

A Different Kind of Writing: Students will learn how to sell themselves on paper (in application letters, résumés, grant and internship applications, and other job application materials), and how to write out loud, that is how to interview. We will focus on how to articulate the connections between their reading, writing, and critical thinking skills, the study of literature, and the careers students wish to pursue.

English 295A, Exploring Careers in English

Fall 2002

M/W 1:25-2:15, Keezell 414

Professor Dabney A. Bankert
OFFICE: 206 Keezell
OFFICE: 568-3752 HOME: 887-6177 Staunton (not after 10pm please)
E-MAIL ADDRESS: bankerda@jmu.edu
OFFICE HOURS: W 2:30-4:30, F 10:00-11:00, or by appointment or coincidence.

Required Texts & Materials:

Bolles, Richard Nelson, What Color is Your Parachute: A Practical Manual for Job-Hunters and Career Changers. Ten Speed Press, 2002. ISBN: 1580082424


Course Description:

This class is atypical of English classes in a number of ways. Our goal is not to study literature but to study ourselves as students of literature and as citizens in a social and professional culture. What kind of life do you want to lead? What kind of work will satisfy you intellectually? How does one use the skills one learns in the study of literature in one’s life and work? How does one define and pursue a satisfying career path? And how does one respond to nervous parents and meddlesome, ill-informed friends and relatives who ask, “So how will you find a job with an English major?” or more frequently, “What grade do you plan to teach?” We will firmly dispense with such myths by researching and shaping academic and career interests, with particular attention to articulating the relationship between the reading, writing, and analytical skills you develop as majors and the career options these skills open to you. The course will cover three areas:



1. The Student of Literature in the Workplace: We will discuss the knowledge and skills English majors develop, the value those skills hold in the larger social world, and how one communicates these skills and their value to potential employers.

2. Planning Education, Career, and Life: You will be asked to think very consciously about your future and to map out educational, career, and life goals. Ultimately, the course will provide students with the tools to make decisions and to act on those decisions. You will learn how to use the resources of the Academic Advising and Career Counseling Center to locate and evaluate relevant internships and/or grant opportunities, as well as professions and careers. Guest speakers, many drawn from English Department alumni and current students, will discuss their career and internship experiences.

3. A Different Kind of Writing: Students will learn how to sell themselves on paper (in application letters, resumes, grant and internship applications, and other job application materials), and how to write out loud, that is how to interview.
Student Obligations:

This class is the equivalent of your job this semester; this means attendance is obligatory as is promptness and responsibility. You must complete the reading, writing, and workshop assignments when due. Unless otherwise indicated, deadlines are NOT flexible, as they will not be in the internship, job, grant, or graduate school application processes. Assignment details are appended to the syllabus. No “daily” assignments will be accepted late. The work you will prepare—resume, application letter, graduate school statement—is critical to the successful pursuit of gainful employment and further education. I will, therefore, hold you to rigorous grammar, syntax, format and proofreading standards and guidelines. I will NOT be lenient about this. If you do not own a grammar and usage handbook or the MLA Style Manual, I would strongly urge that you get both immediately and figure out how to use them. If money is a concern, there are copies of both in the reference section of Carrier Library. [A secretarial handbook is actually a good choice since it provides formats for business correspondence and other handy information.] There is a heavy element of personal responsibility to this course; your gains will be directly proportional to the amount of time and effort you put into your career research and preparation of documents.


Assignments (* Instructions will be provided)


  1. Resume* (20%)

  2. Application letter or Personal Statement* (20%)

  3. Career Report & Plan* (15%)

  4. Informational Interview* (10%)

  5. Mock Interview* (10%)

  6. “Daily” Written Assignments (15-16 total) (15%)

  7. The following exercises from Parachute: (10%)

Exercise #3, p. 134

Exercise #1, pp. 130-131

Traits exercise, pp. 346-349

Values and Goals exercise, pp. 357-362

Geography exercise, pp. 349-353

Working conditions exercise, pp. 363-364

Budget (from pp. 288-289/365-368)

Attendance: I will notice if you miss class, just as an employer would notice. Technically, no absence from class is excused. I reserve the right to grant exceptions solely on my assessment; more than 2 absences may lower your course grade substantially. Tardiness will be counted as absences at my discretion. I make announcements about assignments, syllabus changes, etc. at the beginning of the period. I will not repeat them. You are responsible for all course work, whether you have attended class or not.

Format for Written Work: Unless I specify otherwise, all written assignments must be typed. ALWAYS MAKE A COPY OF WORK BEFORE TURNING IT IN. I reiterate the necessity of following specified formats and of rigorous proofreading.

Grading Scale:

A = 90-100 B = 80-89 C = 70-79 D = 60-69 F = 59 and below


Syllabus

[Written Assignments are indicated in bold]


Week 1: Introduction and Self-Assessment

Monday, August 26: Introductions and Introductory Matters – “Oh, you’re an English major? What are you planning to teach?” and other stubborn myths and legends.


Wednesday, August 28:

Parachute, Chapter 7, “The Secret to Finding Your Dream Job,” pp. 125-150. Do exercise #3, p. 134 for class.

Make a list of the skills, talents, etc. you feel you have learned and are learning by studying literature. If you have other academic skills – a second major, a particular talent or skill – list these also.
Week 2: Self-Assessment

Monday, September 2:



Parachute(1) do exercise #1, pp. 130-131 for class; (2) search at least three of the internet sites listed in Chapter 7 and bring in notes on which site you found most useful and why; and (3) do exercise #2 or #4 or one of the exercises for identifying skills on pp. 174-175
Wednesday, September 4:

Parachute, Chapter 8,  “When You Lose All Track of Time,”  pp. 153-175

Discussion of transferable skills – bring completed list to class



Locate two job descriptions that look interesting and that specify skills in some detail on an internet site such as or . Bring copies to class.

Week 3: Graduate School – To go or not to go?

Monday, September 9:

Discussion of graduate school

Write an essay in which you discuss both what you imagine graduate school to be (what does one do there as opposed to undergraduate study? Why function does a graduate degree serve?), and whether you have considered applying for graduate programs and why or why not? In otherwords, discuss what it is you think you know about graduate school and what kind of thought you’ve given to it for yourself.
Wednesday, September 11:

Graduate school panel discussion


Week 4: Finding a Career, Job, or Internship – Introduction to JMU Resources

Monday, September 16:

Half of the class meets at Academic Advising and Career Center (Wilson Hall, Third Floor)

Bring a written list of careers that interest you and questions you have about those careers
Wednesday, September 18:

Half of the class meets at Academic Advising and Career Center (Wilson Hall, Third Floor)



Bring a written list of careers that interest you and questions you have about those careers
Week 5: Marketing Your Skills

Monday, September 23:



(1) Do Traits exercise on pp. 346-349 and Values and Goals exercise on pp. 357-362

  1. Write a serious advertisement for your dream job [no comedic versions please]: consider carefully the results of the self-assessment exercises you have completed when preparing this.

(3) Bring two job ads you find interesting. Include the URL’s.

Wednesday, September 25:



Parachute, Chapter 1, “What are you Looking for?”

Chapter 2, “Job-Hunting at Warp Speed,” pp. 1-29

Resume Workshop


  1. Draft resume due – handout to be provided

(2) Locate one sample resume on the internet; critique it for appearance and content; bring it and the critique to class.

Week 6: Career Planning

Monday, September 30:

Application Letter/Personal Statement Workshop. Using the handout provided, draft three paragraphs of an application letter as follows: (1) a discussion of your academic experience; and (2) a discussion of your work experience, and (3) a brief description of one experience that indicates something significant about you that an employer would find revealing [in a positive way goes without saying]
Wednesday, October 2:

Parachute, Chapter 3, “But What if that Doesn’t Work?” pp. 31-57

Informational Interview Workshop: (1) Make a list of people you might interview about their careers – these need not be people you know.

(2) Do Geography exercise, pp. 349-353 and Working Conditions exercise, pp. 363-364
Week 7: Panel Discussions

Monday, October 14:

Panel Discussion – Writing as a Career (Lucy Corin, Chris Bolgiano, Michelle Hite)

Submit a list of questions you plan to ask in your informational interview
Wednesday, October 16:

Panel Discussion – Library Careers (Rebecca Feind & Cathy Clark)



Week 8: From the Employer’s Perspective

Monday, October 21:



Parachute, Chapter 4, “How Employers Hunt for Job-Hunters,” pp. 53-68
Wednesday, October 23:

Panel Discussion – Students on internships


Week 9: Panel Discussions

Monday, October 28

Panel Discussion – Stockbroker, City Assessor, lawyer

Informational Interviews due
Wednesday, October 30:

Panel Discussion – newspaper writing, editing


Week 10: How to Find an Internship or a Job

Monday, November 4:

Reflections Discussion: What have I learned so far? Where am I going next? Write a short response to these questions for class discussion.

Parachute, Chapter 10, “Getting into Impossible Places,” pp. 223-238
Wednesday, November 6:

Revised Resume and Application Letter due

Week 11: Interviewing

Monday, November 11:



Parachute, Chapter 11, “Interviewing Tips for Smarties,” pp. 239-278

Interviewing Workshop: Write out 2 difficult interview questions you have been asked or are afraid you will be asked – write a response for each question.

Wednesday, November 13:

Mock Interview Workshop



Locate an advertisement for a position that interests you. Imagine you must interview candidates for the position and hire one. Write a list of 5 questions you would ask prospective candidates for the position. Bring this the ad and list to class

Week 12: Mock Interviews

Monday, November 18:

Mock Interviews

Wednesday, November 20:

Mock Interviews

Week 13: Panels and Presentations

Monday, November 25:

Mock Interviews

Career Report Due
Wednesday, November 27: Thanksgiving Holiday. No Class.

Week 14: Resume and Letter Workshop

Monday, December 2:

Resume and job letter/personal statement workshop – peer review

Prepare specific questions about the effectiveness of your resume and letter/personal statement
Wednesday, December 4:

Last day of class. Due: (1) Self-evaluation (form to be provided); (2) Polished Resume & Application Letter. There is no final exam in this class.

English 295A: Exploring Careers in English

Bankert/Fall 2002



Assignments


* Instructions will be provided



  1. Resume* (20%)

  2. Application letter or Personal Statement* (20%)

  3. Career Report & Plan* (15%)

  4. Informational Interview* (10%)

  5. Mock Interview* (10%)

  6. Written Assignments (15-16 total) (15%)

  7. The following exercises from Parachute: (10%)

Exercise #3, p. 134

Exercise #1, pp. 130-131

Traits exercise, pp. 346-349

Values and Goals exercise, pp. 357-362

Geography exercise, pp. 349-353

Working conditions exercise, pp. 363-364

Budget (from pp. 288-289/365-368)

List of Careers to research:


Foreign Service

Law Enforcement & Federal law enforcement

Law

Editorial work – magazines, books, newspaper



Writing – creative, drama, screen, nonfiction

Dramaturge

Art (gallery manager, critic, corporate relations for museums)

Human resources

CIA/FBI/NSA, etc.

Airline – publicity, customer service

Sales

Advertising



PR – Publicity

Events/Convention organizer for resorts, municipalities, cities, etc.

Civil Service

Marketing

Stockbroker

Government agencies – management, information dissemination, tech writing

Speechwriter

NonProfit Management

Researcher for television, films, documentaries, etc.

Curatorial work

Library work – rare books, archives, academic, public, etc.

Public Radio and Television



Fundraiser

Lobbyist


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