What do you do with an English major?
We’re proud to say that our graduates are a diverse group!
Some of our majors enter the teaching profession — often after completing a Masters or PhD.
Many are pursuing graduate school to work in social service agencies, arts management, library science, and law.
Others are finding satisfying careers in public relations and publishing.
Still others are working with the Peace Corps or even creating their own non-profit organizations here and abroad.
For more information on what our alumni have been up to, see some of our alumni profiles.
Examples of Recent Graduate Accomplishments
Student spent the year after graduation teaching in Germany on a Fulbright
Winner of the “Discovery” Poetry contest sponsored by the Boston Review and
the 92nd Street Unterberg Poetry Center. They read their poems at the Unterberg Poetry Center in New York City last month.
Recent graduate is one of just 10 young poets from throughout the nation to be invited to attend the Bucknell Seminar for Younger Poets.
Reporter for Willamette Week
A graduate from some years past has co-founded SpringGun Press
Examples of Recent Graduate Study
- Harvard University, Ph.D. program, African-American Studies, with a Ford Foundation Fellowship.
- Princeton University, Ph.D. program in literature, funded by an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Fellowship.
- Rutgers University, Ph.D. program in literature and critical theory, supported by a teaching fellowship.
- University of Iowa, Writers’ Workshop, M.F.A. program in creative writing.
- University of Chicago, Ph.D. program in humanities.
- Mills College, Ph.D. program in literature and M.F.A. program in creative writing.
- New York Univeristy, M.F.A. program in creative writing.
- Purdue Unvieristy, M.F.A. program in creative writing.
- University of Montana, M.F.A. program in creative writing.
- University of Colorado at Boulder, M.F.A. program in creative writing.
- Portland State Univeristy, M.A. in Book Publishing.
- Lewis & Clark Graduate School of Education and Counseling.
- Brooklyn Law School.
- University of San Francisco, M.F.A.
- Columbia University, M.F. A.
- University of Washington in Saint Louis, M. F. A.
Katherine Arathoon, ‘05
I left LC with an English degree and many fond memories, but with little idea of what I wanted to do in life. Our career counseling center had suggested I work in publishing, but when they showed me the cap salary I scoffed—this was not the industry that would allow me to support myself in the manner to which I wished to grow accustomed! How would I be able to afford diamonds? Thanks, but no thanks!
So, I moved to San Francisco and did data entry, recording information from scientific surveys about eye infections and other such exciting topics. After six months I realized I could either leave the country or suffer a complete nervous breakdown. Leaving the country seemed cheaper and easier, so I took off for New Zealand and then Australia. Traveling, working, falling in and out of love on a regular basis—it was an altogether glorious experience. I earned just enough money to keep myself in beer and chocolate, and learned that the manner to which I wished to grow accustomed cost less than previously imagined.
And so it came down to: What do I want to do with my time? And the answer was: I want to talk about books with people who love books, all day every day. That’s what I enjoyed about my time at LC, and that’s what I still missed, two years down the line. And so, after a very circuitous route, I found myself exactly where I’d been told to go in the first place—in New York, working in publishing, and adoring it. The hours are long and the money is negligible, but I love spending my time corresponding with authors and editors, and I love that I get paid to read and analyze books. An English major couldn’t ask for anything more! (Except, maybe, diamonds.)
One other quick note about how LC has helped me: according to a recent study, as reported by the indispensable Radio Lab, if you visualize a professor before playing Trivial Pursuit, “your scores are substantially higher—you win.” Thus, before undertaking any sort of trivia-based game, I now spend a few minutes meditating on the pulchritudinous visage of, say, Kurt Fosso, or any of the other brilliant LC faculty.
Thu Ngo, ‘04
After graduating in 2004, I headed down the coast to UC Irvine (Kurt Fosso’s alma mater, by the way) to attend their Summer Master’s in English program. Designed mainly for English teachers to earn their graduate degree, the program runs for ten weeks of the summer. Students attend for two consecutive summers and complete a Master’s thesis by the end of the third summer. I had originally chosen this program because I wanted to reserve the bulk of the year for editorial internships in the Bay Area (which is where I am from). However, it was hard not to be inspired by the English teachers I met through the program, and it was not long before I began to consider a career as a high school teacher myself. In 2006, armed with both my MA and my teaching credential, I joined the English department at the high school in my hometown.
Obviously, having an English degree is a huge plus for teaching English. Content knowledge is important, especially if you teach at the high school level - students need to learn how to read and write properly, and it is easier to teach someone how to do that when you yourself have spent much time and effort figuring out that process. But what is equally important is having passion for the literature and the ideas, something that I got in spades from the wonderful English department at LC. “Because you need to know this for college” can only take you so far as a teacher - students want to see that you love what you do and that you want to share that love with them.
Josh Wallaert, ‘02
After graduation, I went straight to working at a remainders bookstore in a skyscraper in downtown Minneapolis, eating my lunch in a food court next to an indoor car dealership, which was actually a great place to eat lunch, and from there to the MFA creative writing program at the University of Minnesota, where I studied fiction and poetry. I loved graduate teaching. I felt a tremendous sense of responsibility walking into a classroom full of students reading The Moment’s Equation, by former LC professor Vern Rutsala, who had taught me so much about writing himself.
In the middle of graduate school, I made an independent documentary film, Arid Lands, with another LC graduate, Grant Aaker. We spent three months living near the Hanford nuclear site in southeastern Washington state, gathering material for a film about the land and people of the Mid-Columbia Basin. Somewhat amazingly, that adventure continues, with film festival and community screenings and DVDs in libraries throughout the Northwest and across the country.
I live now in Vancouver, BC. I write short stories and poems and I’m the web editor at the Canadian literary and cultural magazine Geist . I try to organize my life around making things and enjoying things made by other people.
In most of my creative work, I’m dealing with themes of geography, environment, nature, and language, themes that can be traced back very neatly to my senior thesis seminar on environmental literature with Kurt Fosso. I don’t know how many people can follow their obsessions back through time to particular moments in their student life, but for me the connections are salient. I’ve never shaken the ideas about modernism that I formed in Rishona Zimring’s British literature class, or the radical generosity I saw in Lyell Asher’s Shakespeare, or the sense of quietness I learned from Vern Rutsala. That stuff just sticks with you.
Anne Bunn, ‘97
During my senior year at Lewis & Clark, I had an internship at a small book publishing company in Portland called the Eighth Mountain Press. This experience exposed me to the process of how books are made, from the manuscript phase, through design, production, and then sales & marketing. After graduation, I moved to San Francisco where I started working at Chronicle Books, an illustrated book publisher, in the sales & marketing department. After two years in this department, I moved to the editorial side of book publishing, assisting the pop culture, art, and architecture editors in the acquisition of books in these categories. While I enjoyed acquisitions, book sales were really fun for me, so when we moved to Cambridge, MA a few years later, I switched my focus back to sales & marketing. I started at the MIT Press in 2002 and I am still enjoying my position and the publishing industry.
My English degree was very important for a number of reasons. For starters, I learned to write and to think, skills that are helpful in any industry. My love for reading also inspired a love for physical books. In many ways, book publishing was a natural career path for me. I am surrounded by books and reading and learning, while I am also entrenched in business and numbers, a side of the publishing industry that turned out to be more interesting and rewarding for me than the manuscript development side of the business. I enjoy talking with people and working with people, and sales & marketing allows me to do both of these things on a daily basis. Funnily enough, I answered my phone one day and it was a bookseller calling to ask about a particular MIT Press title. The bookseller was Tim from the LC bookstore! He was very surprised when I explained to him who I was. What are the chances? The human interaction is vital for me, and it really makes my job fun. Interaction with people and a connection with books really give me the best of all worlds.