Career Opportunities

What Can I Do With a BA in English and Comparative Literature?

For advice from Dr. Jenn Williamson,
a DOECL alum, about career paths beyond
academia for humanities majors, check out
the short, helpful videos below:

Dr. Jenn Williamson                                                         
Gender Technical Specialist at Counterpart International

What Can I Do With a BA in English and Comparative Literature?

The skills you gain from your English and Comparative Literature majors are more practically valuable than you may may think. Written and oral communication, editing, problem solving, critical thinking, and analysis are highly prized by employers in nearly every profession. In today's changeable and evolving career landscape, the widely applicable skills you've developed while engaged in studying, analyzing, and writing about literature are in more demand in the workplace than ever before. Employers in all career pathways consistently cite writing, communication skills, the ability to work independently, and adaptability at the top of their lists of desired skills. As English and Comparative Literature majors and student in the liberal arts, you will develop these skills in abundance.

The difficulty is often the sheer range of choices. Unlike a student of nursing or landscape architecture, undergraduate English and Comparative Literature majors have not been trained for one specific kind of work; instead, ECL majors develop a wide range of transferable skills that employers of all sorts place at a premium -- whether those employers are located in the field of education, communications, government, non-profit, philanthropy, business, high technology, the arts, health and human services, or law. This variety can make the task of career exploration feel overwhelming, but once you are able to translate your major-based skills into language that a broad audience can understand, that wide range of options becomes a huge advantage in your career planning and job search!


Who Can Help Me With Career Planning?

Career planning is a process, and it takes time. It begins with self assessment (what am I good at? what do I enjoy? what's important to me?) and research into career fields, sectors or industries, and employers. It's a process in which you'll attempt to match your values, needs, ethics, aspirations, talents, and abilities with the needs of an agency, organization, or institution.

 To help you with your planning, the Department of English and Comparative Literature holds information and networking sessions, allows you to pre-arrange academic credit for internships, and provides one-on-one counseling with the departmental faculty advisor, Dr. Hilary Lithgow, to supplement the resources offered by the university's Career Services office and your other professors and advisors. You can make an appointment with Dr. Lithgow via the Academic Advising website at

University Career Services are a crucial resource for you in this planning process.  For additional career related information, assistance in choosing a career, and a comprehensive list of internship possibilities, visit University Career Services. You can make an appointment or see a career advisor for drop-in counseling Monday through Friday from 1pm until 4pm in Hanes Hall. 


What do Carolina English Alumni do?  

UNC-CH English and Comparative Literature alumni engage in an astonishing range of careers from all employment sectors and at all levels. We are working on building an online alumni database, but in the meantime, check out the 7000+ profiles of UNC English alums on LinkedIn (go to the page for UNC Chapel Hill and then select for "English Language and Literature" on the "What They Studied" tab.)


Internships offer you a sneak preview of what it's like in the real world of employment.  You get a chance to see what it takes to succeed in your chosen field and make important contacts that can result in permanent employment. Even if the internship doesn't work out it may produce a new interest or take you in a different career direction. It is also important that you familiarize yourself with a company when applying for an internship or job. Good job candidates are knowledgeable about the company's products or services, number of employees, competitors, and locations.(For more information on their benefits and how to find great ones, see the video links above!)