Marketing Needs English Majors: The Skills
It all starts in our formative educational settings. As the world reinvented itself post WWII, technology, industry and the concept of white collared work became highly valued with the general public. The benchmark and bottom line meant making money—as much as possible. Career paths that swelled the ranks of white collar work became the #1 desire and priority. While I could begin my 100,000 word dissertation here, I’ll sum it up instead: careers that were directly related to this new societal focus prospered, while those that weren’t so obvious in their monetary value, suffered.
English, along with all humanities studies, skilled trades and other non-white collar types of work were pushed to the side, while a fast-track career path quickly came to dominate the overarching mentality of entire generations that developed different belief and value structures. In time, anything intellectual that wasn’t math or science related became seen as frivolous, and antiquated—a remnant of an archaic past that had no place in the world of the future.
So what then, does the English major offer to the workforce that other areas of study do not?
Business—especially marketing and public relations—hinge upon communication. Whether it’s consumer direct or B2B, communication is key to conveying effective messages.
English majors have the ability to understand and communicate complex topics; they are—quite literally—trained to synthesize complicated ideas into meanings anyone can understand. This is a result of their voluminous and intensive studies during school, where they constantly plow through vast amounts of information of all types, learning to extract and synthesize the important data and then communicate it via writing.
Not only are these writers great at communication, but they also possess certain qualities that are not found—as a complete package—among most other majors. English majors are:
Being well read, well spoken, and capable of knowing how to communicate what they mean to say has a lot of benefits to business, especially marketing. Being able to quickly understand what needs to be done, then coordinating and executing the desired plan is a vital skill set—one which is highly sought after by businesses everywhere.
Taught how to think, not what to think is a trait that has extreme value to businesses of all types. Marketing in fact, prospers significantly when it comes to this quality. An employee that can think for themselves is able to analyze a problem and then come up with (often multiple) solutions, and then develop a plan for resolution and execution.
In a field that is built on creative thinking and communication, an English major will find themselves right at home. All of that reading and writing creates neuronal pathways that encourage creative thought. With the addition of good habits formed by countless hours spent reading, analyzing, interpreting and then communicating literature of all forms, the English major has a disciplined, creative mind that craves challenges.
Marketing, PR and many other fields of business, including research, development and industry are always looking to stay ahead of the curve. The business plan is rarely to be just good enough. Building a team of employees interested in life and work is how a business is able to do more than the bare minimum. Forward thinking is integral to growing business and maintaining success—those who are always focused on learning are valuable because they will apply their intellectual appetites to their work.
Speculation suggests that despite the obsolete prejudices against studying English, the view won’t change until there is a shift in how English is represented and portrayed. There is very little in the way of a “defined program path” that can offer guidance and support in the same ways as other majors receive.
Job fairs are a frequent occurrence in the educational setting, beginning as early high school. While many other fields of study—math, science and business—get most of the attention, there is very little if any representation for what an English major can do with their degree.
In all honesty, we won’t get ahead as a society without the math and science majors. Those English majors won’t get us any closer to gigantic robots or Iron Man suits of armor. But we won’t be able to develop as a society if we don’t have those English majors either—we need to be able to communicate effectively and creatively.
Imagine a world rife with awful grammar, poorly communicated concepts, and a general inability to understand complex concepts. Unable to communicate with one another, we may just devolve and need those robots to do the thinking for us. English majors may save us all from such a fate. Or at least uninspired advertising.