After the BA

My University of Chicago education stressed an interdisciplinary approach to knowledge from my first days sitting in a Core class. Economics and English complemented each other: both were critical, rigorous, and evidence-driven. The critical ways of thinking developed in the English program—e.g., parsing a text’s language and then stepping back to consider its social, cultural, and historical contexts—are no less rigorous or valuable than those developed in econ. The two programs worked together to develop a mindset that I use daily.

As a reporter at the Philadelphia Inquirer, I have to move beyond what happened to determine how and why it occurred. The skills learned in interpreting texts, in figuring out where they came from and why they came about, transfer nicely into my daily work. Some days, a press release or an interviewee’s answers can be more difficult to interpret than Faulkner or Whitman. And much as I learned to “close read” a photograph, movie, or play, I now have to read the real world: a political rally, a living room, a neighborhood. Digging beneath the surface is vital to the job, and a skill developed in the English classroom, sparring over meaning and interpretations. Those hours spent analyzing a text, searching for evidence, considering alternatives, and defending an interpretation have paid off multiple times over—I could not do my job today without those skills, or the critical worldview they foster.

Jonathan Lai
Newspaper Journalist

Undergraduate Careers

An English BA from at the University of Chicago opens up a variety of professional opportunities. Many of our graduates go on to study in prestigious graduate programs, in everything from English to law and medicine. Other English BAs use the linguistic, writing, and critical skills they have honed as undergraduates at Chicago to land jobs in fields like education, journalism, new media, publishing, public relations, technical writing, consulting, and advertising, among others. Recent graduates work everywhere from Basic Books to Google and from the Chicago Public Schools to the U.S. Department of Treasury.

Career Advancement (CA) is an university office that offers a variety of services, programs, and resources to help students prepare for entering the job market. The office strives to provide job and internship opportunities in a variety of fields and to promote University of Chicago talent to a wide range of employers and institutions. CA has also worked with students, alumni, parents, and employers to build, maintain, and access the University of Chicago's dynamic global employment network.

The Department maintains a close relationship with Career Advancement, primarily through the PRISM program. PRISM stands for Planning Resources and Involvement for Students in the Majors. The Director of Undergraduate Studies, the Undergraduate Program Assistant, and the English graduate student PRISM preceptor work with a liasion from Career Advancement to organize several  events each year that seek to get students involved in the major and thinking ahead about their career goals. The PRISM preceptor is also available to meet one-on-one with students preparing materials for graduate school, grant, and job applications. Additionally, PRISM offers two grants of its own: the PRISM Research Grant and the Seidel Scholars PRISM Grant. English majors have had much success applying for these grants in the past.

The 2018-19 PRISM Preceptor is Bill Hutchison.