Posts filed under Internship Resources

English Majors: Avoid Making These 3 Common Mistakes on Your Resume

For most people I know, there is a great deal of dread and anxiety around creating or updating a resume. What should I include? How long should it be? What should it look like? And really, it’s not an easy answer—there is no clear-cut way to create a resume. In my experience, they’re all a little different.

But in going over hundreds of English majors’ resumes —whether it’s for Dear English Major or my writing business—I’ve noticed a few mistakes that are made over and over again.

Here are the 3 most common mistakes English majors make on resumes:

Mistake #1: Errors and inconsistent formatting.

Errors and inconsistent formatting are perhaps the most important aspects of a resume for English majors to avoid. When I’m searching for an English major to hire for a freelance writing gig, finding silly spelling or punctuation errors (especially more than one) or formatting inconsistencies (such as misaligned bullet points, extra spaces and unnecessary gaps in text) is a red flag.

I’m always looking for writers who can offer both a quality and close attention to detail, and it’s important that their resumes reflect the ability to do this. I recommend asking a few detail-oriented friends to look over your resume, or even hiring a professional editor (yes, even English majors need editors!). When a single piece of paper stands between you and a potential job, it’s definitely worth it!

Mistake #2: Simply too much text.

Let’s face it: English majors are known for being a bit wordy on paper! We can’t help it; it’s in our nature. We love words! But when it comes to a resume, this can be a negative thing.

When a resume is PACKED with long sentences or too many bullet points, it can be daunting to even begin reading. White space is your friend! There’s no need to use complete sentences; do your best to be succinct and to narrow in on a few key details. The ability to pare down your writing is a skill in and of itself!

Mistake #3: Poor design.

Simplicity and consistency are your friends when it comes to the design of your resume. Whether you choose to hire a graphic designer, buy a pre-made resume template or just do it yourself, you need to have a design that’s easy on the eyes (not too much text!), a font that’s easy to read, and clearly delineated sections.

Need some help getting started on your resume? Learn exactly how to craft a job-winning resume (and how to tailor it, too!) from From Graduation to Career Ready in 21 Days: A Guide for English Majors, and download a free PDF on how to tailor your resume HERE.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Alyssa W. Christensen is the creator and managing editor of DearEnglishMajor.com. She lives in Seattle, WA and provides professional writing and marketing services to a variety of clients. Alyssa is also the Managing Editor of Home Scribe Creative, a professional writing service for real estate agents. Alyssa enjoys hanging out with her husband, spoiling her dog, playing guitar and violin, painting, writing poetry, and travel. She is also the author of the book From Graduation to Career Ready in 21 Days: A Guide for English Majors. 


Is Your Resume Being Ignored? Here's One Potential Reason Why

Applying for a job is a long and time-consuming process, especially if you’ve tailored your resume and crafted an original, beautiful cover letter (both of which you should be doing!). 

(Learn how to tailor your resume for every job in the free guide available on this page!

Wouldn’t it be a shame if all that hard work went to waste?

Few applicants realize this, but if you're submitting your resume via email, your resume isn’t what gives potential employers their first impression of you. Your email will provide a first impression, and when written poorly, it could cost you a well-deserved career opportunity. 

I’ve received many emails from writers who are interested in applying for a freelance writing gig, and unfortunately, many of these emails include the following easily avoidable mistakes:

  • Incomplete sentences: To me, this signals that this position is not important to you—you couldn’t even bother to write complete sentences (when applying for a writing gig, no less). This is a red flag, and unfortunately I will not respond—it doesn’t matter how amazing your resume might be.
  • Incorrect information: Sometimes, I can tell that someone has sent me a form response. This is totally ok, except when you forget to remove information that doesn’t apply to the writing gig that I’m offering! Part of what I’m looking for is an eye for detail.
  • Errors: We all slip up now and then. I have personally hit the “send” button too soon, only to realize there was an error in the email. It’s embarrassing! Fortunately, I understand that we all make silly mistakes in life and that’s why we all need an editor! But more than one or two errors, and I’m becoming concerned about your writing abilities and again, your eye for detail.

Seeing one or more of these errors is reason enough for an employer—especially if they’re hiring a writer—to not even look at your resume!

In my book From Graduation to Career Ready in 21 Days: A Guide for English Majors, I include a handy checklist for sending applications via email. It’s a seemingly small thing, but it’s so important that I want to share it with you right here.

If you are sending your application via email, here are a few important things to do first:                                

  1. Enter your recipient’s email address LAST. You don’t want to hit the wrong key and accidentally send a half-completed email!
  2. Review the application requirements. Do you have all of the components ready? (You want to show that you can follow directions.)
  3. Add a subject line. (Is everything in it spelled correctly?)
  4. Attach appropriate documents. If it says to include writing samples in the body of an email and NOT as an attachment, then do so.
  5. Keep it short and succinct. Include your name, the position you’re applying for, a list of what is enclosed in the email, and a thank-you for their consideration.
  6. Proofread it.
  7. Ask someone else to proofread it.
  8. Finally, enter the recipient’s email address. Is the email address spelled correctly? (You want your application to actually arrive! 

Want more tips like this? Check out From Graduation to Career Ready in 21 Days: A Guide for English Majors! View an outline of the book, read reviews, and download a chapter for free here.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Alyssa W. Christensen is the creator and managing editor of DearEnglishMajor.com. She lives in Seattle, WA and provides professional writing and marketing services to a variety of clients. Alyssa is also the Managing Editor of Home Scribe Creative, a professional writing service for real estate agents. Alyssa enjoys hanging out with her husband, spoiling her dog, playing guitar and violin, painting, writing poetry, and travel. She is also the author of the book From Graduation to Career Ready in 21 Days: A Guide for English Majors


7 Things I’ve Learned Through My Internship in Development Writing

A few weeks into starting college as a Chemistry Major for Pre-Optometry, I quickly learned that it was not the path for me. So, I declared English and spent a year where I started before transferring to Northern Kentucky University. This was the best decision of my life for many reasons. Just outside of Cincinnati, my new school was the land of opportunity – which I desperately needed. Beneath the crippling question of “What can I do with my degree?” I began to panic. That is, until I learned these 7 things through landing an internship in Development Writing at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center! For those who may not know what development writing is, development is important because it fundraises to support all areas of the hospital to both sustain and improve care.

1. Use Your University’s Career Services. 

NKU’s Career Services is magical and all the workers there are fantastic. They really, truly care about us as students and want to see us succeed. They help with career planning, resume writing, interview practice and more! I’m positive that if I had not utilized all that they offer I would not have been placed in my internship. In fact, it was on my university’s job board that I found it.

2. Audience Matters

As an English Major, the focus of my studies is on the Rhetorical Situation. According to Lloyd Bitzer, every Rhetorical Situation has three main components: exigence, audience and constraints. As a Development Writer, when I draft Letters of Intent/Inquiry (LOIs) and proposals, my audience is the donor. The exigence, or problem needing addressed, is whatever project for which I am asking funding. The constraints are the funding interests and focuses of the donor. Development writing is never really about the need, it is always about the donor and how they can make a difference. This is why knowing the audience is extremely important.

3. Experience is Experience is Experience

Sometimes during my internship I work on huge grant proposals. Other times I spend days stuffing envelopes. As an English Major, I’d always rather be writing. Stuffing envelopes was not part of my job description when I was hired, but I’m beginning to learn a lot about how Development works this way. There’s more to it than just asking for and receiving money as relationships need to be made and maintained to keep the funding coming. This is why it’s important to keep the donors updated about the hospital through mailings and I’m learning that there is no such thing as bad experience. Especially when it’s paid!

4. Your Professors Were Right

During Syllabus Week, professors often say that no late assignments are accepted. That’s because they’re not. As I stated earlier, Development is all about the donor. What they say goes because it’s their money. When they set deadlines it’s very important for proposal writers and project leads to adhere to the donor’s timeline. This is because if a deadline is missed, then the donor has every right to deny funding. What’s worse is if a grant has already been awarded and a reporting deadline is missed, then the money can even be taken away! Development is a very time-sensitive business.

5. Some Days Are Easier Than Others

I’ve never been as happy or as stressed as I am at my internship. Working at a not-for-profit organization means that I get to contribute to really important work that helps save lives. However, it also means that my internship comes with a lot of pressure. Failure to write grant-winning proposals means that the hospital doesn’t receive the funding it needs and this is definitely not an internship for the faint of heart. However, I believe that nothing worth having comes easy and I believe that is true of all internships.

I continually hold the argument that English Majors are some of the hardest working students in any university. This is because we practice daily all the skills that employers seek. We know how to meet deadlines, collaborate, communicate and receive criticism. Most importantly, though, we as English Majors know rhetoric.

6. Luck Has Nothing To Do With It

As an intern, I get told a lot that I’m “lucky” even though I’m not. I earned my internship as a result of my hard work. It’s not something I found at the end of a rainbow one day, it’s something I looked for weeks to find. I continually hold the argument that English Majors are some of the hardest working students in any university. This is because we practice daily all the skills that employers seek. We know how to meet deadlines, collaborate, communicate and receive criticism. Most importantly, though, we as English Majors know rhetoric. 

7. I Can Do Anything With My Degree

If it wasn’t obvious by my leading question “What can I do with my degree?” I’m an extremely anxious individual. I’m always looking to the future and how I can secure success. This internship, though, has taught me that it’s not always about the future. Sometimes it’s important to focus on the moment at hand, and in this moment I am an intern. At the end of the day, internships are all about learning. I’m learning about Development, writing and myself. 

Thanks to the combination of my internship and Dear English Major, I’m learning that as an English Major, I can do anything I want with my degree. And so can you.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Shannon Winter begins her final semester of undergrad this week at Northern Kentucky University where she majors in English with a track in Writing Studies and she minors in Public Service. She recently finished her yearlong internship with Cincinnati Children's and is about to begin a co-op with the City of Cincinnati. Shannon lives in Northern Kentucky with her longtime boyfriend and their two cats. She loves pop-punk music, donuts, and Parks and Recreation. Feel free to follow her on Twitter or connect with her on LinkedIn


How to Find Your Perfect Internship in 5 Steps

As an English major, you've probably heard the question "So what are you going to do with that degree?" from everyone you know. Well, college is the perfect time to figure out the answer to that question, as well as hone your skills and make connections. One of the most efficient ways of gaining experience and getting your foot in the door while you are still in college is an internship. Here are some tips for finding your perfect internship! 

1. Identify your goals. 

What do you want to get out of an internship? Do you want to become an expert at copy-editing? Do you dream of having 300 LinkedIn connections? Do you want to make sure that you really do want to be a writer for a newspaper? Try to figure out your must-haves for your internship experience. When I was applying for internships, I made a list of the experiences and skills that I wished to gain from an internship, and I searched for internships that would offer me those opportunities. This list proved invaluable when I ended up being accepted to two internships and could only pick one! 

2. Do some research. 

You're probably really good at researching by now, and here is a chance to apply those skills to the internship hunt! Identify companies in your area (or elsewhere, if you are able to move for an internship) that offer internships. I highly recommend internships.com, indeed.com, LinkedIn, and even Facebook (who knows—your aunt's employer may need an intern this summer!). Your college career center and professors may also have some good ideas. If you can, talk to past or current interns as part of your research to help determine if this internship would help you complete your goals. Use glassdoor.com to read what full employees think about the companies that you research as well. This can also help you figure out if the internship is with a legitimate company that will help you achieve your identified goals.  

3. Do some spring-cleaning and ask for feedback. 

Polish your resume, LinkedIn profile and social media profiles. It helps to think about applying for internships as practice for applying for your first job after college. This is a great opportunity to get feedback (from your college career center and employers alike) and figure out what employers will look for in your resume and profiles. Working on your resume and profiles can also help you figure out what you desire in an internship—if you are really interested in a career in marketing, but you don't have much experience in the field yet, an internship with a marketing agency or in the marketing department of a company would be very beneficial. 

4. Follow the companies' processes for applying to internships. 

Again, this is good practice for applying to your first job after college. Make sure that you submit all requested materials (usually a resume and cover letter, but some employers may also request writing samples). If the company gets in touch with you regarding your application, reply professionally and politely. 

5. Selecting the internship. 

If you get multiple acceptances, think back on your goals and try to identify which internship would benefit you most. It may help as well to ask targeted questions of your potential employer, such as "Would I have the opportunity to work with the editing team during this internship?" to make sure that you would gain the skills and experiences that you desire. If you get one acceptance, still make sure that the internship is right for you. If it isn't, don't worry, and keep applying! Employers update their internship openings regularly (peak times tend to be from December to May for summer internships, in my experience), so don't lose hope. With some research, patience, and determination, you will find your perfect internship! 


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Teddi Strassburger will be graduating from Georgia College in Milledgeville, GA in May 2016 with a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature and a minor in French. She is the editor-in-chief of The CorinthianGeorgia College’s student research journal, and she is currently interning as a copy-editor. When she isn’t playing with words, Teddi can be found giving tours on campus, watching movies about space and/or superheroes, and trying to plan another trip to Paris. You can find her at her LinkedIn.


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Posted on December 6, 2015 and filed under Articles, Featured Articles, Internship Resources.

What English Majors Need to Know About Interning in a Technical Field

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My name is Sabrina Hardy, and I graduated with a BA and an MA in English from Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia. Whatever I do, wherever I go, I’m always looking for new opportunities to hone my writing skills. This summer, one such opportunity presented itself in a very unexpected manner: a technical internship.

When you graduate with a Master’s degree in English, you generally don’t think about interning or working in a technical field, unless you took some specific courses on technical writing. I never took those classes, so when I interviewed for a writing internship with e-360 Technologies, an electronics reuse company in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, I was excited but also understandably nervous when I was actually offered the position. I knew it would be a lot of work and research, but I don’t think I was quite prepared for how much I would have to learn for a field I knew little-to-nothing about.

As it turns out, the research, writing, and editing skills I gained through five years of English classes gave me an excellent foundation for the writing I was assigned in this internship! It was three months of challenging and rewarding work, and I’d like to share my experience with you, along with some application for those of you who are looking into technical internships or are wary about doing so!

Interning in a Technical Field Will Definitely Require Research

As English majors, we’re used to research-intensive projects. Most of us thrive on those late night library and database research sessions, and we wield our newfound knowledge as if we were born knowing all of it. It certainly came in handy for me this time, as the research was the most difficult part of my work.

e360 Technologies works with local businesses and individual clients, taking their used and out-of-date electronics, like computers and cellphones, and refurbishing them for re-release into the market or, if the piece of tech is past the point of no return, they recycle the various electrical components in an environmentally-conscious way. I didn’t know anything about any of that at the time, so when I started work, I had a lot to learn.

My research involved learning the technical terms for the business’s areas of expertise, figuring out the negative environmental impacts of merely throwing away electronics instead of reusing and recycling, the process of building a computer, what minerals and elements go into all the various components of a PC, which sites are going to give me government facts, which sources are best for local news, and pretty much everything you can think of when it comes to this kind of business. Each new project every week meant starting from scratch on my research, so I now have a veritable library of sources on the subject.

  • My takeaway advice? Build your knowledge base right away. Find out exactly what the company you’ll be interning for does. Go through the website, do some research into that kind of business, and compile a list of basic terms and concepts you need to know. Research all of the above, take notes, and save the file before you even start working. It’ll help you feel less lost and will also give you a great starting point for each assignment. Every day that I didn’t have an assignment to work on, I was researching possible terminology, government websites, pollution data, and everything else that could possibly relate to my work. (Anyone want to know how many minerals go into the making of a computer? Anyone?)

Your Writing Skills Are Absolutely Necessary

We few, we happy few, we band of English majors are no strangers to the art of writing. Most of us join English programs either because we’re already really good at writing or we want to become stellar at it. And really, any job that lets us keep writing is one we tend to jump at. Writing in a technical field, at least in this case, is actually right up my alley. Once I had the terminology and statistical know-how from my research, the actual writing didn’t take long at all.

I’ve written a press release for the company, blog posts about pollution and depreciation, emails to clients, and several other written assignments for the company. I start each one with an outline, write multiple drafts, use the vast array of witty words and intelligent phrases at my disposal, and demonstrate my generally impeccable grammar. Writing the kind of articles expected from me in this field uses all the same talents I already have; it just exercises some slightly different creative muscles within those groups.

  • My takeaway advice? You can apply the same skills you learned from writing essays to “real world” writing assignments. Follow the same process you would for writing a paper on the Marxist ramifications of class distinctions in The Iliad, or whatever it was you wrote last term. Keep a clear outline in your head, have a strong thesis statement (even if it’s not one you need to write down), define your terms, and support every claim you make. You’ll have to simplify and perhaps cut down on your natural verbosity, but your well-honed writing talents will help you excel in these assignments.

So, What’s Next?

If you’re interested in an internship of this kind, what do you need to do? Well, the primary focus is the writing, so make sure you have a diversity of skills. I’ve written two theses and who knows how many academic papers, but I also write creatively, publish with some online contemporary issues magazines, and regularly contribute to a blog. The more variety you have in your writing, the better your resume will be and the easier time you’ll have of adapting to the requirements of the job.

Also, familiarize yourself in advance with the company you want to intern for and do some pre-interview research. Is it the kind of work you’d need an actual class for? Or is it something you can research and learn on the job?

But above all, be confident. You’re an English major: you can write, you can research, you’ve got this.


About the Author

Sabrina Hardy is a swing-dancing, book-loving nerd of a teacher from Tucson, Arizona. She taught writing at the collegiate level for two years at Liberty University and is currently preparing to move to Poznań, Poland, to take up a position as an English language instructor. Beyond her academic publications, she’s written for Christianity Today’s Her.meneutics and Today’s Christian Woman in addition to working on a novel and regularly blogging for The Art of Writing and her personal travel blog, My Kingdom for a TARDIS.

Posted on August 30, 2015 and filed under Articles, Featured Articles, Internship Resources.