by Sara Curnow Wilson

What do you do with a BA in English? Take your pick.

From mayoral campaigns to musicology, recent Temple grads are putting their English degrees to work in a variety of fields and careers.  

Allie Amado ’15, who accepted a job managing donations for former Philadelphia District Attorney Lynne Abraham’s mayoral campaign after graduation, says that her English degree (with a concentration in creative writing) helped shape the writing and analytical reading skills critical for that job. 

“The ability to connect ideas and tell a story really helped me in the fundraising world, because that’s a huge part of the job,” she says. “People are motivated to give money when they cannot only see who and how their donation is helping but also how it aligns with their own history and ideology.” 

In addition to making use of her strong communication abilities, Amado has pulled from the research background she developed at Temple. After attending a class visit to the anthropology lab, she decided to pursue an independent study for which she did archival research. She turned her findings into a creative piece about the lab’s history for her Honors Scholars project. 

Amado says the narrative skills she gained translating her research into the honors project help her speak to possible donors.

These communication skills also helped her secure her current position as a fundraiser with the Children’s Literacy Initiative. Amado is currently applying for law school, joining many others who have transitioned from an undergraduate career in English to a graduate program in another field. 

The humanities, for me, function in a continuum, and I feel lucky to carve out a niche for myself within it.

Mark Inchoco ’12, a historical musicology PhD student at the University of California, Riverside, found that the training he received in his English classes serves him well in his new field. 

“I use my English degree every day,” he says. “As a musicologist, I use the same tools to look at a musical score or an opera or a film score as I would be, say, analyzing a poem by Yeats or a novel by Virginia Woolf.” 

For Inchoco, the subject matter has changed but the work is similar. “I don’t see much of a distinction between what I was doing as an English major and what I currently do as a musicologist,” he explains. “The humanities, for me, functions in a continuum, and I feel lucky to carve out a niche for myself within it.”

Finding this niche can take some work. Journalist Tony Abraham ’13 supported himself freelancing after graduation before landing his full time job with Generocity. He describes it as a difficult time, one he was able to get through by sustaining a habit he started in college: writing something new every day. 

“Whether I was cooped up in my apartment on 18th and Oxford or hogging an entire booth at Draught Horse, I made a point to write something for myself every day besides schoolwork. It's how I discovered my forte — creative nonfiction — and honed in on what those stories can look and feel like.”

“My English degree taught me how to communicate my thoughts clearly, intelligently and intentionally,” Abraham says.

Reflecting on the wide translatability of the English degree, Associate Professor Katherine Henry says she is not surprised that recent graduates have found success in such a wide range of fields. 

“Repeatedly, employers tell us that they are looking to hire people who can think both critically and creatively,” she says. “Our English major at Temple — with its emphasis on both creative and critical scholarship, and the option of a creative writing concentration — is ideally suited to prepare students to succeed in the corporate and non-profit sectors, in academic professions, and in entrepreneurial endeavors.”

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