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What do Michael Eisner (former Disney CEO), Toni Morrison, Steven Spielberg, Mario Cuomo, B. F. Skinner, Diane Sawyer, and John Legend have in common? They all majored in English literature!

There are few majors more practical or flexible than English and Comparative Literature. Employers in nearly every field prize the skills gained in this major: written and oral communication, editing, problem solving, critical thinking, and analysis. ECL majors prove proficient in key areas: they can write effectively for a variety of audiences and purposes, they are capable of nuanced interpretation, and they know how to work independently.

Unlike students of nursing or landscape architecture, for example, in which training is focused to one particular field, ECL majors develop a wide range of transferable skills that prepare them to work in countless fields, including education, communications, government, non-profit, philanthropy, business, high technology, the arts, health and human services, or law. This variety means that it is important that you translate your major-based skills into language that broad audiences can understand to ensure that your wide range of options is an 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 (see below), 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, the Director of Undergraduate Studies and your other professors and advisors. You can make an appointment with Dr. Lithgow via the Academic Advising website at

University Career Services are another 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 here.

For some tips on how to translate what you learned in ECL classes into language that will appeal to potential employers, check out these videos from Jenn Williamson, a ECL alum.


Are you interested in doing an internship for credit? For more information on the ECL Internship Program, visit our internships page.

Dr. Hilary Lithgow is the current Internship Program Coordinator. To receive more information about the program, or to discuss potential partnerships, please contact her at You may also contact Dr. Lithgow at

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 or some of the alumni spotlighted on ECL’s website.



LinkedIn Page for English Department

How to Succeed in Business with an English Major