Talon'ted Graduate Researcher

Non-Traditional Career Options for English Majors 


KENNESAW, Ga. (Jun 2020) — KSU graduate student Pearlie Harris has a unique area of research interest; one that has no limitations in terms of career options.  She delved into finding out the different occupations that English graduates held, many of which were not the traditional career paths taken. 

Harris, an intermediate technical writer at ISPA Inc., said that her experience in the Master of Arts in Professional Writing (MAPW) program at KSU has helped enhance her writing and editing skills.  The MAPW program is what attracted her to KSU in the first place, giving her endless career opportunities to consider and a research topic to pursue. 

“My research seeks to learn about the skills that KSU’s Bachelor of Art in English graduates learn Be Creative!and in which jobs they use those skills,” said Harris.  “In addition to the typical careers of English graduates within my research, many different occupations included careers within the legal profession, film industry, marketing, and library sciences.” 

Harris, a Tuscaloosa native, was inspired to conduct this kind of research during her class, “Issues in Research” taught by Letizia Guglielmo, a professor of English.  Harris learned about what English majors usually do for a living, what they have done, and the career possibilities they have. 

“This research is important because students who wish to study English need to know their options, professors need to understand how their curriculum affects their students in the workplace, and companies need to understand the skills that students with a bachelor’s degree in English bring to the job,” said Harris. 

She emphasized how English students can shape the world with their writing, and she learned just how significant graduate research can be while enrolled in the MAPW program. 

Research mentor Lara Smith-Sitton said that Harris exemplified what a graduate career could look like when she focused on research from the beginning. 

“Pearlie came into the program with questions about English degrees, writing degrees, and how important writing is,” said Smith-Sitton, an assistant professor of English and the department director of community engagement.  “She pursued a graduate research assistant position with me that allowed her to not only do the work that we needed but also bring the perspective of a graduate student to that work.  She took advantage of all the research opportunities available to her, so I am grateful to KSU and the graduate college for providing those opportunities for students, regardless of their major and degree.” 

Harris received a bachelor’s degree in business administration with a concentration in e-business from the University of Phoenix in Atlanta.  She graduated in May from KSU and said that she may eventually move into business writing but is undecided at the moment.