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Career Pathways for English Language Graduates. Liz Whitaker York St John University 16 th July 2008. Background.

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Career pathways for english language graduates

Career Pathways for English Language Graduates

Liz Whitaker

York St John University

16th July 2008


  • The 2nd year Language and Human Communication students at York St John University undertake a module ‘Language and Communication in the Workplace’. A three week work placement is an integral part of this module.

  • On completion of the module, students are asked to submit an Action Plan indicating their next steps towards a working life.


  • It was noticeable from the Action Plans submitted that, although students might be positive about their work experience and future career plans, they had little idea about how to put these plans into practice.

  • The tutor for the module had been notified about the project funding from the English Subject Centre, a meeting was arranged and

  • …………… enter Careers!!


  • to give English Language students an overview of some of the career paths open to them

  • to enable them to make an informed choice regarding their future professional development and effectively plan their careers from an early stage.

  • to enhance their employability through prior knowledge of the additional skills, qualifications and experience they will need to be successful in their chosen career.

  • to encourage them to make significant use of the Careers Service at York St John University

  • to better prepare themselves during their time at university for the world of work.


  • Years 1,2 and 3 current English Language and Linguistics York St John University students were given a short questionnaire. Out of approximately 60 students in each cohort, 36 first year, 41 second year and 29 final year students replied

  • 31 recent English Language York St John graduates and current students were interviewed on a one to one basis.

  • 18 Language and Linguistics York St John graduates from the 2005 cohort and 31 Language and Linguistics York St John graduates from the 2006 cohort were sent a postal questionnaire. 11 graduates responded.

  • 36 Institutions of HE in the UK were contacted regarding the destinations of their English Language/Linguistics students, 15 replied.

  • Additionally 42 interviews were conducted with practitioners and course administrators/directors as part of the project, their comments have been included in the information given in each career pathway.


  • An online and printed resource has been produced covering a total of twenty-three career pathways. For each pathway, a brief description is given plus, in most cases, a four step action plan:

  • Step 1: Do Your Research;

  • Step 2: Work Experience (by undertaking relevant work experience, students will, in many cases, enhance their chances of getting the job they want and/or successfully obtaining a place on an appropriate course);

  • Step 3: Further Study and Training;

  • Step 4: Finding Your First Job.

What next
What Next?

  • To improve contact with academic staff and provide careers sessions targeted at levels 1,2 and 3 English Language/Linguistics students.

  • To ensure that English Language/Linguistics students know that they can book a one-to-one appointment with a Careers Adviser to discuss their career plans, with follow up appointments if necessary.

  • To continue to research career pathways highlighted by English Language/Linguistics students and keep up-to-date with new developments.

  • To make the completed resource available to students of other disciplines as well as English Language/Linguistics students.

Project pluses
Project pluses!

  • Good feedback from students/graduates so far on work in progress. Survey to be conducted in the Autumn term with final year YSJ English Language students.

  • Excellent contacts were made with both practitioners and course directors/leaders. Some of whom offered to come and talk to the students at York St John University or attend events, such as information and recruitment fairs. On a number of occasions I received some really excellent feedback about York St John graduates.

  • I thoroughly enjoyed researching this project and the completed resource should be valuable not only to English Language/Linguistics students but to students of other disciplines as well. My knowledge of the various occupations has really improved and this knowledge is now being passed onto students, graduates and colleagues

  • Better links with academic staff.

  • As a result of this project, a colleague in the Careers Service has been conducting research into the career aspirations of Counselling Studies students (a fantastic response from our graduates!)

Project minuses
Project minuses!

Main problem – time!

  • Focus on a narrower range of occupations?

  • Involve other careers staff?