What Should I Major in to Best Prepare Me for a Writing Job in the “Real World?”

Guess what? I don’t care and neither does any employer. Here’s what does matter — your real life experiences. That means internships and work you’ve done in the real world. Here’s a wake-up call for you: you’re already living in the real world. Even though you think college is this magical bubble that excuses you from working in the real world, you’re wrong. The real world is all around you. Again, you’re living in it whether you like it or not.

Don’t be scared. This is good news. It means that nothing is stopping you from pitching your favorite magazine or publishing your own novel. You don’t have to wait until the day a degree is put in your hand. Flash forward to graduation day and I promise you that you will not necessarily feel any more prepared to face the real world than you do now. I promise you that sitting in a classroom will not prepare you for a job. Only real experience in a workplace will prepare you for real experience in a workplace.

So start blogging. Start pitching. Start tweeting. Start networking. Start interning. Start working. All that experience will add up big time while you’re in school. Then by the time that diploma is placed in your hand, you actually will feel more confident. Watch this video from Ira Glass (LOVE HIM) on how important it is for creatives to start producing a body of work.

“What nobody tells people who are beginners — and I really wish someone had told this to me  is that all of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, and it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase. They quit.

Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know it’s normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.”

And if you are still looking for an answer to “What should I major in?!” I’d say that if you’re debating between English or Creative Writing or Journalism, choose the major in which you will learn the most and that will diversify your skills the most. And try to take a class or two from different kinds of writing majors. I majored in Journalism as well as a second major in TV and Film. I took a screenwriting class and a TV news reporting class in addition to my typical reporting classes. I wish I took a public relations class and a creative writing class too. I learned something different from each of these classes, but they all helped further my writing career.

The moral of the story is this: take advantage of the learning experiences around you, but don’t let them define or limit your career.

Aubre Andrus is a freelance writer in Chicago who specializes in copywriting, blogging, reporting, and social media consulting. View her website and portfolio at www.aubreandrus.com or find her on Twitter @aubreandrus.