Monthly Archives: October 2015

Graduate School: The What, When, Where, and How

By: Sarah Bonney

For anyone thinking about a career in academics, graduate school is a must, and even if you’re not, an English MA or PhD can be a valuable addition to your English BA and your ability as a reader, writer, and critic. Although graduate school isn’t for everyone and a graduate degree isn’t necessary for every career, deciding if, when, and where to go to graduate school can be an overwhelming decision. If you’re wondering if graduate school just might be for you, here’s a little information to give you a taste of what graduate school means and how to get your application started.


Master’s Degree- An English MA takes 1-2 years depending on the school. You have the chance to hone your analysis and writing skills as you take classes based on a specialty you select early in your program. While an English BA gives you an overview of English literature and the various genres of English literature, an MA allows you to specialize in a subject of your choice; some example of specialities include Medieval Studies, Creative Writing, 20th Century American Literature, and so on.

PhD- An English PhD takes 4-6 years depending on the school. If you aim to teach at the university level, you will need a PhD. Similarly to an MA, you will specialize, but your research and education will be at a deeper level than that of an MA. In the past, prospective PhD students were required to have completed an MA before applying, but in recent years, many schools have begun allowing students without an MA to enroll in PhD programs. This is dependent on university policy.


While many choose graduate school years after they graduate with their BA as a career changer or a promotion catalyst, going to graduate school right after undergraduate is arguably the easiest transition. However, graduate school can be a beneficial choice at any stage in life, and the decision of when is based on personal circumstances.


After deciding you’d like to attend graduate school, your next big decision is where to apply. There are many factors you’ll want to consider when looking at schools, and it does require some research. Here are some questions to be thinking about when considering a school’s location:

* Geographically, is it somewhere I’d like to live? If you’re considering a PhD, you will be living there for 4-6 years.

* How expensive would it be to live in this area? Living in New York City is a lot more expensive than living in Provo.

* If you’re single and ready to mingle: How big is the YSA ward in the area? You can check this on

* Does this school have faculty members I would be interested in working with? On your application, you need to select faculty members you would like to work with. This is also something you’ll want to address in your statement of purpose. (See “How?”)

Visiting schools is highly recommended before applying. A quick day trip to the campus will give you a better feel for the school than hundreds of hours on their university website.


In order to attend any graduate school, you need to apply and be accepted. Application deadlines range from early December through April during the academic year preceding the year you plan to enroll in a graduate program. Most English graduate school programs require:

1. An online application accessible on their university website

2. A writing sample. Requirements can range from 6-20 pages.

3. A GRE test score. You may also need to take the GRE English Literature subject test, although not all graduate school applications require it.

4. Three letters of recommendation.

5. Statement of purpose. This is your application essay.

6. Transcript(s) from all previously attended universities.

7. Curriculum Vitae/Resume.

8. Application fee. This varies depending on the school.

Some Final Words

Deciding if, when, and where to go to graduate school are intimidating decisions, but if you have questions about whether it could be right for you, there are people on campus reading and willing to help. Make an appointment with an advisor or, even better, stop by one of your professor’s office hours. Any one of them will have an MA, a PhD, or both and will most likely be happy to talk to you about their experiences and your concerns.

My Story Episode 009

This week’s episode features Adrian Thayn and Hadley Griggs, editor-in-chief and staffer for BYU’s Creative Writing Journal Inscape, discussing their experiences working on the journal and the benefits of being involved with a publication.

English+ and Internships: How to Get Your Dream Job

By: Sarah Bonney

Once our first couple years of college come to a close, parents, professors, advisors, and friends start dropping “internship” like it’s the newest slang. “It makes you stand out!” “You’d get some great experience.” “You won’t be able to get a good job unless you’ve done at least one.” “Graduate schools love students who’ve done internships!” There’s a lot of talk about how great they can be but significantly less conversation about how to get one in the first place.

Finding and doing an internship can seem overwhelming, especially to any student who’s been told their major isn’t a moneymaker. However, it’s a lot easier than you’d think. For the last few years, Humanities Plus (Humanities+) has provided resources for internships and other career building experiences to Humanities majors. Recently, English Plus (English+) debuted to guide English majors. English Plus focuses on helping English majors build professional skills during their time at BYU. There are numberless opportunities for English majors in the workplace; however, in order to get a dream job, an English BA might need a bit of a makeover.

You’ve all heard the story where the already wonderful girl wants the guy, but she doesn’t think she has a chance. But then, her friend or fairy godmother or someone else shows up and gives her the makeover of a lifetime. Post makeover, the guy can’t take his eyes off her and dreams come true all over the place. The English major is to the girl as your dream job  is to the dreamboat; English Plus is your fairy godmother. Need a ride to the ball? Talk to an academic advisor.

With classes, on-campus jobs, and other obligations, it’s easy to feel you don’t have the time to do an internship, but there are options on-campus. The Marriott Center offers On-Campus Internships (OCI). In an OCI, a student is assigned to work with a small team of other students; together they complete a project for a company such as Amazon, Pearson, or another big name. If you’re less interested in business, the Ballard Center for Economic Self-Reliance also offers internships on campus; however, these internships are focused on helping the community and humanitarian efforts.

Internships for BYU English majors are available literally around the world. Although international travel can be pricey, funding is available for unpaid academic internships through each department in the College of the Humanities, including the English Department. $2000 is available for international internships, $1000 is available for a national internship outside of Utah, and $500 is available for in-state and local internships that are not on campus. You can apply for these grants by contacting Prof. Dave Fife, the English Department’s internship coordinator.

There are plenty of people who believe that an English major is impractical, but you can prove them wrong. With a little help from English Plus and maybe an internship or two, you’ll have your dreamboat before you know it.

My Story Podcast Episode 008

This week’s episode features Dr. Jamin Rowan, the coordinator for BYU’s new English+ initiative. Davis and Dr. Rowan discuss the goals of English+ and some interesting ways English majors can fill the new requirements and make the most of their degree.

For more information on the English+ initiative visit

All About the Publishing Industry

One of the great motivations behind students in the English major is a love of books. A lot goes into the making of books: reading, writing, editing, designing, publishing, and more. Many English majors choose to focus on the first two elements, but there is so much more that they could do!

Here, I’ll briefly summarize the primary roles in the publishing industry. For each of these roles, there are resources to help students prepare.


If you’re an English major who likes to write . . . you’re in good company! Authors often work freelance. They can hone their skills by writing on a particular topic with a specific magazine or company, by working through a website that assigns topics to them, or by producing works of their own creation and publishing either commercially or electronically.

One of the best ways to become a good author is to write. A lot. Another thing is to read. A lot. (Especially within the field you want to contribute to.) Students can form writing groups to help them polish their work and get experience helping other writers problem-solve. There are a huge variety of classes about writing, so pick one that focuses on the kind that interests you: persuasive writing, creative writing, technical writing, and many others.


There isn’t a lot on campus about becoming a literary agent, but it’s an important piece to the publishing industry. Many publishers only look at submissions that are represented by an agent. The agent gets to represent the author and help negotiate the contract for the manuscript. They’re paid with a cut of the royalties, so if you’ve caught the scent of who the next J. K. Rowling will be, this is definitely the career for you.

The best way to break into a career as an agent is to work as, essentially, an apprentice to a professional agent, preferably one with an established client-base. Look up some agencies and see what books they’ve helped along. If you recognize the titles, then they’re probably a great source of insight. See if they’ll be willing to let you interview them.


Many English majors make use of the editing minor already. It’s definitely growing in popularity, and works as a great supplement to essentially any major. For those interested in editing, there are a wide variety of options.

Copyediting is the most similar to what most people think of when they imagine an “editor.” Copyeditors focus mostly on sentence-level structure, such as spelling, grammar, punctuation, and other mechanics. They’re needed in every field. A copyeditor’s skills are useful in essentially every other editing role as well. ELang 350 teaches students these skills, and every semester there are openings in the LDS Magazine Internship for professional experiences.

Acquisitions editors are responsible for finding and approving the manuscripts to be published by the publishing house. They need to be well-versed in the direction of the market and have a strong instinct for recognizing good writing. Acquisitions editors also work with authors with developmental editing, which helps the author prepare their manuscript’s content to be accepted and put under contract with the publishing house. A variety of student journals on campus offer students a chance to experiment with choosing new content for a publication, and ELang 430 gives students the opportunity to develop a manuscript as if for publication.

Substantive editors work more with the content of the manuscript. They review the large-scale issues with the manuscript, like flow, consistency, and purpose. Frequently, especially in smaller publishing houses, the editor will wear more than one hat, and the substantive editor will be the copyeditor and acquisitions editor all at once. If you prefer more specialization, look to work in a larger publishing house. For experience in this type of editing, take ELang 410 or apply to work with the Writing Fellows on campus.


This isn’t one that seems obvious to most English majors, but the design element of publishing is huge. A designer is responsible for the interior layout and visual orientation of the manuscript. Designers often use software like InDesign and Illustrator. They may also be responsible for designing the covers of the books, or at the minimum they’ll work with an artist on it.

The editing minor requires Dight 230, a class about print publishing that offers an introduction to the Adobe Creative Suite. Some designers in publishing have a Graphic Design major, but publishing companies are finding that they cost more to hire than others with comparable skills. There is a new minor called digital humanities and technologies that offers in-depth training on useful software skills, but if you’re not up for that Dight 230 will give you an idea of if this is the path for you.


This is another lesser known role. That could be because a publisher is typically the businessman of the group. This role requires a very business-minded perspective and a willingness to take risks. Publishers furnish the overhead costs of publication, so they make a large percent of the profit in the book business. The publisher has the final say on what gets published, how it’s published, and where it’s sold. Larger publishing houses will rely on in-house publicists and marketing groups to make decisions that in a smaller company they would’ve made themselves.

There are lots of new publishing houses popping up in Utah. If you’re the entrepreneurial type, look up a couple of them to see what distinguishes them from the others that are out there. New and old publishers alike will send representatives to writing conventions and conferences. These representatives can answer questions, offer advice, and sometimes they have enough room in their office to fit an intern.

In Preparation

The editing minor opens students up to the world of publishing, as does the Dight minor and several others. Career-oriented classes like the ones suggested here give students confidence and direction in their search for internship and work experiences.

There are many professional roles in the publishing world many English majors could easily qualify themselves for with a little foresight and preparation. What about the publishing industry appeals to you, my fellow book lovers?

Major English News Episode 008

BYU’s English Society presents Episode 008 of its weekly video news show, featuring hosts Chalene Riser and Davis Blount.

Jimmy Fallon Video and Poetry Slam Winners:

My Story Podcast:

English Symposium Submissions:

Behind the Scenes: What it Takes to Produce “Major English News”

By Jeff Morley

As Officers of the BYU English Society, we do a lot to provide our doting fans and fellow club members with content that they can read, write, think about, participate in, watch, hug, hit on, etc. We strive diligently to be there for our beloved club members. So what does it take to provide you with this constant stream of content? How about we take a peek behind the scenes of “Major English News,” our weekly news video.

Every Friday after our weekly officer meeting, there is this mysterious, yet extremely beneficial room held on the fourth floor of the Harold B. Lee Library where we do our filming for “Major English News.” It is aptly named the Production room. I didn’t even know this room existed until becoming a part of the BYU English Society. The Media Center, where the Production room can be found, is an invaluable source for filming, editing, and even renting video equipment at the disposal of BYU’s students.

Once we get all of the lights, microphones, and camera set up in the Production room, we get down to business to come up with the various news and events to cover for the week.

With all that info on a whiteboard, it is time to begin recording. The ever so debonair Davis Blount, and the glamorous Chalene Riser, check their teeth, tune their voices, and make themselves camera ready to begin shooting. As the camera begins to roll, magic happens. With only bullet points covering the various news and events, Chalene and Davis artistically come up with the weekly video content. I have to admit, those two were born for the big screen. Witty and quicker than ever, they come up with four minutes of dialogue with little to no script.

I wish I could say that the “Major English News” is filmed in one flawless take, but perfection takes time and multiple shots. During and after filming, we check for sound and lighting issues and then take it to post-production.

Also available to students at the Media Center is an array of programs for editing and producing film and photographs. For the “Major English News,” we use two Adobe programs called “Premiere Pro” and “After Effects.” “Premiere Pro” takes care of all of the editing, in particular lighting and sound issues, and “After Effects” provides manipulation of the green screen, graphics used, and transitions between shots.


When that week’s news is edited, it is then sent over to Professor Gideon Burton, our Club Faculty Administrator, for any corrections. Once it is found ready for the public, it is uploaded to YouTube and linked with the various URL’s to more club information. It is then accessible to the public.


And that’s a wrap! From recording to uploading, it is typically a two to three day process. We enjoy putting this all together for you, and we hope you enjoy it too. All we ask is that you get involved. Watch! Listen! Take whatever step is necessary stay current with the English Department and the BYU English Society. We promise we will never leave you disappointed.

What Can I Do With An English Major

By: Jessica Romrell

The Editing Minor

The number one question I get when I tell people I am an English major is, “What are you going to do with that?”

At first, I never knew how to answer this question. The truth was that I just love English, and I chose the English major because I love the study of literature and I love to read and write.

And if I’m being honest (and I know I’m not the only one here), the other reason I could never answer that question was because I always wondered what would happen if I got married, and my primary role was not to be the moneymaker.

One day I said to my dad, “I just want to get paid to read! Can I just get paid to read?” Not long after that, I saw the movie The Proposal. The main character in the movie played by Sandra Bullocks plays an editor at an established publishing company. For her job, she read manuscripts, talked to authors, and published books. She got paid to read books.

From that point on, I determined that someday I would get paid to read. That started my journey into editing. I found the editing minor at BYU, which is full of courses that are made for grammar geeks and book nerds.

What is Editing?

Whenever people ask me this, I tell them that editing is what happens when a book nerd and a grammar geek are combined. Editing involves working with an author to make changes on their manuscript to make them look better.

And editor is the go-between person between a reader and a writer (and sometimes also a publisher). An editor will help the author say what they’re trying to say, and say it well. An editor will be behind the scenes, helping the reader by making the sentence structure of a manuscript clear.

An editor gets paid to read, but even more than that, to think, to find gaps and plot holes, places where characters could be developed greater. And an editor also finds the misspellings in a document, the subject-verb agreement errors, and other things that will make the author look good.

There are two main elements to editing: substantive editing and copy editing. Substantive editing is working with the big picture. Are there plot holes? Does this character say something that seems “out of character?” Did Sonya just walk in the door twice in one paragraph, but never walk out? This is the essence of substantive editing.

Copy editing involves fixing the commas that are out of place. That quote that isn’t quite correct, and the “they’re” that should really be “their.”

Options Within Editing and Publications

There is a secret about on-campus jobs that few people know. There are two jobs offered just about anywhere on campus, and they happen to be the two highest-paying student jobs: computer programming and editing.

Almost every college on campus has their own computer programmers and their own editors. Student editing jobs run from $11 an hour to $15 an hour.

In the world of publishing, everyone needs an editor. There are four main areas involved with the editing world: magazine editing, book editing, freelancing, and graphic design.

Magazine Editing

Magazine editing involves editing articles that will be published in a magazine. This means that you are probably working with the same few authors, with an occasional new author. In magazine editing, you work on site and with several other editors performing rounds of substantive and copy edits on articles. In general, when working with magazines, you will be involved in all stages of editing, not any particular one.

Magazine editing is fast-paced, and deadlines are of the utmost importance (since most magazines publish on a monthly basis), meaning you will almost always be busy. However, magazine editing can be highly rewarding, and will make you an expert on a host of topics. As an editor, you will be reading articles that fall into many different genres, and you will have to learn a lot about a specific topic in a very short period of time. But if you like to learn, this is a wonderful option for you!

Book Editing

Book editing is what I witnessed in The Proposal. In book editing, you work for a publishing company. Most publishing companies already limit the genres that they publish. For instance, the publishing company Tor specifically publishes science fiction and fantasy novels. However, there are many publishing companies that publish books in several genres.

In book publishing, you will not necessarily be involved in all stages of editing. Many publishing companies will hire a specific editor to be in charge of acquisitions and substantive editing and a different editor to be in charge of the copy editing. This means you will specialize in one particular area.

In book editing, there is also an added element of pitching ideas. This is especially true if you are the editor in charge of acquisitions. When you find a submission that you think is publish-worthy, you would then pitch it to the board and try and convince them to buy it.

Unlike magazine editing, in book editing, you will likely be working with a different author each time. Occasionally you will work with an author who is writing a series being published by your company, but each time you edit you’ll be editing something new.

The editing will also likely be genre specific, taking away the element of learning that you’d get from magazine editing, but adding an element of fun. This is especially fun if you just love to read.

Beware of confidentiality! As much as you love to read these books and as much as you just want to go home and talk about them with all of your friends, most publishing companies maintain a confidentiality policy that prohibits you from saying anything about any of the submissions before the books are actually published.

Freelance Editing

Freelance editing is becoming bigger and bigger as self-publishing is increasing. Traditionally, when an author wants to publish a book, they submit to a publishing company, who buys their book. Then their book goes through editing with the editors hired by said company, and then the book gets published!

This option has traditionally been the most common because publishing a book is very complicated and often very expensive. There is the editing, of course, but then there is also the designing of the book, selecting the art, contracting with book stores, and then, of course, the actual printing of the book, which is very expensive.

Publishing companies often have their own photographers, already have contracts set up with various book stores, and get discounted prices on printing because they print so often.

However, recent print on demand technology has changed everything. Now, there are options to sell your book through electronic websites like Amazon, reducing the cost of printing. While this is still far more expensive for the author, there are still many authors out there who prefer self-publishing to a publishing company.

This has opened up a whole new area of freelancing editing. These authors still need editors to edit the book. They still need designers to design the book. But instead of working for a company, this work can now be done at home.

With freelancing, you will likely acquire friends as you edit. People will send you their work, like it (or not) and then send you any work they do in the future. You will also get a variety of work, ranging from editing blog articles to novels to technical manuals.

Some of the work will be boring, but it can all be done from home, which provides a fantastic option to stay-at-home moms who want to earn money on the side.

Graphic Design

Graphic design is an area that is oddly linked in with the editing minor. As you progress through the courses and volunteer on student journals, you will find more and more “editing minors” who don’t really want to edit, they want to design.

As a designer for a magazine, book company, or even as a freelancer, you will work primarily with InDesign in the creation of documents and books. You will choose the art that goes best with the book, the fonts for the title, where the page numbers will fall, what colors will be used, and everything else that goes into the final product of a book.

This can be very fun. If you like to create things, this is the niche for you! Many companies (book or magazine) will hire a designer who never touches the manuscript except when they are placing it into the design frames of the templates they have created.

The Big Picture

The truth is that there are endless options within editing. You could work as a freelancer from home. You could work for a publishing company. You could be a blog writer, and edit the blogs for a company. You could work as a technical editor, editing the instruction manuals for crockpots.

There is never any shortage of things to read, which means that there is always a need for editors. If you noticed right off the bat that Harry Potter saw thestrals in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, but the carriages were still horseless at the end of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire after Cedric died, editing is the right minor for you. Whether you’re a writer, designer, creator, reviser, or just someone who loves to read, there is a place within editing for you.