How a career-focused class helped Jahan Kahusi pick an English major.

Committing to a major can be difficult, especially when it seems like that commitment will influence the rest of your life. And if you’re not sure what career possibilities exist on the other side of your degree? It can be even scarier.

During his first two years at Oregon State University, senior Jahan Kahusi, enrolled in the University Exploratory Studies program with a focus on a general B.S. degree, and considered choosing between Kinesiology, Engineering or Nutrition, degrees that often present a straight path from college to the working world. 

But taking Professor Ray Malewitz’s Survey of American Literature 1900-Present changed Kahusi’s perspective. The course reignited his high school interest in reading stories closely and thinking about them critically, a puzzle he says can be both challenging and fascinating. One aspect of this puzzle solving is uncovering a deeper meaning that pushes past plot. 

“The eye-opening experience of realizing there was more to the story than just the story was amazing,” he says. And it got him thinking about declaring an English major. Kahusi figured his options were limited and settled on education as a future career path.

But Career Prep (ENG 399), a course offered by the English department designed to help English majors at OSU explore their career options and articulate their skills, changed that assumption. Kahusi says the class showed him that English majors weren’t confined to just one career or field like library sciences or teaching. Public relations, tech, medicine, law, community organizing, and more —  English majors go on to work in many different fields after graduation.

As an English major, he had already practiced communicating effectively, which he believes is the most valuable skill in any workplace. Forbes agrees, listing the "ability to communicate verbally with people inside and outside of the organization" and the "ability to create and/or edit written reports" as some of the top ten skills employers say they want. 

Even though Kahusi felt pressure to declare a different major, he was the most passionate about English. Career Prep gave him the confidence he needed to declare his major while showing him that English is a major with many routes to professional success.

Since taking the class, Kahusi has used the sample versions of cover letters and resumes on the class’s Canvas page to make sure he is crafting the best versions possible. Those resources have proved helpful as he looks toward applying for jobs in the future.

Kahusi isn’t sure what he wants to do after graduation, but he’s interested in user experience, an industry specializing in creative ways to collect customer feedback on products or services. He is especially excited to embark on a career that involves the very thing he loves most about English, the eye-opening experience he’d found amazing: looking at stories from various angles in order to uncover new, exciting perspectives. This might happen from his future desk at a tech start-up or at a company like Nike.

Kahusi says Career Prep doesn’t give you all the answers, but it does give you the tools to find out.