Typically, when you think of careers with an English major, you think of someone becoming a novelist or a professor who teaches English. However, many Xavier graduates, like Caitrin Reilly, have used their English major for other career options.
Reilly (BA English and minor in biology, 2012) is a research attorney for Kanner and Whiteley, a litigation boutique headquartered in New Orleans. Her research thus far has focused primarily on natural resource damage assessments, the Oil Pollution Act and multidistrict litigation.
"I had known I wanted to go to law school since I was 15," she says. "I thought having an English major would be best, plus a biology minor because I wanted to do environmental law. But I didn't take any classes with the intent I was going to go to law school. I just wanted to take classes I thought were interesting. I took a lot of British literature."
Reilly admits to being a bit surprised how much those literature classes have helped her. "There are a lot of days where I really miss sitting in class and just talking about literature. It was always great. Just bouncing ideas off each other really helped my critical and creative thinking. I think that's really shown through in my legal writing."
She also credits her English major with making her professional writing more effective.
"Legal writing is very formulaic, so you can't be super creative," she says. "But in crafting arguments, I write a lot of journal articles which gives you a greater stage to be more creative and expressive with your thoughts. And I really enjoy that."
Reilly isn't the only one to find joy in writing. Recently, the University did a study that revealed most students are now entering English majors for the writing component. In response, the College of Arts and Sciences is now pleased to offer an English BA with a Writing Concentration. This program focuses more deeply on studying, practicing and researching writing through specialized courses. By the time students complete the program, they will have significantly more experience with a broad writing curriculum.