How to Quit Your Job and Make the First Step to a New Career With Your M.A. or Ph.D.

To find a job with your English degree takes time, especially if you are career searching with a MA or PhD. This is my story about quitting my job and it shows you how aggressive action can help accelerate your ability to find Master’s and PhD jobs.

Master’s degree in English: I will mow your lawn

I wake up and walk from my front door to the basement to pick up my laundry.  The large tree on my front lawn has covered the driveway with leaves and sticks from last night’s wind.  I could have been at McGill right now, sipping coffee, making pompous jokes, and teaching undergrads.

My decision to not do a Ph.D. has even attracted national media attention from The Chronicle of Higher Education.  They interviewed me, using my story to illustrate the current lack of data for graduate programs and the percentage of Ph.D.’s who find jobs.

I am the most famous unsuccessful graduate of my university cohort.

The article is “Master’s in English: Will Mow Lawns” and, by the way, thank-you Thomas H. Benton A.K.A William A. Pannapacker for your encouraging comment.  Because of your articles, many disillusioned academics will find success outside of the Ph.D. job trap.

But here I am, hacking out a life with my Master’s degree in English, looking for random writing jobs, applying for jobs that English majors typically get, and wondering if I should perhaps go back to school for another degree.

And so it drags on.

Winter job-search mental hibernation


When I wrote my first post last April, I thought my search for a job with my Master’s degree would take a few months.  According to one university handbook, the average English major takes between 5 and 10 years to find a stable career after completion of their degree (you can read about that here).

But now it is winter. I’m tempted to just wait a few more months before doing anything drastic in my career search.

In winter, it’s hard to try new things.  With summer you consider moving to a different city, quitting your job, and taking a risk.  But winter seems to encourage you to stick to what you got, and so you settle into your living room, pay your rent, and wait for better weather.

This year, I don’t want to hibernate.

Narcissistic allegorical Post-Grad revelation, of course.

Find a job as an English major

You can make any day significant, by choice.  That’s freedom.  You can pick any day and make it a permanent part of your life’s story.

Choose today to take action.


It’s almost dark. I’m riding through a little village by downtown now.  At the end of a crowded street, the rainbow side of a children’s consignment store passes by.  Painted elephants, giant pink rhinoceroses, and tropical birds ripple on its side.  Below the sign, faded toys are piled in the window display. An island of color.

This year, will not be like last year.

I will remember this day.  It will mark either success or failure. Either way, I’m not going to sleep another winter away.

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