Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Feminist Winter Term: What do you do with a BA in...

I'm not used to being the only English major in the room.

Okay, well, I wasn't. Molly is too, and there were some others at Feminist Winter Term. But most people were women's and gender studies majors (or minors, double majors, concentrators, etc.).

I'm sure a lot of them were comforted by the many successful activists we met who all said, "Yeah, I majored in Women's Studies. Now I have a swanky office, and you can do it too!"

Much of FWT focused on the path to activism, feminist careers, and networking, and we even had a whole day set aside for career-building. In the morning we went to the Ms. Foundation for a career panel, and in the afternoon we went to our half-day internships.

The Ms. panel was interesting because it was so realistic. We were encouraged to be go-getters, professionals with clean, tame Facebook profiles and memberships on LinkedIn (which, yes, I have now joined). We got advice on writing cover letters, contacting potential employers, interviews, and resumes.

Molly and I found this informative, but not quite as relevant--we're only sophomores. Which isn't to say that we shouldn't be thinking about The Future (true story: "The Future" is actually a label in my Gmail inbox for emails about jobs and things), but that it isn't as close for us as it is for the many college seniors and graduates at FWT.

A lot of this career stuff focused on getting into feminist activism, which tends to be 1) based in New York City and 2) not very well paid. I feel that after this week I definitely have a leg up going after internships at the organizations we visited, but I need to spend my summer earning a bucketload of money so I can go abroad (to a country whose currency is, of course, stronger than the dollar, waaah), and interning at an activist organization while living in New York is GENERALLY not the most advisable way to find yourself rolling in cash.

One thing I wish we had covered: How do you apply your feminist values in field that isn't explicitly feminist? Many of the women and men we met didn't have much of an interest in working outside of a feminist organization, but some of us do! Fellow FWTer Tiffany is currently studying Art Education, and we had some good chats about being teachers, especially in public schools, and working feminism into education while addressing a fixed and possibly not-progressive curriculum.

I've never really considered majoring/minoring/concentrating in gender studies because I see feminism as something that informs what I do, but isn't necessarily...all I want to do. I think Molly and I certainly shared this feeling, as you can probably see from our post on literature and media. I am a feminist, yes. But mostly I am a feminist student. A feminist English major. A feminist reader and consumer. A feminist hopeful teacher.

Do you apply "feminist" (or other political/social/economic/religious movement terminology) to something else that you do? How do you do it?

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