More than just reading books
David Tneh Cheng Eng, who graduated with a PhD in English from the University of Malaya (UM) in 2015, believes that with the advent of the digital age and the fields of digital media and publishing that require creative content, there is a place for English Literature graduates in the job market.
“English Literature graduates, being language, communication and writing specialists, have skillsets that are always in demand in the digital/creative economy realm,” said the assistant professor who is dean of the Faculty of Creative Industries at Universiti Tuanku Abdul Rahman.
Tneh said he has always been fascinated with literary studies as a discipline.
“I am very inquisitive about the form and function of the English language that go beyond its linguistic perimeters. The study of English Literature not only gave me an intimate understanding of the language and aesthetics of writing, but also a global outlook.
“It is a multidisciplinary degree that offers a kaleidoscope of perspectives and one has the chance to understand the complexities of human emotions, societal discourses, transnational issues, world philosophy and history, and international politics, for example.”
To those keen on pursuing an English Literature degree, Tneh said: “Do not hesitate.
“You’ll learn a lot and receive a global education. It will change the way you speak, write, feel and think. Your mind will be sharpened intellectually and the transformative benefits are priceless. Be prepared though, there’s a lot of hard work as it is more than just reading books.”
For corporation communications Muhammad Khaidhir Naaim, who graduated from Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia with a BA Literature in English Studies degree, English Literature was a fallback after not making the marks as an engineering student.
“The biggest advantage of studying Literature is being able to think critically. In addition to the communication and humanity theories, and history and literature components, critical thinking gained from literary studies allows students to overcome challenges at work. Dealing with customers, working with human resources to keep retention rate high and even sales and marketing require critical thinking,” he said.
Muhammad Khaidhir, who works at an information technology and services company, clinched his first job in the communications sector right after his final semester. A little reading up helped him to understand the industry better. His lecturer then recommended him for a job at one of the Business Process Outsourcing companies in the country.
“I was hired immediately. I was chosen mainly because of my attitude and my hunger for work. Two years after that, I was recommended to my current company.
“I’m almost in my third year with my current company. I was given a chance to advance in either sales and marketing or project and planning. There’s still a long way to go but I’m excited to contribute to the company. Besides, there’s no harm trying, right?”
Muhammad Khaidhir said job prospects for linguistics graduates are vast as companies look for graduates who have the passion to learn and the willingness to grow.
Muhammad Khaidhir Naaim
David Tneh Cheng Eng