This is a guide for students in the English department aimed at helping you navigate the many opportunities for connecting our curriculum to opportunities beyond the classroom, including employment.
The department offers a number of courses that have built-in experiential learning components to them.
This can begin early, such as when you take Seminar in Composition.
Seminar in Composition: Service Learning (ENGCMP 0208) offers students the opportunity to perform meaningful service in a community and craft essays about it. Taught in fall and spring.
Professional Writing in Global Contexts (ENGCMP 1111) offers a fourth service-learning credit, through which students can engage in the Global Conversations at Pitt program.
Digital Narrative and Interactive Design (ENGLIT 1201): This project-based course enables students to engage with and create computational narratives and interactive projects with data, hardware and algorithms. Each collaboratively-taught iteration of the course will include 3-4 of these units, such as: fabrication, interactive hardware, computational narrative, interactive data, and prototyping.
Tutoring for Peer Writers (ENGCMP 1210): This course introduces students to issues and scholarship that will prepare them to be effective tutors for their fellow students. It is appropriate for students from any discipline who are interested in careers in teaching or who recognize the importance and difficulty of responding well to drafts written by others. The course is a prerequisite for those students who wish to intern or work as peer tutors in the Writing Center.
Virtual Reality (ENGLIT 1355): This course dives deep into the rabbit hole of the real and the virtual, an adventure that includes philosophy, literature, film, and, of course, VR headsets aplenty! In addition to exploring the history of the real and the virtual, it considers the relationship of virtual reality to the body, to space, to human gesture and communication, and to code. You will have the option of either writing critical papers or creating your own virtual environment or game as your final project.
Secret Pittsburgh (ENGLIT 1412) is a course built around exploring and creating a guidebook to the city, for which students are the creators and producers of the content. View the Secret Pittsburgh website, created by students and instructors over the years.
American Film and Television Industry (ENGFLM 1845) also provides numerous opportunities for experiences in the actual world of TV and filmmaking; consult your advisor and the instructor for more details.
Professional Experience: Writing, Editing or PR (ENGCMP 1906) offers students hands-on experience creating and producing and marketing the publication Sampsonia Way the journal of City of Asylum, which provides sanctuary to endangered writers and artists. Read the course description here.
Create your own projects
Students in our department have launched podcasts on Accessible Design, on the Medical Humanities, and on our own Pitt in LA program, and they have been integral to creating documentary films. The department has a SoundCloud channel to which students can contribute. The Digital Media Lab and Vibrant Media Lab have resources for you. Our DNID major has a program projects page with many examples of student-created work. If you have a project for a digitally-informed social cause, link up with CAASI or 412Connect, or check out the Engagement Map or a project through PittServes.
Have an idea? Talk to one of your professors, and depending on the nature of your project, there can be short-term and long-term or summer funding for it, such as a Curiosity Grant or other support. If you’re like to pursue archival research, we can help you find funding for that, too.
Bigger research and creative projects can find bigger support: the Frederick Honors College offers funding for Community Research Fellowships, Creative Arts Fellowships, Research Fellowships, and Brackenridge Fellowships. See other Honors College opportunities, too. Talk with an English advisor or professor about pursuing one of these.
Our faculty members have a number of affiliations with centers, community organizations, journals, and more. Read about our faculty's affiliations here and reach out–many of them would love to work with you and involve you in a project!
Publishing opportunities for undergrads
In addition to our many departmental prizes, there are several journals at Pitt where you can publish your work, such as Collision, Forbes and Fifth, and Pittsburgh Undergraduate Review. We also maintain a list of journals outside of Pitt that publish undergraduate work. You can even be an Artist in Residence in Physics!
Several times throughout the year, there are opportunities to present and publicly display your work, including the Undergraduate Literature Conference, the Digital Media Showcase, the Film and Media Studies Undergraduate Symposium, the Writing undergraduate graduation ceremony, and through undergraduate writing clubs or at various open mic events.
Opportunities to work alongside professors
Looking for an opportunity to see what it’s like to teach at a university? Behind the scenes with a professor? Consider being an Undergraduate Teaching Assistant (UTA). Our department offers many opportunities for these positions, and consider a Chancellor’s UTA fellowship too.
Want to help your fellow students become better writers–while mastering better writing skills yourself? Become a peer tutor at the Writing Center, which is run by the English Department.
Reading groups with professionalization elements
The Fantasy Studies Fellowship pairs regular gatherings built around sets of readings with visits by alums and professionals who have experience in various fields, while Project Potter offers service opportunities.
Some of our Global Experiences (study abroad) programs have professionalization built into them as well. Pitt in LA, for example, offers hands-on training and opportunities to dive into the film industry, while the Pittsburgh-London Film Program includes filmmaking practices in the Derek Jarman Lab.
See our Internships page for many opportunities, including a searchable database. You can also apply for funding for an internship through the Frederick Honors College, or for opportunities through the Dietrich School, including for field studies. Have a consultation with Alyson Kavalukas at the Career Center for a broad view of Pitt’s internship connections.