Thoughts of an English Literature Graduate

The concept for this post came to me when I was deep in thought in the shower. Does anyone else’s mind seem to wonder whilst they are showering? I seem to conjure up really compelling ideas for blog posts or other creative projects while I’m in there. The one thing that really settling in my mind was to explain what life is like now I have graduated.

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It’s strange to think it has been almost 4 months since I’ve graduated from University and my schedule seems to be pretty hectic at the moment.

I was worried about what life was going to be like after studying because I didn’t have countless job aspirations and ideas nor did I know what career path I should follow. For me, it was a mixture of dreading the end of my studies and wanting to get out of education as quickly as I could. Uni life had been a bit of a roller coaster ride for me with its up and downs but now that the ‘ride’ was over it was time to face the adult world – yep I was not ready for “adulting.”

Throughout my time at university and shortly after completing my course, I would often be faced with the constant question: “so you’re doing an English degree, does that mean you want to become a teacher?” I admit it is a fairly harmless question, but the number of times I was asked this got me thinking – why is an English Literature (or any type of English degree for that matter) continually associated with teaching? Maybe it’s because that’s what many people did in the past or maybe its because its a basic skill needed for teaching. So why aren’t science and maths students (to name but a few) asked if they are going into teaching? I understand this may not be the case for where you’re from but the majority of people I know who have done these degrees haven’t been asked the same old question I have.

Career choices for English Graduates

There is a wide range of popular career choices for English graduates, not just teaching. It is generally well excepted that an English degree can get you into most areas of work.

                “English degree graduates can be found in more or less every industry,

filling a variety of roles – from editor to academic, and legal advisor to manager” (source)

I did a little bit of research to find out which are the most popular/common areas for English graduates to get involved with and to see if I could find further suggestions other than teaching. Teaching is one of the most common but that’s because of what I mentioned before, but you definitely aren’t limited to it.

Media and Journalism
I had some understanding of the world of media and journalism, firstly because we are pretty much bombarded with it every day from the likes of the news and magazines to our own online presence on social media. I also knew there was a common connection between studying English and media/journalism because it heavily relies on good communication skills, grammar and the ability to think creatively on the spot. I had actually considered pursuing journalism at one point but changed my mind because I struggle at working under pressure to publish deadlines for other people, also I didn’t think I could hack the work environment I’d be part of. This is just my opinion so please don’t let it put you off if you are keen on this field of employment.

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Media covers quite a broad range of topics: the tv & film industries, news (online and tv) blogs, advertising and PR. You don’t have to engage with all of these to be classed as working in media, you might only get a taster at one department and decide it may not be for you. Unfortunately, working in this industry comes with some cons as well as pros: it’s extremely competitive and companies will only really look for individuals who are passionate and motivated with some work experience/placements under their belts. This may seem a little bit scary at first but luckily there are ways to go about it. Why not see if there are any local media companies that will give you some work experience, send them an email, write a letter or go in and talk to them face to face – you’re basically offering your services for free so it shouldn’t be a problem for most places. The worst that could possibly happen is that they’ll say no, the world won’t swallow you up, life goes on and you can take another step elsewhere. The media scene is something we are associated with at all times and is constantly on the go. Make sure your presence online is known, set up a blog page, comment on videos and join pages that people with similar interests to you and discover more about the area you want to work in.

Publishing
This was an area I didn’t have ample amounts of knowledge on. I roughly perceived publishing to be related to the production of books, therefore seemed it would have a clear association with English literature (we read books for a reason you know!)
During uni, I was lucky enough to have a week each year off timetable where we could meet people from a variety of industries that may lead to pursuing a career in that particular subject. As I didn’t really know what I wanted to do, I attended a few various sessions to broaden my horizons. There was a lovely lady from a publishing company in my first year,  I can’t remember for the life of me which company it was but she offered us, students, some great advice.
The key to working in the publishing sector is experience, get yourself out there in the big wide world and earn some placements because you might just be offered jobs there in the future if you impress your potential employers enough.

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There is more to publishing than physical books which I confess was where my mind first wandered. Publishing can involve online materials like e-books, journals and papers and is a popular choice for many of us studying nowadays because it is easily accessible at the click of a button. The physical side to publishing can include newspapers and magazines so you definitely aren’t limited to standard books unless you want to stick to the good old fictional/non-fictional literature of course!

Marketing, Advertising and PR
I knew very little about the marketing industry before I started talking to people who had careers directly related to my interests and doing a bit of my own research. My initial thought on marketing entailed a belief that it majorly focused on business finance and was more for people who wanted to set up their own company, whilst simultaneously understanding numbers – oh how wrong I was!

You don’t have to run a business to be a key player in marketing, you can be part of one or contribute in many other ways. There is a whole range of marketing sectors from affiliate marketing to social media and digital marketing, the list is endless. In fact, there are essentially two sides to marketing, the creative and the typical ‘businessy’ side. You need to be great with communication and always full of ideas to push you to the next step. It is definitely worth building up a portfolio or folder of ideas that really show off your skill sets because marketing is all about products and services; when it comes to your personal achievements you are basically the product you want to promote and you need evidence to support that. Yes, I am going to bang on about getting experience again because it is pretty much the same in every job role, you get those little comments on application forms that say “needs x amount of years/months experience” well, you might as well get a head start!

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What I want to do
In my frantic job searching after I finished university, I came across a few job applications that were part of the digital and social media marketing departments. Essentially they involved running the social media accounts for companies and similar tasks involving online programmes to promote their businesses. You know when you have that moment where you think to yourself “this sounds like my kind of job” well that happened. I scrolled through a variety of sites to see what these kinds of roles entailed and I came to the conclusion that I needed some sort of experience before I dived into the deep end of an area I didn’t know much about.

My first thought was to look at postgraduate courses because I was sure there would be something out there that would give me a boost in the marketing sector for absolute beginners like myself. I booked a few open days and my most recent one was this Saturday just gone and I was given some very beneficial advice. So if you want to go into digital marketing too, you’re in luck. Here’s what they told me I could do:

  • Find an online course on Digital Marketing or a similar topic depending on which area you want to go in to. I found a course on udemy (mentioned in my last blog post) and they had a deal on so the course was reduced from £200 to £10, so hardly a waste of money if it wasn’t for me!
  • Do some research on the IDM (Institute of Direct and Digital Marketing). There is a whole host of advice on there as well as some courses that could suit your needs. You can filter the searches to your preference of course and once you find them the prices range depending on the length of the course and location etc.
  • Search for marketing opportunities at IPA, they have help on finance, media, marketing and more.
  • The Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) offers courses all around the country and you can search based on your location to find the nearest available study site. I found a Foundation Certificate in Marketing Course that is suitable for absolute beginners so worth a search if you’re interested. The course – https://www.cim.co.uk/qualifications/foundation-certificate-in-marketing/

Want to get started?
Here are some ideas for what you can do after graduating:
Extra studying – do a postgraduate course if you want to further your knowledge or learn a new subject on top of your undergraduate degree.
Working – if you aren’t sure what to do brainstorm some ideas of what you enjoy doing. You may be able to find jobs in relation to your interests and its great to get working as soon as you can after uni to keep yourself motivated!
Internships – There are plenty of these going area in partnership with a large variety of companies. See if there are any opportunities with companies locally to you unless you are willing to and can afford to travel.
Apprenticeships – This is often a popular choice for those who didn’t go to uni but it’s worth having a search – https://www.gov.uk/apply-apprenticeship

Now, this may not have been the blog post for everyone but I really felt I needed to get off my chest how I felt a few months after graduating. I hope this was helpful if you were completely clueless like I was, if not I hope it was an interesting read?

Until next time,

Neneh x
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