Where are the English Lit gals now?
I’m a recent English Literature graduate from the University of Manchester so, inevitably, I know a fair few other Mancunian graduates - and who better to ask about graduate employment than a bunch of ex-Fallowfield and Withington dwellers?
I wondered what my fellow English Literature gallies were up to; how they were navigating employment with a seemingly non-vocational degree, what kind of creative opportunities they had been given, and how their degree was faring up against the current socio-political climate.
And, with that fairly rambling introduction, I welcome you to my deep dive into where the English Literature girls are at now featuring Poppy, a full-time journalist, and Jasmine, a resident DJ and radio presenter.
So, first things first, what has been your experience of graduate employment within a creative industry post-pandemic?
J: In all honestly, I haven’t found post-pandemic employment particularly difficult as I managed to leave university and go straight into working full-time in the creative industries. However, what I would emphasise is how much unpaid work and experience I got during university which was definitely the core reason for this. I think without these experiences or connections I had made, I would have struggled.
P: I’ve felt very lucky, to be honest! I was warned that graduating amid a pandemic would be really hard. And for a while it was. But because of the extra-curricular activities I did alongside my degree, I was fortunate enough that a company reached out to me to get on their future talents programme and, after three months, employed me full time. The programme was really promising to see. It focused on pitches and trial days rather than CVs, so if you had gaps because of the pandemic it was okay, which I think is really considerate and an important factor that companies consider.
What have been the biggest struggles that you have faced in employment?
J: I would say the biggest struggle I have had while working in the creative industries is feelings of insecurity or imposter syndrome. I often feel like amazing things I am doing for “work” are simply too good to be true and often fear that one day I may just be told by someone I am not good enough to keep my place in the industry. I usually take breaks from social media as I feel like that is the root of my imposter syndrome struggle.
P: Imposter syndrome. Having been so fortunate to join such a widely-known company straight after uni, I have battled (and continue to!) with a lot of imposter syndrome and self-doubt. I think because I’ve been thrust into my chosen career a lot more quickly than first anticipated too, I’m still not really sure of my worth and value, which is important when knowing if you’re being appreciated and paid enough. I very much am in my current job! But a few interviews I did before it, when asked how much I expected to be paid, I was very unaware and uncertain as to what I should be demanding and what was fair.
What has specifically attracted you to join the company you now work for?
J: MUSIC! I feel like my passion for Music ties in with everything I do, from managing events to DJing to working as a Radio Producer & Presenter. One of the companies I work for, Reform Radio, really emphasises a sense of community which is also a massive aspect of why I enjoy my job. If you have heard of Reform Radio, you have heard of a station that genuinely cares about young people and the community. Another bonus – it is full of so many driven young people who are also striving towards a similar goal.
P: The company I work for has a massive platform which I’m so lucky to now have access to. Its audience is mainly men too, and a lot of the topics I like to write about often centre around mental health or issues more specific to women. It’s been really empowering to be able to spread awareness and inform men using the platform my company has given me. I’ve been really fortunate in my company being very flexible and giving me the creative freedom and space to be able to let loose and discuss things that have felt really important to talk about.
Lastly, if you could sum up in one line some pearls of wisdom for any other female students out there about to graduate with a creative degree - what would you tell them?
J: Be a positive nuisance, gain experience and NETWORK. Genuinely, there is nothing more important than getting yourself out there!
P: People stress that networking is a lot of what can help get the roles you want and be successful, and while that is true to some extent, your work and finding something you’re truly passionate about, and writing about it as honestly, and vivaciously as you can is what also helps you stand out.
So, it’s fair to say that having an old school creative degree isn’t as pointless as people make it out to be. From creative freedom to a community vibe to the power of networking, thank you for checking out my deep dive into what Gen-Z really care about in the workplace.
Seems like the English Lit gals have truly made it.