Ellie’s Guide to being a Postgrad Student at Exeter

Ellie, ex Postgrad student at Exeter, and Career Zone SCP.

Thinking of doing a Postgraduate course? Ellie takes a deep-dive into everything you need to know. 

My name is Ellie, and last year I completed my Masters in English Literary Studies with specialism in World and Postcolonial Cultures. For my Undergraduate degree I studied BA English, also here at Exeter.

When did you start thinking about become a postgraduate student, and why did you choose Exeter and that course? 

I was in the final year of my degree when I started thinking about going on to Postgraduate studies. Before this, I hadn’t really known what to do after my degree – I’ve always felt like the problem isn’t that I don’t know what I’m interested in, but that I’m interested in too many things! I guess this all changed when the pandemic hit.

In March 2020, I was in the second year of my degree, and COVID-19 arrived. I suddenly found myself back at home, my dog sat on my feet whilst I wrote my final deadlines and sat my last exams from the study. What I didn’t realise was how long the lockdowns and constant uncertainty would go on for, and at this moment in time I was so concentrated on just taking every day as it came, trying to focus on getting through my degree with COVID a constant threat, that I didn’t feel I could even begin to think about what I would do after Graduating.

“Whilst I was writing my dissertation I spent a long time thinking about my interests and where I should go next year (cue multiple existential crises). With the help of a 1:1 Careers Guidance appointment, and by attending a Career Zone event I decided that I definitely did want to go onto postgrad study.”

I returned to Exeter in September 2020, but ended up mainly studying from home for my final year after another lockdown was announced during Reading Week (all my seminars were held online for the year). Cut to early spring 2021, and I still didn’t have a plan for next year. It was during this time that I realised why I felt so under prepared for Graduating – I had only had half of a normal degree and University experience, and I felt cheated of the opportunity to be a student. I just felt that there was more for me at University. I also had not been able to gain any work experience like I had initially planned to help me decide what route I wanted to go down after Graduating. 

Whilst I was writing my dissertation I spent a long time thinking about my interests and where I should go next year (cue multiple existential crises). With the help of a 1:1 Careers Guidance appointment, and by attending a Career Zone event aimed at pre-graduation English and Film Students, I decided that I definitely did want to go onto Postgrad study. However, my interests fell into two clear paths: either I carried on with my more academic, English-based route, or I opted for a Postgrad qualification that gave me access to a healthcare role – something I’d always wondered about. Two of my main career interests have always been publishing and speech and language therapy, so I used Ask an Alum to set up zoom calls with Exeter alumni from each industry. This experience was invaluable, and I felt really lucky to have the opportunity to talk to two extremely interesting women about their careers.

During this time, I also used FindAMasters.com and the RCSLT (Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists) website to help me think about where I would go if I pursued either of these paths. I did a lot of Googling and found Russel Group university cities I thought I would like to live in, browsing the universities’ websites and contacting admissions and course convenors via email to find out if I would be a suitable applicant.

I had missed the date to apply for speech and language therapy, so would have to apply in Autumn 2022 for 2022/23 admissions if I was certain I wanted to go down this route. However, after so long of feeling in limbo during lockdown, I really wanted to have a plan for the next academic year, and I wasn’t sure with the current COVID situation what opportunities would be available to me if I opted for a gap year whilst I waited for the next Masters application window. I was also concerned that due to the pandemic I hadn’t been able to gain any work experience in this field, so thought that this would be a big commitment (in terms of career direction, time, and finances) if I didn’t enjoy the course from the offset.

“The 10% reduction on fees for returning Exeter students was also a big draw – studying at Postgrad level is a big financial commitment as ultimately it means more debt… Some Masters are extremely expensive, so it made sense to stay on at such a brilliant University for a fraction of the price of other courses.” 

This formed my decision to look further into a Masters in either publishing or English. I looked at lots of different courses at different universities, but I also reached out to my final year seminar leaders at Exeter who were convening both the brand-new Publishing Masters and the English Literary Studies Masters. I had various Teams calls with them so that I could ask more about the course and find out whether they thought I would be a good fit.

I was really encouraged by the fact that two of the best seminar leaders I have ever had were running each course, and this helped me decide that I wanted to stay at Exeter because I knew how brilliant the department were, so had complete faith that they would be excellent courses. The 10% reduction on fees for returning Exeter students was also a big draw – studying at Postgrad level is a big financial commitment as ultimately it means more debt, and you also don’t get a maintenance loan anymore, so I wanted to be smart about my choices. Some Masters are extremely expensive, so it made sense to stay on at such a brilliant University for a fraction of the price of other courses.  

Previously, whenever I had thought about doing a Masters, I had always thought I would take the opportunity to go somewhere new and study at a different university, but COVID meant that I had only been living in Exeter for just over half of my degree, and I felt that I had more to take from the city. I also knew that if we went into more lockdowns, I felt more secure in a city which I already knew, and where I already had a few friends.  

“…to make sure you don’t miss any deadlines, I would suggest you start thinking about whether you might like to pursue postgrad study the summer before final year begins.”

My next problem however was that I was torn between these two Masters, and really didn’t know which one to choose. In the end, I decided to apply for English Literary Studies, but to specialise in World and Postcolonial Cultures, which had become a clear area of interest for me since second year. You could opt for one of seven specialisms in the course (or pick an open, unspecialised pathway), and this one really stood out to me. I decided on this Masters over the Publishing Masters as I hadn’t managed to gain any publishing experience – I applied for a local publishing internship just before the pandemic, but unfortunately this opportunity folded as COVID erupted.

I had also applied for summer internships with both Penguin and Hachette, but hadn’t been one of the lucky few to be selected out of tens of thousands of applicants. Another thing that really swung it for me was that if I chose the ELS Masters, I was welcome to study a couple of modules from the Publishing Masters, so could still get a taste for the industry and have something relevant to refer to in any future interviews. I had a close friend who was also staying on at Exeter, and I applied as soon as I had finished my dissertation at the end of April.  

“…things can change whilst you’re doing final year – I didn’t start knowing I wanted to do a Masters, but I did end it knowing I wanted to.”

How did you write your Masters application/personal statement, and what was the process like? Do you have any tips for anyone thinking of postgraduate study? 

I really didn’t know how to write a Masters personal statement, but I used articles on Prospects and the Help with Applying for Postgraduate Study page on the Career Zone website to help me write a first draft. I also booked in for a 1:1 with a Careers Consultant who went through my application with me and suggested some minor tweaks (he also reassured me that he had never heard of an Exeter student being refused to stay on at Exeter for a Masters, which made me feel less nervous!).

The main things I tried to express were my passion for English and the specialism I was applying for, as well as the modules I had already taken at Exeter that had led me to discover my specialism. I had an advantage to students who had done their undergrad at different universities because I was able to pick out details from undergrad modules led by the MA convenors (who also knew me well) which I had really enjoyed. I also wrote about specific modules on the Masters programme that I would like to study, whilst expressing my enthusiasm to carry on in the English department at Exeter. My final application came in at around 1300 words. I pressed submit (… and then checked my emails constantly for the next few days!). I heard back within a week – I was really happy, and it felt like just the right step for me. Within a couple of weeks I was back in Exeter house hunting, and it all just fell into place from there. 

“…being a Postgrad student at Streatham is completely different to being an Undergrad… I knew it would be different, and I was hoping it would feel more adult, as opposed to feeling like I was 18 again.”

Because of COVID, things were a little bit different when I started thinking about Masters, but to make sure you don’t miss any deadlines, I would suggest you start thinking about whether you might like to pursue Postgrad study the summer before final year begins. This way you’ll have plenty of time to weigh up your different options, as a lot of courses have an application deadline early in the academic year (it varies on the course and the university). However, things can change whilst you’re doing final year – I didn’t start final year knowing I wanted to do a Masters, but I did end it knowing I wanted to. When I was looking into Masters within the English department at Exeter I was also met with constant reassurance that sometimes applications come in as late as a few weeks before the course starts, and they’re still just as likely to be accepted, so my seminar leaders were very clear in that there wasn’t a rush (however, this also depends on the size of the course and how many available spaces there are). 

“Something which is really nice about postgrad studies is that everyone really wants to be there, and you feel like you are treated in more of an adult manner, less like a student and more like an equal.”

What’s being a postgraduate at Streatham like? Is your course harder than your undergrad? What makes it so? Is there more work? 

It’s difficult to explain, but being a Postgrad student at Streatham is completely different to being an Undergrad, and I don’t think I really realised this before coming back to study for a Masters. I knew it would be different, and I was hoping it would feel more adult, as opposed to feeling like I was 18 again.

I’ve never had many contact hours for my course even during Undergrad, as English requires a huge amount of independent study, but this year I had only four contact hours a week (two two hour seminars). At Postgrad level you don’t have lectures, only small group seminars and very infrequent additional workshops or screenings. This didn’t feel like a big change, but I do think that during my Masters I have felt less immersed in the student experience and population, although I think that this was also caused by the onset of COVID.

I have also definitely found it harder to meet people at Postgrad level, and the amount of independent work (and the nature of most people working on quite different projects) means it can be quite isolating at times, so it’s really important to leave your laptop/books regularly! Another thing which is tricky is that almost all of my friends have now left Exeter, which can feel a bit odd when you’re still here, and definitely takes some getting used to, but you do get used to feeling more independent.  

My course is definitely harder than at Undergrad, but I also feel like I had a great foundation to start with going into it, compared to in first year where I felt thrown in at the deep end. At Postgrad level, you know what your interests are already and what they aren’t, which is just as important (this time round I knew to steer well clear of anything that smelt too Victorian!). The reading I’m required to do is a lot longer, but in my fourth year of being at University I know the systems that work for me, and also how to manage my workload – for the most part anyway!

Something which is really nice about Postgrad studies is that everyone really wants to be there, and you feel like you are treated in more of an adult manner, less like a student and more like an equal. There’s also more of a mix of ages at Postgrad level, whether students have had a year or two in between their undergrads and their Masters, or whether they are mature students who are coming back to education after decades away. I’ve really enjoyed meeting people from all walks of life who have bigger lives outside of University, and have found myself learning so much from not just my seminar leaders, but other students too. 

What’s your area of interest? 

My area of interest is my specialism: World and Postcolonial Cultures. When I started at University in first year, I really had no idea what I specifically enjoyed about English – I might have thought I did, but really there was so much more to learn than ever crossed my mind. From second year onwards I started to really connect with learning about literature from other parts of the world, loving deviating from the very white, male canon of privileged literature that has become so ingrained in our society. I quickly realised I would much rather read a short story collection about the refugee crisis by a Haitian author than read another Dickensian novel!  

Since my Modern History A Level, I have always had a huge interest in the British Empire and its shadow, and my specialism has given me the opportunity to explore postcolonial legacies and writing from minority cultures, something that has really broadened my understanding not just of literature, but of the world. I have also had the opportunity to take modules from the Publishing Masters and the Film Studies Masters, studying things as varied as the use of sound in films like Gravity, to BAME publishing initiatives in the UK, and novels by Korean, South African, and Kenyan authors. This specialism has allowed me to take my interest in different cultures to a new level, and has also led me to the topic of my Masters dissertation: the representation of race in British children’s literature. 

“There is no denying how difficult Postgrad study is… The deadlines are intense, with the heaviest end of module essays falling at the beginning of term, which means there’s never much opportunity to switch off over the Christmas/Easter holidays. It is also a much longer haul than undergrad academic years – I don’t finish until the very end of August.”

 Are you enjoying your Masters? 

It definitely took a bit of adjusting, but I have enjoyed this year – it’s taught me a lot about myself and what I enjoy and don’t enjoy. The course has been amazing, and the English department are incredibly supportive, down to earth, and so knowledgeable. I always describe my course and specialism as my favourite parts of my Undergrad rolled into one (without the less-fun bits!). I am really glad I chose this Masters – it’s been a really good stepping stone, and I have learnt so much more than I ever expected to. I also know that I can apply my new skills to the next stage of my life. There is no denying how difficult Postgrad study is however – you have to be 100% committed. The deadlines are intense, with the heaviest end of module essays falling at the beginning of term, which means there’s never much opportunity to switch off over the Christmas/Easter holidays.

It is also a much longer haul than Undergrad academic years – I don’t finish until the very end of August, so am only just starting to think about my dissertation when most Undergrads would have just submitted theirs. However, I think that studying at Postgrad level has really deepened and extended what my undergrad gave me, and I hope that this rigorous training will be noticed by any potential future employers. 

“I’ve worked as a part-time intern at the Career Zone… having a job is a brilliant way to structure your time into more manageable chunks. It also means that you know you’re going to have a certain amount of time every week where you don’t think about your own academic stresses”

Looking back, what advice would you give yourself before you started the process? 

Take things in your stride – whereas no academic year can be described as a sprint, if you thought an undergrad year was a marathon, a Masters is an ultramarathon. I was advised by a seminar leader to treat it like a 9-5 job – a little bit tricky if, like me, you also have a job, but good advice nonetheless! Another seminar leader told me it was two years’ worth of work squashed into one, which definitely summarises how full-on it is… Don’t worry about what other people are doing and what stage you’re at in comparison, just take it one step at a time, do your best, and you’ll get what you need from it.  

Even if you don’t have many contact hours, spend time on campus as it will make you feel less like you’re the only Postgrad student in the room! I’d also advise getting a job. This year I’ve worked as a part-time intern at the Career Zone, and although you will have more than enough to do without a job filling part of your week, having a job is a brilliant way to structure your time into more manageable chunks. It also means that you know you’re going to have a certain amount of time every week where you don’t think about your own academic stresses, and I always leave work feeling much fresher, and like everything has been put back into proportion. Plus, a Masters is expensive, and earning money whilst you study is not only helpful financially, but something which evidences your ability to manage your workload and juggle multiple commitments to future employers. 

“On a more practical note, studying can actually physically hurt… set timers on your phone to make sure you take regular tea breaks, and do some stretching while the kettle boils – it makes all the difference!”

On a more practical note, studying can actually physically hurt… set timers on your phone to make sure you take regular tea breaks, and do some stretching while the kettle boils – it makes all the difference! 

What’s next for you? 

I’m not sure what’s next for me yet. I’ve been so busy with my course this year that it’s been difficult to find the time to apply for jobs without sacrificing my deadlines, but I have been keeping an eye out on opportunities. I’m currently debating taking a gap year of sorts next year – organising some short-term work experience opportunities in different sectors, and maybe heading to Europe for a bit to au-pair. I’ve been in education for four years, so I think it’s time for a different experience. But first, come the end of August I’ll be having a big rest! 

Get started with the Career Zone

Chloe Mabberley graduated from University of Exeter in July 2022 with a BA in History, she worked in the Career Zone as a SCP Career Zone Assistant in her final year. We spoke to Chloe about her internship experience and asked what advice she would give students thinking about their careers or considering an internship with the Career Zone and what skills she had learnt to take her into the workplace.

You were recently awarded a First in History. How did you find balancing your studies and an SCP role?

It’s all about time management and learning what to prioritise. Luckily, when you are an SCP or SBP, your employer knows that your studies will take priority sometimes and they are very flexible with shifts and if you need to change or swap shifts with someone. When you have a deadline looming, it’s often quite nice to come to work and think about something else for a few hours. I use planners to help me stay on track of daily and weekly goals, meaning that I never fell behind and could always find time to do university work. Making sure you have a good sleep schedule too. Having a 9am shift twice a week, meant I was up early, and once I had finished work at 1pm I still had lots of time to do essays in the afternoon.

What 3 things would you like to tell students now you have worked in the Career Zone?

“Use the Career Zone website, there is a vast amount of information on there that is incredibly useful. CV advice, Interview help, information about different job sectors, and personality tests to find out what kind of job might suit you if you are feeling lost!”

  1. Use the Career Zone website, there is a vast amount of information on there that is incredibly useful. CV advice, Interview help, information about different job sectors, and personality tests to find out what kind of job might suit you if you are feeling lost!
  2. Make a LinkedIn account early and start connecting with people you know. Make sure your profile is up to scratch and keep it professional. Recruiters often reach out to people directly on LinkedIn, so you never know what opportunities are out there for the taking.
  3. Start early! Trying to figure out what to do after university can be stressful, so the earlier you start gaining experience and looking at your options, the better.

“Start early! Trying to figure out what to do after university can be stressful, so the earlier you start gaining experience and looking at your options, the better.”

What have you learnt about yourself since working in the Career Zone and how has it helped you in your steps towards your future career?

It has helped me to identify my strengths and weaknesses in the workplace. It has taught me that I enjoy working with people and helping others in a role. It has also taught me that I love looking at CVs, applications, and that sort of thing, as I find it really interesting seeing how people sell themselves on paper.  It has given me more experience in customer service, problem solving, attention to detail, communication skills, project management, and many more skills that I can take into the workplace.

I now know that I want a job that involves working in a team and for an employer that values your opinion and input.

What have you enjoyed and gained from the experience as an SCP in the Career Zone?

As someone who has always struggled with not knowing what career path to take, I have really enjoyed helping students who are in a similar situation. When students come to see us in person, looking worried and a bit lost, it makes my day when I see them leave feeling much more confident about their career after I’ve given them lots of resources to look at, or booked them in for an appointment.

When students come to see us in person, looking worried and a bit lost, it makes my day when I see them leave feeling much more confident about their career.”

Have you received any career advice since you have been working at the Career Zone?

Yes, I recently had a CV review with an advisor, and it helped me massively. She showed me how to take my CV to the next level and really impress employers. She also showed me how going into more detail about my degree, achievements, and work experience can demonstrate to employers the skills I have, instead of just simply listing them on my CV. I would definitely recommend having a CV review at the Career Zone.

What advice would you give to students who are writing their CVs or cover letters now?

Use all the resources on the Career Zone website, there is a CV builder that will make your CV for you, an instant reviewer called CV360 that uses AI technology, example CVs, webinar recordings from Career Consultants, and loads more. If you still feel stuck, book in for a review appointment with one of the advisors!

Have you had any other appointments whilst at the Career Zone?

I had a Career Guidance appointment with a Careers Consultant, which was very useful. I had done some research on different sectors I was interested in, but she gave me some more expert knowledge about them and where I could look for opportunities and find out about potential qualifications I would need. I would encourage students to do their own research first before an appointment, as this means you can get much more out of the 30-minute slot and have more of an in-depth discussion with the consultant.

We understand that you are going to take some time out to travel, as you were unable to during the pandemic.  What are your thoughts about what you want to do with your career planning for your return and longer-term?

The plan at the moment is to apply for some graduate roles for the September 2023 intake and see how those applications go. If I’m unsuccessful or don’t find any roles I am interested in applying for then I would like to look for other opportunities in London. I’d like to live there for a few years for the experience, maybe in sectors such as HR or recruitment, but who knows, I’m open to lots of things!   I’d like to end up in a role that enables me to work with people and something that I genuinely enjoy. Seeing the work that Careers Consultants do has sparked an interest in potentially pursuing this line of work or working in a university setting in general.

What would you recommend to any student thinking of taking an internship with the Career Zone?

Apply! It has been great working for the Career Zone during my final year. The internships that the University offers are flexible, well-paid, look good on your CV, and can teach you loads of new skills to bring to the workplace after you finish your studies.

What is the best advice you have been given regarding your employability, career planning?

Do a job that you enjoy! If you’re going to be working for 30 years, you may as well do something you like.

What advice would you give to others who are thinking about their next steps in their career planning?

Start planning early, but if you haven’t don’t let it stress you out too much as it’s not worth it. See rejection as a sign of redirection, sometimes the job just wasn’t meant for you and means you could potentially land the perfect job at your next interview. If you are really struggling or don’t know where to start, contact the Career Zone who will be happy to help you out.

“Start planning early, but if you haven’t don’t let it stress you out too much as it’s not worth it. See rejection as a sign of redirection, sometimes the job just wasn’t meant for you and means you could potentially land the perfect job at your next interview. If you are really struggling or don’t know where to start, contact the Career Zone who will be happy to help you out. “

The Career Zone recruit SCPs in the Spring and sometimes the Autumn term. Find out how you can improve your employability and find SCP internships by visiting the Career Zone or by searching on Handshake.

 

Getting into Communications

Natasha Trendall graduated from the University of Exeter with BA History in 2003. She’s currently Communications and Engagement Manager, EY

Natasha Trendall, Exeter Alum and current Communications and Engagement Manager, EY

What have you been doing since leaving Exeter, and what are you doing now?   

Since leaving Exeter I’ve built a career in communications. I started in a global PR agency, doing external communications and media relations for a range of financial services clients. I then moved to a large British bank to do employee communications, taking on a number of different internal comms roles over a six year period, before moving to a large global professional services company to do communications & engagement.

Employee communications is less well known than PR and it’s certainly not a job or career I was aware of when I graduated. My job involves engaging employees in the company strategy, helping them to do their jobs well by supporting collaboration, information sharing and best practice and, ultimately, driving business objectives by helping to build a workforce of happy, productive and engaged employees.

“I enjoy translating complex business ideas into clear, concise messages that employees can understand… there is lots of scope for creativity and writing.”

Why did you choose this career? And what do you enjoy most about your work?

I fell into communications rather than choosing it, but I’ve stayed because I enjoy translating complex business ideas into clear, concise messages that employees can understand. I’m interested in being part of the machine that helps make work a better place for employees, and there is lots of scope for creativity and writing.

My job often involves working with the most senior leaders in an organisation (C-suite level), which is a privilege, and also demanding! The work is varied, from writing a message from the CEO to all employees, designing a campaign and running an event, to supporting a culture change programme.

What skills and experiences have been most useful for your career?  

Writing, interpreting and organising information, study discipline, reading, editing, proofing and developing relationships with people outside my previous experience.

What advice would you give to a current student who wishes to pursue your career?    

There often aren’t many entry level roles in internal communications, but getting any kind of communications experience will be helpful, whether that’s in Marketing, PR, media relations, brand, events or even HR – these are all related disciplines that work closely with employee communications and require many of the same skills.

Good people skills and emotional intelligence are also vital – you need to be able to develop relationships at all levels of an organisation and have confidence when dealing with very senior people, so any experience that helps you build those influencing skills will be very helpful.

“As current students entering the workforce now you will bring a unique perspective and understanding of your generation to employers of an older generation who need to communicate with people like you.”

As current students entering the workforce now you will bring a unique perspective and understanding of your generation to employers of an older generation who need to communicate with people like you – so leverage that advantage and think about how you like to be communicated with and what you would like your experience at work to be!

What are your plans for the future?     

I’m currently studying part-time for an MSc in Psychology and interested in either pursuing that to become an occupational psychologist or moving into Human Resources – a role where I can be more directly involved in making the workplace better for people. I’m particularly interested in workplace mental health, wellbeing and belonging.

Introducing Ask An Alum

Ask An Alum

Emily Im is a final year student studying BA English at the University of Exeter. In 2020, she took part in Ask An Alum (previously eXepert) where University of Exeter students and recent graduates connect with University of Exeter alumni to ask questions about their careers.

What is Ask An Alum?

Ask An Alum is an information gathering employability programme connecting students and graduates with Exeter alumni.  AAA facilitates a short-term email exchange allowing students and graduates to ask questions and get advice. There are over 500 alumni available during term-time to contact from various sectors and organisations giving you a range of options.

Why did you apply for Ask An Alum?

During my first year, I was thinking of ways I could learn more about the publishing industry and I found information on Ask An Alum in a Careers newsletter. I didn’t have many contacts and only a little publishing experience at the time, so I thought this was a great opportunity to get advice from a professional.

“I didn’t have many contacts and only a little publishing experience at the time, so I thought this was a great opportunity to get advice from a professional.”

How did you apply?

I submitted an application form detailing my interests and which alumni I wanted to speak to and within a few days, I was connected to the Publishing Director of The Borough Press, which is a literary fiction imprint of HarperFiction. It was super quick and easy!

What kind of alum are available?

If you’re a student, you can access the Ask An Alum database via Handshake and on there, you’ll find people who work for Bloomsbury Publishing, Oxford University Press and Routledge to name a few companies. You can also see what they studied while they were at Exeter. I think it’s useful knowing so many alumni have degrees that aren’t directly related to their current jobs and there are multiple career paths you can go down no matter what you’ve done at university.

If you’re not interested in publishing, there are alum who work in law firms, healthcare companies, higher education, marketing, etc. There are so many different job titles—you can even get in touch with CEOs.

“Within a few days, I was connected to the Publishing Director of The Borough Press, which is a literary fiction imprint of HarperFiction.”

What did you ask your alum?

I had so many questions and luckily, she answered all of them. We talked about her career journey since her time at university, what work experience she did, things that I could do to stand out, her daily tasks, her work-life balance, HarperCollins’ blind recruitment process and much more! There’s a useful list of questions on the Ask An Alum website if you need some inspiration on what to ask.

We started emailing around the end of January and were still in contact when the pandemic hit so I was able to enquire about how the publishing industry was being impacted and what it meant for people seeking internships. I didn’t ask for an internship since that isn’t allowed but she did let me know publishing companies had no remote working opportunities available. Times have changed though!

How do you think Ask An Alum has helped you?

It was great gaining a more personal perspective of the publishing industry and learning about the journey she took to get in. She told me things a quick Google search can’t. It was also reassuring to know she didn’t have much experience when she left university and had multiple roles at different companies before she eventually landed at HarperCollins.

“She told me things a Google search can’t.”

What advice would you give to a student interested in applying to Ask An Alum?

Apply! There’s no pressure. Although it’s a professional connection, it feels like a relaxed conversation. The person you’re emailing wants to help you so don’t be afraid to ask hard questions too.

Would you use the scheme again?

Absolutely! I would still love to work in publishing but I’m also looking into other sectors. There’s an unlimited number of times you can apply, and even after you graduate, you can participate in Ask An Alum for up to three years so I know that when I need some guidance, I can come back to this programme.

Discover how you can get ahead with your career and make powerful connections, learn more about Ask an Alum

My Career as a Freelance Creative Arts Facilitator

Kat Merrick. Exeter Alumn, Freelance Creative Arts Facilitator, and Director at Katerpillar Creatives

Kat Merrick is a Freelance Creative Arts Facilitator, and Director at Katerpillar Creatives  She graduated from the University of Exeter BA Drama, 2008

What did you enjoy most about your programme and what was the biggest highlight?  

The balance between theory and practical work. Many of the universities that I looked around were keen to stress that they weren’t a drama school and were more concerned with theory, but Exeter allowed the opportunity to put the theory into practice. Being able to physicalise what we had learned was hugely helpful to me, and I felt like the balance between theory and practice was a perfect fit for me.  

What skills and experiences have been most useful for your career?  

It’s a strange one to start with, but organisation has been vital for me. I manage my own diary, bookings and invoices, so it’s really important to stay on top of that and ensure I’m giving accurate information to schools that want to book me (I’ve met facilitators who are extremely talented, but have put people off with their lack of organisation and time management – it doesn’t look good). 

“Experience-wise, I’m extremely fortunate to have worked with some amazing people and fantastic organisations, and I know how much this has helped me to form my own practice and to figure out what works for me.”

Communication is also vital for my work. When I was in London and contracting to several companies, keeping in touch with all of them was really important, and now that I’m striking out on my own, it’s so important for me to touch base with schools regularly and keep them up to date with plans and arrangements.  

There is a lot of time management involved in my work, and a level of discipline too – as I’m self-employed, often there is no one planning things for me, or breathing down my neck over deadlines. While that’s a lovely way to work, it does mean that I have to make sure I’m holding myself to account and keeping up with the work that I need to do outside of schools. It’s very easy to get lazy when no one is making you do it, so keeping up with the admin side of the job is something that I had to get used to!  

Experience-wise, I’m extremely fortunate to have worked with some amazing people and fantastic organisations, and I know how much this has helped me to form my own practice and to figure out what works for me. Every job has taught me something (even if it was ‘that didn’t work at all!’) and I find it really important to pay attention to what works and what doesn’t, even after all these years. Working with other people has taught me a huge amount about different practices, but also about my own – I now have a much better understanding about what works for me, and can use my strengths to make my work the best it can be. 

What advice would you give to a current student who wishes to pursue your career?  

Gain as much experience as you can! I’m all for valuing yourself as an artist, but if you’re brand new to the field and need to make your CV stand out from the crowd, look at the ways that you can add to it, even if that means volunteering or low paid opportunities. I volunteered with a local youth theatre while I was a student at Exeter who were delighted to have me, and spent my university holidays assisting with holiday workshops at my youth theatre at home. Not only did I learn a huge amount through these different jobs, but it meant that my CV stood out.  

“Be prepared to work hard. My line of work isn’t about getting a job and sitting in it for 20 years. It’s a continuous process of making connections, finding work, developing content, delivering sessions, and repeating.”

Following on from that – use your contacts! I was very lucky to have an amazing youth theatre tutor while I was in school, and she was incredibly helpful to me as I went through university and beyond. Whether it was letting me help out with youth projects, answering questions over a coffee, or giving me my first ever youth theatre directing job after university, she was always happy to help. If you are lucky enough to have any useful contacts (a youth theatre tutor, school drama teacher, university lecturer, or anyone whose work interests you) then do use them – keep in touch, ask for help, and take advantage of any opportunities given to you. You’ll build up your skills and your CV!  

Be prepared to work hard. My line of work isn’t about getting a job and sitting in it for 20 years. It’s a continuous process of making connections, finding work, developing content, delivering sessions, and repeating. It’s incredibly rewarding (and does get easier with practice) but you have to be ready to work hard and be responsible for driving yourself.  

“Know your worth. I mentioned volunteering earlier as a means to gain experience, but understand when enough is enough. The arts are notorious for people undervaluing our work.”

Know your worth. I mentioned volunteering earlier as a means to gain experience, but understand when enough is enough. The arts are notorious for people undervaluing our work (“What? You want to be PAID? But I thought you did it for the love of the craft!”) and it’s important to recognise what your skills are worth. Yes, I love my job, but it is a job. This is something that I’ve always found challenging (and I’m having to practice what I preach with my new business) but there’s no shame in putting a price on your skills. If you’re unsure about price points, try to find someone that you can ask for advice. Understand that things won’t always be predictable. As so much of my work is based in schools, my work can fluctuate a lot over the academic year. There are times when I’m snowed under and stressed beyond belief, and there are times when things go quiet and I wonder if I’ll ever work again. Understanding that has been vital for me personally, and after several years, I’m more able to anticipate the quiet patches and prepare for them.  

The last two years have been a huge challenge (thanks Covid) but I’m proud to have made it through. Take care of yourself. The hours can be long, the days can be lonely (I work alone a lot), and when there’s no one telling you to clock off at 5:30pm, it can be very hard to know when to stop. Try to limit the amount you’re taking on in one day, and make sure you’re making time for yourself. Whether it’s seeing friends, exercising, or doing something that makes you smile, schedule in some You Time every day. Lastly, enjoy yourself and have fun! I absolutely love my job, and for all the madness and mayhem that it brings, I wouldn’t change it for the world! 

What are your plans for the future?  

Who knows? Right now my focus is on getting my new business up and running (it’s still early days) and on getting back into schools. Schools and students have had an incredibly tough time over the last couple of years, and being able to bring a bit of sparkle back to the curriculum feels especially rewarding right now. Other than that, I’m still enjoying the novelty of finally being back in schools, and doing the work I love! For now, I’m thinking about the present – the future can worry about itself! 

Alumni Profile – Kristen Fader, Master of Art Conservation Candidate, Queen’s University, Ontario

Kristen Fader, current Master of Art Conservation Candidate specialising in Japanese and Chinese wood block prints, lithographic prints, papyrus, and sustainability in conservation at Queen’s University, Ontario, Canada.

Kristen Fader is a current Master of Art Conservation Candidate, at Queen’s University, Ontario, Canada. Her specialism is in Japanese and Chinese wood block prints, lithographic prints, papyrus, and sustainability in conservation. She graduated from the University of Exeter with a Masters in Classics and Ancient History in 2020, before returning to her home country.

What have you been doing since leaving Exeter, and what are you doing now?

I have recently begun my Masters of Art Conservation with a specialisation in paper and photographic objects. This is the only program in Canada, and I am one of three students accepted into my stream, so it has been such a ride to preparing for the program, being accepted, and finally being here in the thick of it all. To prepare for applying to this program, I volunteered as a conservation assistant at the Royal Albert Memorial Museum in Exeter while completing a Masters of Classics and Ancient History. I may have never discovered this career path without attending the University of Exeter, so I am so grateful to my time spent in Devon.

Why did you choose this career? And what do you enjoy most about your work?

I choose this career path because I have always loved history. In fact, my undergraduate degree was in Political Science, but I decided to pursue my passion of Ancient History at Exeter. I thought I would go on to do a PhD, but it just wasn’t practical enough for me; fast forward a few months into my M.A. at Exeter and I discovered Art Conservation was something I could do. It combines science (mainly organic chemistry), art history, and practical hands-on art conservation skills. This three-legged stool is something I enjoy most about my career because my expertise is quite multi-disciplinary, something I have always valued throughout my educational path.

What did you enjoy most about your programme at Exeter, and what was the biggest highlight?

I really enjoyed how you could narrow in on your own interests. After discovering art conservation, I began to look at how I could tailor my degree to focus a bit more on art history and conservation ethics since I had mostly been focusing on mythology at that point. I was able to look at the ethics of removing layers of cartonnage from Egyptian mummies, and my thesis focused on concepts of originality and authenticity of Roman “copies” of Greek “originals.” The beginning of the year in 2020 was when COVID became very serious in England, and so I had to return to Canada, but I never would have been able to continue my studies if it wasn’t for the amazing support from everyone in the program.

What skills and experiences have been most useful for your career?

Being flexible/resilient and building up a good knowledge base. Art conservation a lot of the time is almost like a riddle. You have to figure out what the object is, what it is made up of, and then figure out how to conserve it from there. Sometimes things works, and sometimes they really don’t. It is in these times that you have to be confident in what you have studied outside of the lab, and also be resilient to go back in and try something else.

What advice would you give to a current student who wishes to pursue your career?

Do you chemistry classes! Unfortunately I had to take a year to take organic chemistry because I did not have all of my requirements for applying. Chemistry is such a vital component of this field, and it has been so great beginning to see how chemistry can be applied in an art conservation context.

What are your plans for the future?

For my program, I have two internships to complete in the summer after studies each year. My plan is to complete one at the British Museum, or possibly the British Library, next summer. I hope to set up my professional career in either England or Europe, and so having already lived in England, I am very grateful that I now know how to go through that process.

My Placement with Carclew Estate, Cornwall

Madeline Howard is a current BA English student at the University of Exeter, Penryn Campus. She took the Humanities in the Workplace placement module and worked with Carclew Estate  – a ruined country house estate located between Penryn and Mylor, which is now a haven for wildlife. 

Madeline Howard, current BA English student at the University of Exeter, Penryn Campus

Why did you decide to take a placement module?

I took the module because I felt that it would be a good way of allowing me to see how Humanities degrees allow for a variety of job opportunities, and not just be an English teacher like everyone suggests! I also felt that it would be interesting to do a module that wasn’t strictly like all of the other ones that I was doing – everything else was very text heavy (as expected!) so it was really good to have a module that was far much more discussion based and had a somewhat more casual structure than that of other modules.

“My placement was heavily based on independent research, looking at what certain rooms at the estate may have looked like prior to the extensive damage to the estate that was caused by a fire in the 1930s.”

What type of work you did on your placement? How do you feel this has given you experience for your future studies/career?

My placement was heavily based on independent research, looking at what certain rooms at the estate may have looked like prior to the extensive damage to the estate that was caused by a fire in the 1930s. The independence I had whilst working was hugely beneficial – it made me trust my own work and judgement more, it allowed me for more analytical skills. I felt a huge improvement across my skill set. Furthermore, I feel that these developed skills are so important to my future studies which I can then point out in my Masters applications and soon after in job applications.

“The placement was also nothing like any other jobs or work experience I’ve had before, so it was really enjoyable to have something that was brand new to me, which again really helped me to gain skills that I didn’t have before.”

What did you enjoy most about your placement?

There were so many aspects of the placement that I enjoyed, but it was in particular the independence I enjoyed the most, but also knowing that there was support if I needed it, and that was really reassuring. I was also able to work at my own pace which did really help me learn more about my own time-management skills but also highlighting areas of work that I am now aware that I need to improve on. The placement was also nothing like any other jobs or work experience I’ve had before, so it was really enjoyable to have something that was brand new to me, which again really helped me to gain skills that I didn’t have before.

How has COVID19 affected your placement?

During the module, Covid-19 meant that it was incredibly hard to find and complete a placement, so unfortunately I had to choose an alternative assessment to finish the module. However, I was still determined to do a placement after the module had ended like I had first agreed to, and wanted to do so. By the time I had started the placement, Covid-19 restrictions had eased and we were back to a ‘normal’ way of living that we didn’t have for the past 18 months. However, my placement was done online which was likely to be the way it would have carried out regardless of the pandemic or not.

“Having your own goals and expectations will make you appear confident, and that is something that is hugely beneficial to finding a placement and future jobs.”

Do you have any tips for other students looking for/undertaking a placement?

The best thing to do is do lots of research and really let your placement leaders and or employers know what you want to do and what you want out of your placement. Having your own goals and expectations will make you appear confident, and that is something that is hugely beneficial to finding a placement and future jobs. Also, do not apply so much pressure on yourself; it’s easier said than done, but finding a placement can be really stressful so it’s important that try and ease yourself when you can. There will always be something out there for you, so do not freak yourself out and cause all of this stress. It’s not productive or healthy for you! Just remember to set expectations, set targets and boundaries and make sure you are doing what you want to do.

Find out more about the Humanities in the Workplace placement module

Your Career in Translation

Anam Zafar, Exeter alumn and Translation Editor for Cadenza Academic Translations, and Freelance Literary Translator

Anam Zafar graduated from the University of Exeter in BA French and Arabic, 2018. She’s currently Translation Editor for Cadenza Academic Translations, and is also an award-winning Freelance Literary Translator. 

What have you been doing since leaving Exeter, and what are you doing now?

I’ve done a range of things since leaving Exeter. Since before Exeter, I have been a keen volunteer for various charitable causes, and knew that the humanitarian and development sector was a possible career option. At the same time, I loved my degree, and wanted to be able to use languages in my career. I especially enjoyed translation, which we got to try out in the final year of University, and in final year I decided that I wanted to do an MA in translation.

I wanted to have a break from academia before the MA, so I first worked and volunteered for a year in the humanitarian and development sectors to see what it was like as an employee rather than a volunteer, and to see how my languages could come in useful. I began the year as an intern for Islamic Relief (in Business Development) and was then employed by them temporarily (Archives), before going to Greece for three months to volunteer in refugee camps. Although all these roles needed language skills to a certain extent, I realised that unless I found an actual translation job within the humanitarian and development sector, I would rather engage with the sector as a volunteer. I also realised how much I missed intense language work, I knew that I definitely wanted to do the translation MA. Therefore, one year after graduating from Exeter, I joined the University of Leeds Applied Translation Studies MA course.

“The literary translation work is going well so far: I’ve won some translation awards, been longlisted for another, and have had work published in literary journals.”

The MA made me realise how much I enjoyed literary translation (translating novels and short stories, rather than translating business documents or articles). I knew it was very hard to make a decent living from literary translation alone, but I was determined to fit it into my career somehow. So I decided I would try to become a freelance translator, where I could balance commercial translation work with literary translation work.

After finishing my MA in summer 2020, I went straight into an internship with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna (Editing and Terminology), and at the same time was awarded a literary translation mentorship from the National Centre for Writing. I didn’t do any actual translation as part of the IAEA internship, but I realised how much I enjoyed related language work such as editing English-language articles. I wanted to find a part-time in-house translation position with a translation agency after this internship, to build more experience before going freelance, but at the time there wasn’t anything going in my language pairs.

Instead of spending months applying for jobs, I decided to become a freelance translator straightaway (Jan 2021). I did this for eight months, and was then offered an in-house position as an editor for an agency I was already freelancing for: Cadenza Academic Translations. Now, since September 2021, I work for Cadenza four days a week editing academic articles that have been translated into English from French and Arabic, which leaves time for literary translation on Fridays and some weekday evenings.

I also deliver creative translation workshops in schools with the Stephen Spender Trust. The literary translation work is going well so far: I’ve won some translation awards, been longlisted for another, and have had work published in literary journals. My objective going forward is to work with publishers to translate and publish full-length books from Arabic and French into English. I’m interested in adults and kids literature, including novels, short stories, and graphic novels. I’ve appeared online at some literary festivals this year, and also volunteer for World Kid Lit.

Why did you choose this career? And what do you enjoy most about your work?

As my passion for languages increased during my BA at Exeter and my MA in Leeds, I knew I wanted to use languages in my career. After my internship at IEA where I did a lot of editing, I also realised I’d be happy adding editing to my career. With Cadenza Academic Translations, I enjoy how much I learn about the world on a weekly basis, and being on top of the latest research in the humanities and social sciences by getting to work so closely with academics and their papers!

My colleagues are all equally passionate about languages and editing, and I appreciate the conversations we can have about the placement of punctuation or whether or not to capitalise something – conversations many other people in my life may not appreciate so much!

“With literary translation, I enjoy the creativity needed to recreate a story or a novel in another language. I am a very creative person, and I appreciate being able to use this aspect of myself in my work.”

With literary translation, I enjoy the creativity needed to recreate a story or a novel in another language. I am a very creative person, and I appreciate being able to use this aspect of myself in my work. I also enjoy the freedom that comes with choosing your own projects: if I enjoy a book in French or Arabic, all it takes is to make sure no one else is already translating it, and I can get going with trying to get an extract published in literary journal, or pitching the whole work to English-language publishers. I’ve also made some great friends through the literary translation community.

With both aspects of my career, there are chances to network and socialise, and these are very important to succeeding and finding out about opportunities. But the work itself is very much ‘head down’, which I’m totally fine with. If I enjoy my work, I prefer being left to get on with it and don’t mind sitting in front of the computer on my own for most of my working time. I also appreciate that my career allows me to work from home.

What did you enjoy most about your programme and what was the biggest highlight?

I had some inspirational tutors who genuinely cared about our progress. I enjoyed speaking lessons a lot. The biggest highlight was my year abroad in Jordan, during my Second Year. I think it was a good idea to send us abroad in second year, because our Arabic level improved extremely quickly, which we were then able to hone for two more years when we got back to Exeter.

What skills and experiences have been most useful for your career?

The translation classes I had in my final year at Exeter, for both Arabic and French, were vital to getting me where I am now. The grammar lessons were also vital, because as a translator and editor, you must be able to understand the text in the original language inside out. While I’m only involved in written translation and not spoken interpreting, I still appreciate the spoken language lessons I had in both languages. This allows me to communicate with authors in my literary translation work.

“Do all the homework and attend all the classes – it really makes a difference to be fully committed.”

What advice would you give to a current student who wishes to pursue your career?

Do all the homework and attend all the classes – it really makes a difference to be fully committed. Don’t be afraid to reach out to translators and other types of professional linguists online. As a student, I did this a lot, and it helped me to understand the industry and to work out if this really was the career for me.

What are your plans for the future?

I plan to stay at Cadenza for at least a few years. I also want to continue developing my literary translation work. I’d love to translate some full length works, and will continue pitching to publishers. I also want to continue with translation workshops in schools, and start speaking on panels and giving presentations to encourage emerging and potential literary translators.

Find out more about Anam on her website

Pathways to Arts, Culture and Heritage

Georgie Rubega is a current University of Exeter student studying BA Liberal Arts with Study Abroad. In June 2021 she took part in the Pathways to Arts, Culture and Heritage programme.

Tell us about the work you carried out during your Professional Pathways internship. 

Georgie Rubega, BA Liberal Arts with Study Abroad, and Professional Pathways intern.

During my Professional Pathways internship at Powderham Castle my job title was Educational Visit Programmer, and my main role was to work on a project to create a teacher pack for a new school class visit to Powderham. This involved extensive research on both the history of Powderham, including visiting and touring the castle, and the educational programming area of the heritage sector in order to know what to include in the document. I had to make sure that my proposed school visit supported the National Curriculum, had cross-curricular activities, and of course, was inspired by and originated from Powderham Castle’s history. Overall, it allowed me to be creative in the production of the final document and thinking up the activities and use my written communication, IT, and research skills extensively.

How has the Professional Pathways programme helped you in taking the next steps in your career?

The Professional Pathways programme was really useful as it helped me confirm my decision to pursue a career in the Arts, Culture, and Heritage sector. The training days were an amazing introduction to the different areas of the sector, such as educational programming, marketing, commercialisation etc. and really showed me how diverse and interesting the sector is. The internship itself at Powderham Castle also opened my eyes to the reality of working for a heritage organisation and the experience I have gained will certainly boost my CV and help me stand out in the future.

“The Arts, Culture, and Heritage sector is known to be quite hard to get a job in and so any experience you can get will definitely help to boost your CV and make you stand out.”

How do you think this experience will impact on your employability as you enter the job market as a recent graduate?

The Arts, Culture, and Heritage sector is known to be quite hard to get a job in and so any experience you can get will definitely help to boost your CV and make you stand out, and I know having my internship at Powderham Castle to look back on and refer to going forward, will definitely stand me in good stead for my future career! Furthermore, I feel I developed a good relationship with my line manager and so I hope this networking and connection will also help my employability as I now have a contact in the sector who may think of me for roles in the future.

What advice would you give to a student who has to complete an internship remotely?
I would say that maintaining regular contact with your line manager is a must in order to stay motivated and to check you are working as they want you to – during my internship we had a WhatsApp chat which was really useful as it meant I could get replies to my messages quicker than if I was to send an email, and we also did a few Zoom meetings to chat more extensively. There were two other Pathways students also doing the Powderham Castle internship, so we also had a group chat together to discuss how we were getting on with our work and ask each other any questions which also helped to not feel as isolated and more like a team!

Applications for Professional Pathways 2022 are now open and you can find further details on the different Pathway programmes and how to apply. We plan to run the training in-person on our Streatham Campus and internships available will be a mix of workplace-based roles and remote-working positions. The deadline to apply is Tuesday 18 January 2022 at 1:00pm.

 

My ‘with Employment Experience’ in Spain

Emily Worgan is a Final Year student studying BA History and Ancient History with Employment Experience, at the University of Exeter.

Emily Worgan is a Final Year student studying BA History and Ancient History with Employment Experience, at the University of Exeter. She talked to us about what it was like living and working in Spain, and the unexpectedly powerful impact it had on her life. 

Humanities undergraduates can gain work experience across a wide range of sectors as part of their degree on programmes such as ‘with Employment Experience’ or the ‘Humanities in the Workplace’ module. If you’re a Humanities student and want to find out more about work placements head to: https://humanities.exeter.ac.uk/careers/undergraduatestudents/   

When I had decided to include ‘with employment experience’ in my degree, I hadn’t expected to be where I am now. I had always been keen to live and work abroad at some point in my life, with aspirations to practice my less than mediocre language skills and push myself out of my comfort zone. However, when I attended a placement fair at university in my second year, I had looked at domestic placements, being anxious about actually deciding to apply for a placement abroad. I looked on Handshake, in newsletters, on websites and more. However, after not finding anything which really excited me, I was introduced to the British Council, an organisation which aims to promote the English language and British culture. The British Council has a program which allows people to be placed in other countries as a language assistant, teaching a range of ages and in a variety of locations.

“Due to the pandemic and Brexit, it was hit or miss as to whether I would or even could carry out my placement, yet, in September 2020, I took my first solo flight to Madrid and then travelled on to Soria to start my experience.”

I had originally wanted to apply to France, as I had taken a module of French and wished to develop my language skills further. However, it was required to have a B1 level of French in order to apply, and I had A2. Therefore, I looked to apply to Spain, where it was not a requirement to know the language to a high level. I have never truly studied Spanish, yet wished to really push myself (which, in hindsight, was absolutely mad!).

The application process was fairly simple and the university was a great support when it came to the personal statement and reference. When the pandemic happened, I was convinced that the program would not continue and that I would have to carry out my ultimate year of my degree instead. However, the British Council decided to continue with the program and informed me that I had been successful in my application in June.

Due to the pandemic and Brexit, it was hit or miss as to whether I would or even could carry out my placement, yet, in September 2020, I took my first solo flight to Madrid and then travelled on to Soria to start my experience.

“…don’t be disappointed if you feel scared or homesick when you first arrive – it is normal… Be kind to yourself and recognise that this is just another challenge to overcome!”

The first night was the hardest and I had considered giving up, however I persevered and day-by-day being away from home became easier. I had amazing support from people in Soria that I had met online and my colleagues were incredibly helpful during those first days. The most important thing to remember when you take on an experience like this, is that it is going to be hard at first but it definitely gets easier. So, don’t be disappointed if you feel scared or homesick when you first arrive- it is normal. Once you get past your first few days, you can be proud that you overcame the panic and then look forward to the amazing experience that you will have. Be kind to yourself and recognise that this is just another challenge to overcome!

Now, over a year later, my experience since that night has been the most incredible of my life. I have never felt so independent, confident and proud. It has certainly been hard – I have had problems processing paperwork, finding somewhere to live and not knowing the language is difficult. However, now I know more, especially in terms of the language, and have incredible support from friends and co-workers here. I have met people from France, the US, China, and Ecuador, not to mention those from all over Spain! I have had several opportunities to visit beautiful places such as Segovia, Léon and Zaragoza, and try new foods and truly experience Spanish culture. I have a say ‘yes’ policy in which I push myself to experience more, despite being anxious. This policy has allowed me to have the best time!

“Now, over a year later, my experience since that night has been the most incredible of my life. I have never felt so independent, confident and proud.”

Working in a primary school in a small village has definitely been a positive experience. Teaching these children and communicating with them has allowed me to make decisions on my future career path. We learn from each other, and every day at work feels like I am in class as well. The staff have been so welcoming and supportive, and many are now my friends. To share my culture and experiences with the children and add to their curiosity has made me very happy! I hope to have had a positive impact on these children’s lives by the end of my placement. I can truly say that I look forward to going to work!

“When I return to University, I know that I will carry this experience for the rest of my life and that if I can get through this, then I can be truly proud of myself.”

So, when I think back to when I had applied to do a with employment experience, this outcome was not what I had in mind. I had expected to have either a placement in the UK or France, and living normally, without a pandemic. But now, I have lifelong friends, an international family and an experience that has made me understand the importance of independence. When I return to University, I know that I will carry this experience for the rest of my life and that if I can get through this, then I can be truly proud of myself.