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! 

Your route into Trade Marketing Management

Kate Blackmore, Exeter alumn and Trade Marketing Manager, Wella Company

Kate Blackmore graduated from the University of Exeter with a BA Geography, 2015. She’s currently Trade Marketing Manager, Wella Company

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

After leaving Exeter I wanted to work for an FMCG company. I applied for a few graduate schemes but was unsuccessful, mostly because I struggled with the speed of the Numerical Reasoning Tests! I got a job in sales in Exeter and worked as an Account Manager for just under a year. With that experience I was able to join PepsiCo as a Sales Development Representative (the same job the graduate scheme starts on).

As an SDR my role was to visit 11 stores per day, speak with the manager and try to educate them about the best range to stock and how to display them, plus help merchandise the fixtures to maximise sales. It was a lot of hard work, and a lot of driving, but I loved working with the customers and it was nice to know that a lot of the leadership team at Pepsi had also come into the company through this role. I was promoted within the year to Trade Marketing Executive, based at PepsiCo Head Office.

“I had no experience in Trade Marketing at all, but PepsiCo supported me to learn the ropes. Trade Marketing is essentially the go-between for Marketing and Sales.”

I had no experience in Trade Marketing at all, but the company supported me to learn the ropes. Trade Marketing is essentially the go-between for Marketing and Sales. Brand Marketing create new campaigns and new launches, Trade Marketing work on the pricing, promotions, forecasts and targets, point of sale materials, planograms, sales presentations, briefing meetings and anything else needed to execute the launch, then sales sell it into customers.

After two years in role, I decided I wanted to take some time out to travel. I quit my job and started working for Topdeck Travel as a Trip Leader – essentially my role was to lead group tours around Europe. I would collect a group of up to 48 18-30 year olds in London, and travel with them around Europe, organising all the on-the-ground logistics and giving tours into the history and culture of each country. I did this for one ‘summer season’, then spent the winter backpacking in Latin America. Then Covid hit!

“I was pleased to know I could come back to my career at a higher level than before, and my employability hadn’t been destroyed by my year of travel!”

While travelling, I had lined up my next role in my Trade Marketing career, as a Trade Marketing Manager in the beauty industry. I was pleased to know I could come back to my career at a higher level than before, and my employability hadn’t been destroyed by my year of travel! I started working for Wella Company in their Gain/Grow team, developing plans to gain new customers to the business. After one year I was promoted to my current role, managing the execution of Colour campaigns (our biggest brands).

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

I got into Trade Marketing mostly at the suggestion of the management team at PepsiCo – when the role came up, they recommended me for it and felt it would suit my skill set. I hadn’t even heard of Trade Marketing when I was at university! I love that my work is closely linked to the execution of campaigns and has real tangible results – even just walking past a salon window and seeing POS I created. I also love how cross-functional Trade Marketing is as you really do work with all parts of the business – you work most closely with Sales and Marketing, but I also have to work with Supply Chain to ensure we have the right forecasts, with Finance to build the promotions and EComm to ensure the digital side of the business matches what we put out in person, with Category Management and Consumer Insights to ensure we get the messaging right and so much more!

“I wish I’d known, when I was at Uni, that there are a million different routes your career could take. There are different ways to achieve the same result – the career I have now is the same as if I had got onto the grad schemes.”

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

I think the biggest take-away from my time at Exeter was learning to put yourself out there and try new things.

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

I wish I’d known, when I was at Uni, that there are a million different routes your career could take. There are different ways to achieve the same result – the career I have now is the same as if I had got onto the grad schemes. There are pros and cons of each approach – grad schemes tend to offer additional support and can offer a faster pace of progression, but often at the expense of control over your career and you sometimes have to work stints in jobs you wouldn’t necessarily have chosen. It can be a bit harder (but not impossible) to progress at the same pace off the schemes, but you can absolutely work for the same companies, in the same roles, and you’ll have more choice over which moves you make internally. I was also so scared to take time out to travel, but I would recommend it to anyone!

Celebrating International Women’s Day 2022, Helen Thomas, Senior Executive Producer, BBC Studios

For International Women’s Day 2022 we’re celebrating the career of Helen Thomas, who graduated from the University of Exeter with Physics with Medical Physics, 1982.

Helen is currently Senior Executive Producer for BBC Studios, specialising in science broadcasting, working with Sir David Attenborough, Brian Cox and many more. Find out how her time at Exeter helped shaped her passion for science communication.

Helen Thomas, Senior Executive Producer, BBC Studios and Exeter alumn

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

I joined the BBC as an Audio Assistant after leaving University and worked as a sound engineer in television, film and radio – in studios and on location. It was such varied work: from boom op on dramas such as ‘Casualty’ to fitting radio mics on TV shows from Sunday night favourites such as ‘Antiques Roadshow’. I worked as a Spot Effects Op for documentary films – creating footsteps alongside a myriad of other sound effects on cue. I assisted with the sound recording of music programmes on Radio 2 and 3 and current affairs, drama and poetry programmes on Radio 4.

“I have been responsible for a wide range of science programming for the BBC and International Broadcasters from live series such as ‘Stargazing Live with Brian Cox and Dara Ó Briain’, to hard-hitting, journalistically rigorous films such as BAFTA nominated ‘Extinction: The Facts’ with Sir David Attenborough, and ‘Coronavirus: A Horizon Special’.”

However after a few years of working on the technical side of broadcasting I found I missed Science and decided to change the direction of my career and move into Production. I started as a trainee Assistant Producer in the Science Unit, working on live TV programmes such as ‘Tomorrow’s World’. I then moved into making long-form documentary and science films as a Producer and Director.

After working as a Series Producer (making series of programmes, rather than individual films) I became an Executive Producer in 2010. Since then I have been responsible for a wide range of science programming for the BBC and International Broadcasters from live series such as ‘Stargazing Live with Brian Cox and Dara Ó Briain’, to hard-hitting, journalistically rigorous films such as BAFTA nominated ‘Extinction: The Facts’ with Sir David Attenborough; ‘Greta Thunberg: A Year To Change The World’, and ‘Coronavirus: A Horizon Special’.

“I feel incredibly lucky to have such a stimulating career. I am relentlessly curious about the world and how it works and my job allows me to explore topics as wide ranging as space travel, medicine and climate change.”

I have made expedition series such as ‘Journey to Fire Mountain’ with Kate Humble and competition series such as BBC2’s ‘Astronauts: Do You Have What It Takes’ headed by Astronaut Chris Hadfield.

My credits also include emotionally charged medical documentaries such as ‘Your Life in Their Hands’ and ‘Countdown to Life’. At the moment I’m making a programme that hasn’t yet been announced so I’m afraid I can’t mention what it’s about or who it’s being presented by – but it involves shooting in a Virtual Studio set up which has been really exciting as it’s the first time it’s been attempted in this way for a documentary.

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

I’ve always loved music – which is what drew me to the role of a sound engineer. After a few years, however, I began to miss Science and decided that I wanted to combine Broadcasting with Science – and that’s when I became an Assistant Producer in the Science Unit. I feel incredibly lucky to have such a stimulating career. I am relentlessly curious about the world and how it works and my job allows me to explore topics as wide ranging as space travel, medicine and climate change. I enjoy helping to tell people’s stories as well as having the opportunity to meet and work with incredibly interesting, diverse programme contributors.

“I studied alongside people who challenged my views and opinions which was invaluable. I learned how to assimilate new information quickly, how to work as part of a team and how to present written and spoken arguments – which has been useful ever since.”

I work with fantastic, creative teams and make series which I really hope inform and entertain audiences. No two days are the same and the problems I have to solve are endlessly varied. My work is a wonderful creative outlet as I can develop ideas, write scripts, work with on-screen talent and head complex productions on locations and in the studio. I can’t single out one particular aspect as it is this variety which makes it so rewarding.

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

Studying Physics was extremely useful for both Sound Engineering and Science Journalism. The course helped me turn my curiosity into an ability to research thoroughly and it enabled me to hone my analytical skills. I studied alongside people who challenged my views and opinions which was invaluable. I learned how to assimilate new information quickly, how to work as part of a team and how to present written and spoken arguments – which has been useful ever since. I believe gaining a Physics degree enabled me to pursue my career in broadcasting.

“I believe gaining a Physics degree enabled me to pursue my career in broadcasting.”

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

If you are studying for a Science degree consider one of the MSc courses available in the UK in Science Communication. In my experience they are a very good stepping stone towards a career in Science Broadcast Journalism. Follow the Science news stories, discuss with friends, form opinions, but also watch films and television and analyse what works well and what doesn’t and why. Try to gain experience whilst you are studying by joining a relevant society such as a film, TV or radio society. Consider which stories you think are important and you really want to tell – perhaps you can make a short film – perhaps shot on your mobile phone to demonstrate your interest.

What are your plans for the future?

I so enjoy making science-based television programmes that I plan to continue doing that. In a world that has become prey to so much disinformation, I believe there has never been a more important time for us make programmes that are factually accurate, accessible and stimulating.

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.

Wribhu Ghosh – My Career in Renewable Energy Engineering

Wribhu Ghosh graduated from the University of Exeter, Camborne School of Mines, Penryn, with an MSc Renewable Energy Engineering, 2020. He’s currently a Data Analyst with Celtic Sea Power. 

Before my MSc I was a mechanical engineer, and had a career in the auto industry in India. I was a regional service manager overseeing the business and operation in seven states, with a team in the excess of four hundred people reporting to me directly or indirectly.

Then I started growing a conscience. I feel the term ‘saving the planet’ is massively arrogant and the fight is actually for saving humanity, and is the biggest threat humanity has ever faced and everyone is obliged to contribute to this fight in whatever capacity possible.

“I started growing a conscience. I feel the term ‘saving the planet’ is massively arrogant and the fight is actually for saving humanity… everyone is obliged to contribute to this fight in whatever capacity possible.”

Wribhu Ghosh, MSc Renewable Energy Engineering, and current Data Analyst with Celtic Sea Power

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

Academia and seeking knowledge and qualification was the first step for me. The course was initially intimidating after coming back to education post a twelve-year hiatus, but the University and the curriculum, the faculty, and the staff were extremely friendly, supportive, and encouraging that I have never felt this inspired in my life. The course is very expensive for someone coming from a weaker economy, but it was absolutely worth it.

The course was full-on and I wanted to invest every ounce of my energy to learn as much. This became my life and I didn’t have time for any distraction, and I enjoyed every second of it.

The thoughtful design of the curriculum, how it was kept open and left to the students to pursue their interest, and how the institution and the faculty provided every kind of support to go into as much detail with it. ‘Uncle Kev’ – as we would call Doctor Kev Hughes – always said, “knowledge is cheap and easily available, but it’s the skills that are worth its weight in gold”. I think that’s the biggest takeaway, and also the biggest difference from the previous education system I am coming from where I struggled to keep my motivation at times.

“The course was initially intimidating after coming back to education post a twelve-year hiatus, but the University and the curriculum, the faculty, and the staff were extremely friendly, supportive, and encouraging that I have never felt this inspired in my life.”

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

In the second term, I took one module called Sustainable Architecture, the main reason for taking it was the module leader Adam, and I just wanted to work with him. His enthusiasm energy and honesty were infectious. I didn’t have any other expectations from that module initially and focussed my attention on the other more engineering focussed modules. But in my previous job designing solutions to make domestic properties energy efficient and cutting their carbon footprint, the knowledge I acquired in that module has proven invaluable.

After my MSc I was employed by ZLC Energy Limited as a Renewable Energy Design Engineer.

My role included

  • Designing and delivering renewable energy solutions including Solar PV, Solar Thermal, Heat Pumps as well as develop skills in Wind, Hydro, and Combined Heat and Power.
  • Developing initial as well as detailed designs, performance calculations, installation specifications, system drawings, and schematics.
  • Project support by developing detailed project planning, procurement of necessary materials and equipment, method statements, and risk analysis.
  • Tracking of jobs, including cost and schedule analysis as well as securing third party approvals like planning, and grid connection
  • Monitoring and evaluation of individual and alternative sustainable technologies specifically all aspects of microgeneration, energy efficiency, off-grid autonomy, water harvesting, and recycling
  • Developing integration solution including control system engineering as well as evaluation and monitoring of product suppliers

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

Keep an open mind, and never get intimidated by anything. There are wonderful people around to help with it, but you must make the first step towards it. Never feel shy to reach out.

“Keep an open mind, and never get intimidated by anything. There are wonderful people around to help with it, but you must make the first step towards it. Never feel shy to reach out.”

What are your plans for the future?

I am currently working as a Data Analyst for Celtic Sea Power, and offshore wind has always captured my imagination. I do have aspirations of teaching young minds and in a few years will probably come back to academia. I also want to do something meaningful for my home country India, whose taxpayer money subsidized my first degree and helped me be where I am today.

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

How to Use your Finance Degree to Pursue a Career in Jordan

Raniah Raed Talal Shawkat, University of Exeter alumn, and current Acting Credit Manager, Iiwwa Inc, Jordan

Raniah Raed Talal Shawkat graduated from the University of Exeter with an Msc in Finance and Management. She’s currently Acting Credit Manager, Iiwwa Inc, Jordan.

Where do you currently live and work? 

I now live and work in Jordan. After my studies in Exeter, I joined multiple internships then started working as credit officer for SMEs clients at liwwa, Inc. I’ve been with them for 3 years and 3 months, and recently promoted as Acting Credit Manager.

Why did you choose to pursue this career?

I chose this career as it needs analytical skills in addition to decision making, which I like. And I can use the knowledge and skills acquired during my studies to implement and develop through this career.

Why did you choose to study at the University of Exeter?

The first point as it is one of the top UK universities, the second thing is my interest in the programme I wanted to study and finally its location as I know some relatives and friends who studied there previously and could gave me ideas and advice about the city. I liked everything about Exeter: the city, the campus, the availability of resources at the library.

Why did you choose your particular degree subject?

I liked the programme and its modules. I also took into account recommendations form friends studied there before me.

How did your degree help you prepare for the position you are in now?

It taught me analytical thinking, quick problem solving, ownership, entrepreneurship, solidarity, agility, and active listening.

Please tell us about the application process for your graduate job, and how you prepared and/or managed this?

I found the job through LinkedIn, went through multiple interviews, the cover letter and a follow up email reflecting on the interview, expressing the interest, the skills and values that can be added had a good impact.

Did you use the Career Zone whilst at Exeter? If so, what especially helped?

I attended some job fairs at the campus which was helpful to get an idea and planning about the career.

What aspects of your UK university education worked in your favour during the application process?

I could sense the focus on developing analytical skills and strategic thinking. Also, living abroad alone for the first time in my life taught me a lot of things and made me a stronger person mentally.

What did you do at university that you think gave you a competitive advantage in the job market in your home-country?

The practical dissertation part of my degree. It gave me the opportunity to work on a real life cases, analyse the financial theories and practice forecasting and valuation which solidified all that I had learnt through the programme on a practical level. I also was a member of the Financial group.

What were the biggest obstacles in gaining a graduate job in your home-country?

There is almost no or very rare organizations that offer internships for graduates, this has a bad impact especially for people who didn’t gain much experience before getting their postgraduate degree.

What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were applying for opportunities?

The importance of continuous learning and obtaining professional qualifications.

What is your advice for any international student seeking a career in finance and wanting to follow a similar path to you?

I would encourage them to focus on their studies from the first day they join the school.

Our alumni networks in these countries are available to help you socially and professionally now and in the future. You can connect with them whilst you are a student to take advantage of their support when you are back home during holiday season, and of course, reach out to them when you graduate.

The Alumni Office organise regular virtual employability events, which are a useful resource both for graduates and current students. For a full listing of events, please click here and to watch historic records, please click here

Alumni Profile – André Luis Martins Filho, Co-Founder and Head of Product at Uello

André Luis Martins Filho studied Bsc Engineering and Management at the University of Exeter on a 1 year exchange program, Graduating in 2016. He is the Co-Founder and Head of Product at Uello

André Luis Martins Filho, University of Exeter alumni, and Co-Founder and Head of Product at Uello

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

As soon as I left Exeter, I came back to Brazil and co-founded Uello, a logistics tech startup. Going straight from the University to founding a startup is not your usual career path, and it has been very demanding. We began as a company of just 2 people sitting in a co-working space, validating the business model. Today we have over 90 employees, 10,000+registered drivers, and have delivered over 2 million packages in Brazil with an innovative business model revolving around the gig economy and technology. When you found a startup, you have to do a little bit of everything from carrying boxes in warehouses and delivering packages to modelling the business plan, planning budgets and building operational processes. Today, I lead the product division of the company and am responsible for identifying, prioritizing and delivering technology and product enhancements.

“When you found a startup, you have to do a little bit of everything from carrying boxes in warehouses and delivering packages to modelling the business plan, planning budgets and building operational processes.”

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

I always liked doing things differently than expected. At Exeter, for example, I sought out experiences that I would have never had in Brazil, such as being a part of the Rifle Club. Many of my friends and classmates from University were seeking out careers in banking, corporate or consulting, but I wanted a different experience. What I enjoy most about my work is how much ownership I have. I am a part of every major decision that the company makes and am involved in every step in a way it would take me years to achieve had I followed a more traditional career path. I also like the fact that I can look back and be proud of how much we built from scratch; it is very satisfying and keeps me going even in the hardest times.

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

I have always been a very practical person; I prefer to get my hands dirty and actually execute rather than just study. The Engineering and Management course provided me with several opportunities to visit actual companies and see our studies in action and being implemented. My final paper, which I wrote under the tutelage of Prof Voicu Ion Sucala, was a wonderful experience exactly for this reason. I got to work with a metal manufacturing company directly and simulate their processes in different scenarios. It was great to present my results and to know they would be used to generate positive results for a real company. I left wanting to experience that again with more intensity.

What did you enjoy most about studying here?

I enjoyed how international my experience in Exeter was. I got to meet people from all over the world, to live among them, and learn a lot from them. It expanded my horizons a lot.

“What I enjoy most about my work is how much ownership I have. I am a part of every major decision that the company makes and am involved in every step in a way it would take me years to achieve had I followed a more traditional career path.”

Why did you choose to study at Exeter?

The University of Exeter was one of the most prestigious and recognized universities available within the scholarship programme I was a part of. At the time, though I was studying engineering, I very much wanted to pursue a career in business. The Engineering and Management course seemed like a great fit for what I wanted, and my experience at Exeter and how it has influenced me since underscores how great that choice has been for me.

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

In an early stage startup everyone has to be generalist to some extent. There are just not enough people to have specialization. So I think that being able to navigate through most areas of a business whilst not necessarily being a specialist in any was invaluable. Courses like Business, Engineering and Management and others provide the necessary knowledge to become that generalist. For a startup, being tech savvy enough to communicate with and understand software engineers and other people in more technical fields is also critical. The rest is drive, dedication, and hard work.

“For a startup, being tech savvy enough to communicate with and understand software engineers and other people in more technical fields is also critical. The rest is drive, dedication, and hard work.”

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

Find a company with a mission and identity to which you connect completely. You are going to be working a lot and facing difficult odds, so there has to be a lot of drive, motivation, and eagerness to make this work. This only happens when there is fit between you and what the company represents. Also, don’t be afraid to take risks, especially in the beginning of your career because it only gets harder to take those risks later.

What are your plans for the future?

I fell in love with the startup and innovation environment. I plan to keep with it, either growing Uello beyond and beyond or helping other companies navigate through their journey.

Alumni Profile – Alla Alexeeva, Finance Controller, Chanel

Alla Alexeeva graduated from the University of Exeter with an MSc Accounting and Finance, 2010. She’s currently Finance Controller (Russia & CIS), Chanel 

Alla Alexeeva, University of Exeter alumn, and current Finance Controller (Russia & CIS), Chanel

Where do you currently live and work? 

I live in Russia. I started my career in the beauty industry when I joined L’Oreal as an Intern just after graduation and was promoted to the position of Budget Controller within a couple of months. Now, I am working as a Finance Controller within the biggest business divisions at Chanel Russia & CIS and managing a team of three finance analysts.

Why did you choose to pursue this career?

My current job is very business oriented. It requires a lot of communication skills. My colleagues not only work in Russia, but also in Paris, London and NYC.

And for those less familiar with the term, what is a Finance Controller?

A Finance Controller is a business-oriented role. A person in this position would be responsible for strategic planning and budgeting, reporting, business analysis and finance key performance indicators.

“My advice on becoming more employable would be to never stop believing in yourself… Being confident and hard-working got me to where I am.” 

 Why did you choose to study at the University of Exeter?

I chose to study at the University of Exeter as it was in the Top 10 rankings in the Times and the Guardian when I started to look for the right place to study. The University provided very comfortable accommodation for international students and the city had good infrastructure. I would definitely recommend a Masters at Exeter due to all the new knowledge I gained, the friendly atmosphere, great networking opportunities among alumni, and the wonderful experience of living abroad in a very cosy city with great history and many places to explore.

Why did you choose your particular degree subject?

I chose to study this subject because I enjoyed studying economics in my bachelors degree and the programme suited these skills.

 How did your degree help you prepare for the position you are in now?

The Business School gave me a lot of practice in building strong relationships with people from different countries who spoke other languages. This is a beneficial skill for all young professionals starting their career in any field.

“While studying at University, I attended numbers of career events, which helped me in the future to do my best during the interviews and throughout the application process.”

Please tell us about the application process for your graduate job, and how you prepared and/or managed this?

I started the process when I was writing my dissertation in the library. I initially planned to apply for an internship with L’Oreal UK, but there were no vacancies. So, I sent my CV to L’Oreal Russia. I finished my dissertation in the middle of September in Exeter and joined the L’Oreal office in Moscow starting from 1st of November. The whole of October was dedicated to interviews and assessment days.

Did you use the Career Zone whilst at Exeter? If so, what especially helped?

While studying at University, I attended numbers of career events, which helped me in the future to do my best during the interviews and throughout the application process.

 What aspects of your UK university education worked in your favour during the application process?

It is compulsory to have an in-depth understanding of all international accounting standards while working as a Finance Controller. The knowledge I gained at University was a solid basis to develop my skills in this field.

“Many employers are searching for candidates with previous work experience – even for entry level positions. Therefore, I highly recommend starting internships and part-time jobs as soon as possible to be the first on the list for the best vacancies after graduation.”

What did you do at university that you think gave you a competitive advantage in the job market in your home-country?

I believe that my communication skills are excellent because I spent 2 years in the UK (1 year studying a pre-masters course in London, 1 year doing a Masters in University of Exeter Business School). It also helped me improve my self-confidence and endurance under stress. I also developed fluency in English, a deep knowledge of IFRS (International Financial Reporting Standards) and a particularly good command of Excel.

What were the biggest obstacles in gaining a graduate job in your home-country?

Many employers are searching for candidates with previous work experience – even for entry level positions. Therefore, I highly recommend starting internships and part-time jobs as soon as possible to be the first on the list for the best vacancies after graduation.

What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were applying for opportunities?

My advice for students would be to remember that if you are accepted on a course, you become an asset to the University. It is your right to make your University greater by achieving excellent academic results and taking a breath-taking career path.

What is your advice for any international student seeking a career in finance and wanting to follow a similar path to you?

My advice on becoming more employable would be to never stop believing in yourself. If somebody had told me ten years ago that I would hold one of the top positions in Finance at Chanel Russia, I would never believe them. Being confident and hard-working got me to where I am.

Our alumni networks are available to help you socially and professionally now and in the future. You can connect with them whilst you are a student to take advantage of their support when you are back home during holiday season, and of course, reach out to them when you graduate.

 The Alumni Office organise regular virtual employability events, which are a useful resource both for graduates and current students. For a full listing of events, please click here, and to watch historic records, please click here.

Alumni Profile – Fatima Hudoon, Freelance Journalist

Fatima Hudoon, University of Exeter Alumn and Freelance Journalist.

Fatima Hudoon graduated from the University of Exeter in BA Arabic with German and International Relations and Study Abroad (Jordan), 2019. She’s currently a Freelance Journalist.   

Fatima will be one of the speakers on our ‘Working in Journalism – Virtual Alumni Panel Event’ Tuesday, October 19th 2021, 17:30 – 18:45. Find out more and book your place https://app.joinhandshake.co.uk/events/12153

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

A few months after leaving Exeter in 2019, I started working as an Early Career Journalist at The Bristol Cable, a local community-owned media outlet based in my home city. I was employed as part of a pilot scheme called the Early Career Journalism Placement that sought to give a paid work opportunity to upcoming journalists or those who want to give journalism a go. What was meant to be a five-month-long placement turned out to be a year and three-months-long. With no prior journalistic experience, I was trained up by Cable staff and received training from the Centre for Investigative Journalism. I quickly began pitching, researching, interviewing and writing my own stories. From both General and Local elections to the Covid-19 pandemic and co-launching a mental health series, I went on to cover a variety of stories for print and online. My placement ended in February 2021 I have been freelancing full-time ever since. I regularly write for the Bristol Cable as a freelancer and continued building on my freelancing portfolio for other publications, most recently BBC West. Alongside journalism, I also freelance as a social media manager for a local community organisation. I am currently focusing on my professional development undertaking training with the CIJ as a Lyra McKee Bursary recipient in data investigations and Tactical Tech’s Exposing the Invisible Institute.

“There’s always more to learn and that keeps the profession interesting. Most importantly, I get to tell underreported stories and hold institutions to account. It feels right for me.”

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

When I found out about the Bristol Cable EJC Placement, it had the right combination of research, analysis, writing, potential to use my language skills, and getting comprehensive training. These were all factors that were important to me. As I began doing my own reporting I realised journalism has a good range of variety and has plenty of opportunity to scale and mould the path in a way that works for you. Enjoy the job because it’s a challenge. There’s always more to learn and that keeps the profession always interesting. Most importantly, I get to tell underreported stories and hold institutions to account. It feels right for me.

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

By far my Year Abroad in Jordan was my biggest highlight. I saw an exponential improvement in my Arabic, and even had opportunities to volunteer to put it to use and I made lifelong friends. It was also a year that made me realise that I wanted to learn languages as a means to achieve something rather than it being the end. And so after taking a sabbatical from my studies, I took on International Relations in my third year; the best decision I made.

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

So far, my language skills have been a huge asset in my reporting. There were several times when I conducted interviews in Somali, German and Arabic. This not only better informed the respective stories but also helped give a voice to people who may otherwise not have their voices heard. Experiment with your writing skills and find your voice. As I start developing my data journalism skills, I realised that knowing a programming language is increasingly becoming a useful skill (though not necessary). I did the Institute of Coding’s Summer School programme for learning Python. If courses like that are still on offer for students I would encourage participation as tech skills are in increasing demand.

“There were several times when I conducted interviews in Somali, German and Arabic. This not only better informed the respective stories but also helped give a voice to people who may otherwise not have their voices heard. Experiment with your writing skills and find your voice.”

What are your plans for the future?

I’m still figuring this out but for now I’ll say it is to work as a foreign correspondent of some sort. Whether that’s in the UK working for a German or Arabic publication or abroad for a British paper. Either way, as long as I can use my languages in my journalistic work – and learn new ones if opportunities offer it – then I’ll be more than satisfied.

What advice would you give to a current student who’d like to get into journalism?

The obvious advice would be to get as much experience writing stories as possible – in whatever form writing, radio, TV. That can be the student newspaper, the local papers and/or setting up your own platform. If you’re going on a Year Abroad, think about what kind stories you could write from there. This will give you a good head start.