Career Options - English

  • Career Options - English

Destinations of Queen's English Graduates

A survey of graduates six months after graduation reveals that QUB graduates from English have recently gone into the following roles: 

English (UG) - Sourcing Specialist, Business Billing advisor, Editorial Assistant, Enterprise Marketing Executive, Programme and Contract Manager, Associate Consultant, Hospitality Manager, Executive Accountant, Events Organiser, Junior technical author, Wedding Co-ordinator, Web content and e-communications provider, Digital Marketing Assistant, Speech Therapist Assistant, Workflow Coordinator, Account Manager, Marketing and Social Media Analyst, Senior Case Work, Charity Worker, Admin and Marketing Officer, Merchandiser, Account Executive, Support Officer, Recruitment Consultant, Freud Investigating Officer, Administrative Staff, Analyst, Junior Estate Agent, Select manager, QA Tester

English (PGT) - Assistant Editor, Joint Head of Creative Advertising, Freelance Writer, Content Producer, BBC News & Current Affairs Runner, Communications Intern, Primary School Teacher, Graduate Development Programme, Construction Arbitrator, University lecturer

English (PGR) – Archivist, Teacher of English Language and Study Skills, University Tutor, Document Checker, Workflow Coordinator, Resident Assistant Professor, Trainee European Commission, Teacher of English, Teaching Assistant, China Regional Officer, Lecturer in Communication Studies and Applied Linguistics

As with all programmes at all universities, some graduates have not gone into graduate level work. Recent roles have included: Retail Assistant, Food Service and Customer Advisor.

There can be many reasons to explain this including saving for further study, getting relevant work experience, wanting to take some time-out, but often it is due to a lack of career planning prior to graduating. Reviewing these careers resources and taking advantage of opportunities to Go Further will help to ensure that you fulfil your career potential. If you wish to book an appointment to discuss your options and plan your career you can do this through MyFuture.

Accountancy, Banking and Finance

This broad sector covers a range of different roles who invite applications from different disciplines.  A number of large professional services firms offer a range of graduate opportunities including Management Consultancy and Accountancy.  These firms are interested in English graduates due to their analytical, research and communication skills. Interested students are recommended to find opportunities to build their commercial awareness and business understanding.

  • Chartered Accountant - offers financial advice, audit accounts and provide trustworthy information about financial records.
  • Chartered Management Accountant - prepares, develops and analyses key financial information, combines accounting skills with business management skills.
  • Forensic Accountant - use your data analysis skills to investigate financial discrepancies and inaccuracies such as fraudulent activity, financial misrepresentation or misconduct and disputes. 
  • Insurance Account Manager - promote and develop company's insurance products to those who will be directly selling them, such as brokers and independent financial advisers (IFAs).
  • Retail Banker – graduate schemes exist in many high street banks and are open to any discipline.

Business, Consulting and Management

  • Recruitment consultants - attract job candidates and match them to temporary or permanent positions with client companies, strong people and interpersonal skills required.
  • Public affairs consultants – also called lobbyists, use understanding of political system to offer political and public policy advice to their clients.
  • Project Manager – responsible for delivering projects on time and in budget, by planning and organising resources and people.
  • Office Manager - organise all of the administrative activities that facilitate the smooth running of an office, needed in most sectors.
  • Management Consultant - help organisations to solve issues, create value, maximise growth and improve business performance. Analytical skills and problem solving abilities important.
  • Health Service Manager - monitors strategic, financial and day-to-day running of hospital, general practitioner (GP) or community health services.  The NHS has a graduate management training scheme open to any discipline.
  • Civil Service Fast Streamer - Working with and for central government, graduates are exposed to a range of contrasting placements or postings in government departments and agencies.  Civil Service Fast Stream information and applications available for all disciplines.

There are lots of opportunities to gain relevant experience in these areas while you are a student:

  • Some organisations (e.g. PwC) run 2 day Talent Academies for Level 1 students (application deadlines are often in Semester 1)
  • There are lots of summer internship opportunities for Level 2 students (application deadlines are often in Semester 1)
  • Graduate schemes in this area are usually open to graduates of any degree discipline.

Any additional opportunities to develop your business/commercial awareness such as the City Scholarship Programme, the London Finance Study Tour, Stock Market Challenge and Insight into Management would be beneficial. Keep an eye on MyFuture for details.

Charity and Voluntary Work

This sector encompasses a variety of roles as detailed in Prospects: Charity and Voluntary Work

Experience is key in this sector so undertake some voluntary work while at university; for local opportunities Volunteernow is a really good resource. Organisations that offer graduate schemes in this sector include Cancer Research UK, Charity Works, Wellcome, Sanctuary Group and IntoUniversity.  

  • Advice Worker – helping people with issues including debt, employment, housing, welfare and education.
  • Community Development Worker - often acts as a link between communities and a range of other local authority and voluntary sector providers, such as the police, social workers and teachers.
  • International Aid/Development Worker – working on short and long tern projects in a wide variety of areas, focusing on meeting the needs of people and communities in the developing world. 
  • Youth worker – working with young people aged between 11 and 25 in a variety of settings including colleges, faith-based groups, schools and youth centres.

Civil Service and Public Sector Roles

  • Civil Service Administrator - contribute to the delivery of services through duties such as research, compiling reports, frontline work with the public, working on policy documents.
  • Civil Service Fast Streamer - Working with and for central government, graduates are exposed to a range of contrasting placements or postings in government departments and agencies.  Civil Service Fast Stream information and applications available for all disciplines. 
  • Diplomatic Services Operational Officer - works within the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) to protect and promote UK interests throughout the world in a variety of ways.
  • Education Administrator - organise and manage the administration, support systems and activities that keep an educational institution running smoothly.
  • Government Social Research Officer - provide research input for the analysis required to develop, implement, review and evaluate new and existing government policies 
  • Intelligence Analyst -involved in the acquisition, evaluation, analysis and assessment of secret intelligence. Intelligence analysts work primarily for the UK's three intelligence and security agencies and are also employed by the armed forces and the police. Employed in a variety of operational roles by the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), Secret Intelligence Service (MI6), Security Service (MI5).
  • Local Government Officer - responsible for the development and execution of council policies and procedures, as well as ensuring that local services are delivered effectively.
  • Politicians' assistant - provide administrative support to elected politicians. They help with secretarial tasks, research and publicity.

Information, Research and Aanlysis

If you are interested in contributing to the body of knowledge about your subject, a career in research is worth considering. Research Councils UK have a collection of case studies of researchers which give an insight into life as a researcher and the different career paths some researchers take. An Academic Career provides more information about this career route. A postgraduate qualification (most often a PhD) is likely to be required.  Jobs and some PhD studentships can be found on Jobs.ac.uk. More PhD opportunities can be found on findaphd.com.

  • Social researcher - plan, design, conduct, manage and report on social research projects.
  • Academic Librarian - manage, organise, evaluate and disseminate information, providing support to members of an academic community including students, researchers and lecturing staff.
  • Archivist - acquire, manage and maintain documents and other materials that have historical importance for individuals, organisations and nations.
  • Government Social Research Officer - provide research input for the analysis required to develop, implement, review and evaluate new and existing government policies.
  • Information Officer - good IT and research skills and enjoy helping people.

Museum/Heritage Roles

Roles in this sector are difficult to secure and those that do come along attract a lot of applicants. The key is to build as much relevant voluntary experience as possible, network and proactively seek out opportunities. Further study is usually required for many of the specialist job roles in this sector which include Archivist, Curator and Conservator. The Museum Jobs website will give you an idea of the type of job roles within the sector and qualifications and experience required. For local opportunities keep an eye on the Northern Ireland Museums Council

  • Museum education officer - deliver programmes of learning and participation, work both within galleries and museums and also in a community context.
  • Museum/Gallery Curator - manages collections of artefacts or works of art. This includes dealing with the acquisition, care and display of items with the aim of informing and educating the public.
  • Museum/Gallery Exhibitions Officer - responsible for planning, developing, organising, marketing, administering, producing, buying/sourcing and maintaining individual permanent or travelling exhibitions.

Hospitality and Events Management

  • Conference Centre Manager - day-to-day management of a conference centre, including budgets, staff and centre services. 
  • Event Organiser – planning a range events, from the planning stage, right through to running the actual day itself and the post-event evaluation.

Purchasing, Logistics and Supply Chain

The Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply (CIPS) have some information about graduate careers in this area.

There are a number of graduate schemes in this area with employers such as Marks and Spencer and other larger retailers but student placements and internships may be harder to find. Those that are available will be advertised on the main graduate websites. For Fashion buying, employers tend to look for a Fashion-related degree.

  • Purchasing Manager - buying the best quality equipment, goods and services, at the most competitive prices, to enable a company or organisation to operate.
  • Retail Buyer - responsible for planning and selecting a range of products to sell in retail outlets.
  • Logistics and Distribution Manager - organise the storage and distribution of goods, involved in transportation, stock control, warehousing and monitoring the flow of goods.
  • Passenger Transport Manager - plans, coordinates and manages passenger transport operations, which cover bus, train, tram, light rail, air, ship and ferry services.

Publishing

Training takes place mainly on the job although larger publishers may have structured training programmes for new entrants or may commission customised training. For courses which can be studied online throughout the year take a look at Publishing Training Centre. Training and advice for careers in publishing is available from the Professional Publishers Association (PPA).

  • Publishing copy-editor/proofreader - ensure material is clear and consistent, complete and credible, and that text is well written, grammatically correct and accessible.
  • Print production planner - controls, organises and monitors the flow of printed materials in a printing company.
  • Commissioning editor - identify books or media products to publish in order to build up a publisher's list. They commission work by finding authors or responding to book proposals.
  • Editorial assistant - provides support in all stages of the publication of books, journals, magazines, online material and publicity materials.

Marketing, Advertising and PR

A fast paced and competitive sector which needs creative, organised and innovative people.

  • Advertising Account Executives - work within advertising or multi-service agencies, acting as a link between clients and the agency.
  • Advertising Copywriters - work alongside an art director within the creative department of an advertising, media or full-service agency. This may include creating slogans, catchphrases, messages and straplines for printed adverts and leaflets.
  • Digital Marketer - involved in developing an organisation's multi-channel communication strategies.
  • Marketing Executive - involved in developing marketing campaigns to promote a product, service or idea.
  • Public Relations (PR) Officer - managing reputation, creative communicators who thrive on the demands of client reputation management.

Media

A good way to get relevant and practical experience in this area is through the MEDIA (Media Employability Development In Action) Programme, available to AHSS students in first and second year.  The Gown and The Tab are also opportunities to write and be published.

Broadcast Journalist - research, investigate and present news and current affairs content for television, radio and the internet.

Broadcast Presenter - the public face, or voice, of programmes broadcast on television, radio and the internet.

Commissioning Editor - identify books or media products to publish in order to build up a publisher's list, commission work by finding authors or responding to book proposals, rather like that of a buyer.

Editorial Assistant - requires excellent grammar and communication skills and a keen interest in publishing.

Lexicographer - write, compile and edit dictionaries for both print and online publication. These include English for native speakers, English for learners of English, technical, e.g. law and bilingual, for native speakers or learners of English.

Magazine Features Editor - responsible for the content and quality of their publication and ensures that stories are engaging and informative.

Media Planner - identify which media platforms would best advertise a client's brand or product. They work within advertising agencies or media planning and buying agencies.

Newspaper Journalist - research and write stories for national, regional and local press. On smaller newspapers journalists have to multitask; they may work on layout, photography and sub-editing as well as write stories.

Programme Researcher - provides support to the producer and production team, including contribute ideas for programmes, source contacts and contributors, collect, verify and prepare information for film, television and radio productions.

Writer - you will need to be creative, organised and disciplined and possess excellent research skills along with a passion for the written word.

Teaching

In Schools: A recognised teaching qualification is essential to find work in this area. The Department of Education Northern Ireland has general details about Initial Teacher Education (which includes the PGCE). The Universities and Colleges offering the training also have information on their websites which include how to apply and the closing dates e.g. Queen’s Initial Teacher Education (PGCE) information.

Get Into Teaching offers support for graduates wanting to teach science subjects in GB and offers a fully funded subject knowledge enhancement course (SKE) before starting your training if you want to specialise.

PGCE courses are competitive to get into so interested students are recommended to: 

  • Gain experience of working with young people of the age group you hope to teach – usually gained through voluntary work.
  • Get an insight into what work as a teacher is like by trying to arrange to speak to a teacher to ask them about their job, and/or try to get some classroom observation experience. You may also be able to arrange visits through personal contacts or with schools where they were once a pupil. It may be possible to arrange with a local school via a speculative application.
  • Keep up-to-date with what’s happening in Education via the Times Education Supplement and the Guardian’s Education section.
  • Apply early.
  • These interview tips are useful when preparing for the course interview.

The Teach First Leadership Development Programme recruits high achieving graduates to work as teachers in some of the most disadvantaged schools in England and Wales.  Its 2 year programme combines this work with business skills training, internship and mentoring opportunities. At the end of the programme around 50% stay in the teaching profession in a leadership position, the other 50% are readily employed in a variety of business areas.

The JET (Japan Exchange and Teaching) Programme is an official and prestigious Japanese government scheme that sends graduates to Japan in order to promote international understanding at grass-roots level and to improve foreign language teaching in schools. Although participants teach English to school pupils, applicants for the programme can come from any degree discipline providing they hold a full UK passport.  It is a tough application process that begins in the October preceding the departure the following summer.

The TET (Teach English in Thailand) programme offers students and recent graduates a 9 week placement opportunity as a Teaching Assistant in Thailand.

In Colleges: Further Education Colleges will sometimes hire people to teach without them having teaching qualifications. These teachers will often be expected to work towards a teaching qualification and will be expected to have other relevant (vocational) qualifications and experience to offer. Colleges list job vacancies on their own websites. You can find a list of colleges on the Department of Education Northern Ireland website.

In Higher Education: University lecturers will normally be expected to have or be working towards a PhD. An Academic Career provides more information about this career route. Jobs and some PhD studentships can be found on Jobs.ac.uk. More PhD opportunities can be found on findaphd.com.

General Graduate Options

Approximately 50% of graduate vacancies are open graduates of any subject. Some may require some additional, specialist, post-graduate training but some do not. The list is extensive but includes fields as diverse as accountancy, IT, housing management and recruitment consultancy.  

How do I make a decision?

here isn’t one right way to make a career decision, but there are a few things worth doing and worth considering in order to make an informed choice:

  1. Don’t think you have to choose just one option – instead a shortlist of preferred options can be a useful strategy. Transferable skills can be gained from any type of work experience, so even if your work experience relates to one area, that won’t restrict you from moving into a different area.
  2. Think about what is important to you and look for evidence of those things when exploring your options e.g. if it is a priority for you to stay in Northern Ireland, look at the Relevant Job Websites for career areas that interest you to see how many job adverts you can find for that type of work here.
  3. The above are just a few of the options related to your degree area. It isn’t a comprehensive list.  Spend some time exploring the  Relevant Job Websites to find other job titles and areas.
  4. Look at LinkedIn’s alumni tool (Topic 5 on the LinkedIn for students website) to see the career paths of alumni on LinkedIn.
  5. Speak to company representatives at on campus events (including fairs and employer presentations). Keep an eye on MyFuture for these opportunities.
  6. Need more information – approach any contacts you have, or speculatively approach companies, to set-up an information interview.
  7. If you’ve managed to successfully make use of an information interview, you could ask for a brief period of work-shadowing, i.e. observing someone while they work.  As little as a few hours of work-shadowing can give you a real insight into a job and company, and it is often easier for a company to agree to this than it would be to agree to a period of work experience.
  8. Still can’t decide? Sometimes you can only truly get a feel for whether a certain job is for you by trying it out.  Short-term work experience for students is a great method for trying-out different jobs and companies - see "What can I do to Go Further?" to find relevant opportunities.  If you are a graduate, remember, even a permanent job isn’t necessarily a job for life!

If you’d like to discuss any of this with a Careers Consultant please book an appointment through MyFuture.