Where are you now?
I work for a company called Four Colman Getty - we're a PR agency specialising in the cultural sector. This sounds a bit broad, and it is, but mostly our clients come from publishing, arts prize-giving, museums and festivals. Some high-profile examples include The Man Booker Prize, Cheltenham Literature Festival, Foyles (the bookshop) and London Art Fair.
The bread and butter of my job is producing and proofing press releases designed to convince journalists that a client of ours is interesting enough to warrant writing about. This means I spend most of my time either writing copy or pitching stories to journalists - predominantly arts correspondents at the national papers. I'm also involved, to a lesser degree, in event management work, so this week I was at the Man Booker Prize winner ceremony at the Guildhall, organising journalists/photographers and handling enquiries.
How did you get there?
My degree was a huge help. It's no coincidence that almost everyone in my team has a background in the arts. I suppose a degree of this nature is almost an unofficial pre-requisite for my job. It is rare that you combine both the knowledge accumulated and skills developed through the course of a degree in your job. In my case I rely on my ability to construct an argument and write well, in conjunction with my acquired knowledge base of literature and its many nuances.
In terms of extracurricular activities, being part of the editorial team at The Gown has been invaluable. Not only did it help develop my writing style, but I learned to meet tight deadlines - a skill which is valued in any industry.
Making use of Careers, Employability and Skills at Queen’s
I took part in the Brussels Study tour: Travelling to Brussels to network with professionals in various fields prompted me to consider my developing skills in a much broader sense, to think about their potential practical applications and how I could make the connection between my profile and a hypothetical job clear to employers. I quickly realised that the link between study and work is not always obvious, but that competencies acquired through studying the humanities are essential in landing your ideal job. Being able to interrogate your subject, make sense of complex texts and construct a coherent message are all vital in the workplace. This was what I learned from parliamentary assistants and policy officers in Brussels, and whilst I have not chosen to work there, the same has proved true in communications.
Advice for current Queen's students
For a job in communications, or related fields like advertising and marketing, try to find an extracurricular activity or internship which makes you responsible for the propagation of some kind of message. This could be student journalism, or campaigning for a society. All these fields are about messaging, and fortunately there are many outlets for this while at university.
On a more personal level, go abroad if you can. I studied in Canada in my second year and it was the best decision I ever made.