By Chrissie Lewis, Junior Account Executive
It’s a question every graduate in Literature, philosophy or history dreads, “So what are you going to do with that?”. This question has plagued me as a literature student for the past three years, and as a recent graduate, now working as a Junior Account executive at MK, I feel it’s a question I am well placed to answer.
On a basic level, literature arms you with the research and analytical skills that are essential in any career choice. (Moreover, the ability to communicate and be understood is another skill set that a literature degree presents a graduate with.)
But more specifically, a literature degree in PR allows one to understand from varying perspectives. The nature of PR is that it is bespoke, each client is entirely unique and the ability to comprehend from a range of viewpoints begins to come into its own when tailoring a client plan.
However, the other crucial factor is that focus on the public, in public relations, and the demand for a PR professional to be aware of the diversity of the communities around them. A literature degree involves novels, plays and prose which act as a synopsis of an individual’s experiences and mind set. If (like myself) you are reading four novels a week, you quickly recognise hundreds of minds that work in dissimilar ways to your own, which comes in handy when you work with a target audience of an entirely different generation to yourself.
To look at the wider picture, a degree shows you can work to a certain standard, but it is my belief that it is the set of experiences that University presents and how you utilise these that allow you to progress into the forthcoming professional world waiting for you. University offered me the role of senior supervisor of the Union Store, managing a team of people my own age, who I occasionally knew more about than I wanted to (or, I’m sure they wanted me to). In three years, my communication skills, time management, and customer service improved no end, allowing me to transfer these skills into a range of job specifications.
Moreover, my love for sport led me to be one of those really irritating, ‘I love my club’, characters at University. My role as Vice President of the Netball club required me to create a pitch and present a speech in a lecture theatre. But the role also demanded high levels of organisation and the recognition of how to work effectively within a team.
I think the most crucial lesson that I learnt from sports at university, is that if looming deadlines or stress at work is getting to you, a seriously intense sports session can solve most problems. Taking a role of responsibility at a sports club provided me with the ability to deal with stress, alongside those essential people skills for a professional environment.
University handed me opportunities to find out what I was passionate about. Combining passion with a willingness to work, learn and listen I was equipped with the necessary skills for a range of professions.
The belief that X degree will entitle you to X job, may be the reason that so many graduates find themselves feeling slightly disgruntled after three years of convincing themselves that they are guaranteed a job in their chosen subject. Now, instead of letting a question such as ‘what are you going to do with a literature degree’ intimate me, I take the opportunity to define a degree as three years of academia, but more importantly, the opportunity to learn, experience and make mistakes, before entering into a professional workplace. My career advice for anyone considering University: rather than let a degree define you, allow yourself to define your degree. There is a wealth of experience available at University, and it’s yours for the taking if you let yourself.