Landing a Creative Career with a languages degree

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Alumna Hannah Brownlow (MA 2011) came to St Andrews in 2007 with a range of ideas in her head as to what career path would follow her degree. Four years later she left with an entirely different plan. Here, Hannah tells her story of how her St Andrews degree led her into a career in a world of creativity!

What does a creative career look like? Maybe working with visuals, even a bit of design?How about writing content, delivering it, presenting it? Maybe a bit of travel, and building relationships with people – clients, colleagues, and the like?

In 2007 I headed north of the border to study English Literature at St Andrews.

In 2011 I graduated with my MA Hons in single honours Italian (who’s not had a last-minute change of heart, right?).

In fact it was while I was out in Italy on my year abroad that I had an epiphany. I realised I didn’t want to go into a career that used my language per se, but actually used the skills I was learning. I’d got really involved in student radio at the University of Verona, and we had a couple of hundred podcast subscribers who wanted to get involved with our creative and madcap approach to looking at living abroad as a student.

I also realised that travelling, and meeting and getting to know different people from different cultures was something that I absolutely loved.

But coming back to the Bubble in fourth year, I was faced with a dilemma. I knew I didn’t want to follow one of the ‘traditional’ career routes for a languages graduate (teaching, translating, and the like). What I wanted to do was something creative, that broadened my horizons, and harnessed the skills I was learning along the way (both in the lecture theatre, and out of it).

But where do you go to find a job that gives you all of that, and is looking for a languages graduate?

Well readers, it took me a while to work that out. I spent a long time looking. (And I do mean a long time.) After a short stint working as a content developer for an art instruction website, I finally found it.

I am now a Managing Consultant for a presentation and eLearning delivery specialist company called BrightCarbon. And yes, that list at the beginning – it has all of those things. And more.

So how did I do it? How did I land the holy grail of creative jobs with my languages degree?

Here are three things I’ve learnt along the way that can help you target the right creative opportunities, so that, like me, you can find a job where you can use your skills to best effect:

Communication, communication, communication: what does a languages degree help you most to do well? Communicate. Look for creative jobs that need effective communicators, because that’s what you excel at as a language graduate. I started as a Communication Consultant at BrightCarbon, where my day job was turning words into effective visual sequences. I needed lashings of creativity, and – most importantly – communication skills.

Small and innovative: however creative you want to be, if you’re in a huge corporation, you’re going to be limited by bureaucracy, and corporate structure. Look for a small – but growing – company. Since joining BrightCarbon, the company has tripled in size and diversified into new services. It’s an exciting journey to be part of.

Think outside the box: I had aspirations of working in television. And radio. And maybe film too. But now I work in PowerPoint. Literally. But just because it’s not what I expected to do doesn’t mean it’s not a fulfilling career choice. Don’t restrict yourself into thinking there’s only one path for you. Find a job that suits your skills and personality, not necessarily what you think you want to do.

Go forth, be creative, and find that dream job.

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If you are interested in learning more about a career like Hannah’s, you can visit the BrightCarbon careers page.

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