It’s time for me to share another Uni Life interview with you. The purpose behind this interview series is to give prospective and current students an insight into life at university, what it takes to get there and how to survive. I hope that these interviews will give you a chance to learn from current and recently graduated students about the courses you’re interested in.
Today’s interview is with Sophie, an English Literature with Creative Writing student at the University of Birmingham.
What course are you studying at university?
English Literature with Creative Writing at the University of Birmingham.
Did you have to study specific subjects at college to get onto the course?
I had to study and achieve an A grade in English Literature. Aside from that I don’t think there were other requirements. I took subjects that interested me. My other two A levels were in Psychology and History.
How did you know this was the right course for you?
I just knew! I originally looked at studying straight English Literature or combined English Lit and Lang. When I went to the open day at Birmingham, I got talking to one of the students who did English with Creative Writing and she sold it to me. I’ve always been very creative and have always written stories. It appealed to me because it added something a little extra to a plain English degree that made me (hopefully!) more appealing to employers.
What do you enjoy most about your course?
I love the freedom that I have with the creative writing side compared to the stricter, academic literature side. My dissertation is a creative writing project, so I have written a short story. I am so proud of myself for producing something I’ve truly crafted over the past nine months. (That sounds like it’s my baby … but it really is!)
What keeps you motivated?
My modules have actually been really interesting this year, so I’ve really been motivated by my interest in those. I took a module in Transhumanism which has been so interesting. My tutor for that was really motivating and made us question everything. I’m also motivated because I want to do well. I’ve always been quite good at doing my work on time!
What do you find most challenging about your course?
The unstructured time and amount of reading. In my third year, I’ve only have six contact hours a week, which leaves me with another thirty. I’ve had to be really strict on myself to actually use this time to do the reading for the lectures and keep my dissertation ticking over. There are some days where I’ve admittedly done nothing but I do feel like I haven’t stopped working this year!
Are internships easy to come by in your field?
They are if you look hard enough. With any arts subject, you have to have experience to get experience to get a job, so if you know someone that works in a field you’re interested in, ask them if you can spend a week or two with them. I’m very lucky at Birmingham to have a really incredible careers network who have helped me refine my CV, write personal statements and let me know about internship vacancies.
Please tell us about an internship that you’ve gained something positive from.
I think there’s something positive to be gained from all internships, even if that is the realisation that you don’t actually want to work in that field anymore! I worked at a PR agency who also had their own magazine over the summer last year. I loved it because it affirmed to me that I do want to work in an industry where I use my social media and writing skills.
Do you have any career plans in mind for when you’ve graduated?
I’d like to ideally have a job in PR, social media or editorial. Anything in those areas. I’m still applying for lots of things to keep all doors open.
What do you wish you knew about university life before you started?
That there are times when all you want to do is curl up in a ball and call home because you’re so stressed. That’s happened to me at least twice this year! However I think all aspects of life can be like that sometimes. University is so great because there’s always going to be someone to talk to you and support you, whether that’s a parent, boyfriend or housemate.
What advice would you offer to prospective English students?
Get experience and ignore the employment statistics. Arts subjects get a horrendous amount of criticism for not being employable, but I think we’re some of the most well-rounded kids out there. I’ve learnt so many skills I can apply to so many jobs and I’ve learnt that everything you learn on your course can be put into practise somewhere. Employers love experience and it gives you something to talk about in interviews, so go out and get it. I’ve had a few interviews and they focussed on my blog a lot, which meant I hadn’t been doing it in vain!
What do you do in your spare time?
I blog (obviously)! I taught contemporary dance from September til March for the dance society. I also edit the food section for the university newspaper, Redbrick. I read a lot, cook a lot, watch Disney films and do yoga in my room. I like to be a busy bee!!
Finally, what is your go to meal after a busy day of lectures?
I love a good chilli. Chilli con carne with pasta and a load of cheese. Or a sausage casserole. I love one pan meals that are hearty and remind me of my Mum’s cooking.
I’d like to say a big thank you to Sophie for taking time out of her busy schedule for Uni Life. I wish her lots of luck in her degree and future career. You can find Sophie on her blog, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest.