To be, or not to be?

Alice Friel, an English literature student at the University of Bristol, reflects on her two-week internship at Magenta.

Whenever I tell people that I’m studying towards a degree in English literature, I dread the typical response of “Do you want to be an English teacher?”. I find this frustrating because teaching is something I’ve never been interested in, but I am aware that the career pathways open to an English Literature graduate are a little murkier than their medicine or engineering equivalents.

Even so, the University of Bristol, where I study, states that only 12.7% of English Literature graduates go into careers in education. The rest go on to work in a huge variety of sectors including media (9.9%), publishing & printing (9.9%) and even IT (7%). This is why I thought the summer between second and third year would be a great opportunity to explore my options. PR caught my attention, so I applied for a two-week internship at Magenta.

Before coming here I was nervous that I’d be at a disadvantage as a non-PR student. I questioned how much help my literature background would be. But I was quickly reassured by the Magenta team that many of the skills I’ve learnt on my course could be applied to my work here. I’ve been assigned many different tasks, all challenging and interesting, ranging from data analysis to research and much more. One thing that surprised me was how much writing is involved in PR work. Writing is something I’ve always enjoyed. It’s one of the reasons I decided to study English Literature. So, it’s been reassuring to find that PR is a career option that would allow me to pursue this. It’s been really insightful to read press releases and blog pieces by the Magenta team. They’ve helped me begin to understand the standard of professional writing that’s expected.

My two weeks here also introduced me to many different styles of writing. Lots of Magenta’s PR work has to be concise and snappy –  something that I’m not used to. There’s less room for the same kind of depth in literature essays. However, the team helped me adapt to this style by giving me excellent guidance, and I put it into practice by drafting tweets for clients and news pieces for a magazine supplement. Even though the skills I have as a literature student have given me a starting block, it was really great to dip my toes into a completely new kind of writing.

I’m very grateful to the amazing team at Magenta for being so accommodating and for giving me the opportunity to learn so much. This experience has shown me that my degree will open many doors once I graduate and, above all, has given me the confidence to pursue those ‘murkier’ career paths.

Ben Keeley