English Literature students and alumni recently met for a chance to discuss answers to the perpetual question: what happens after university?
The alumni event “What’s Next?: Paths from English Literature” included a lineup of eight former students, diverse both in terms of their graduation years, ranging from 1976 to 2011, and career paths. The wide variety of careers that these graduates have pursued – from media advertisement and journalism to sustainable environmental development, becoming a Member of the Scottish Parliament or an author – points to the array of professions that are attainable with an English Literature degree.
Dr. Vassiliki Kolocotroni, head of the English Literature department, raised an all too familiar concern in her introductory welcome. Kolocotroni stressed that Literature students are often met with a presumption that their degrees are “general” or “vague”. This evening proved that the claim stands without merit. As each alumnus reiterated, the skills that students of English Literature, and degrees in Arts more generally, excel in are invaluable and widely applicable.
After a short introduction, the evening proceeded with “speed-dating”, as the alumni moved between tables and conversed with the attendees. This interactive and personal set-up gave students the opportunity to ask questions and get to know the alumni one by one.
Predominantly attended by third and fourth year students, the evening was a welcomed reminder that they are not the only ones who struggle with procrastination, not knowing what to do after graduation, or perhaps knowing what the goal is but not knowing how to get there.
Throughout the evening the discussion focused on the range of potential career options available and the demanding road that lies ahead. Seeing the success of people who once faced similar apprehension of post-graduation life was reassuring to those in attendance. The evening’s conversations were filled with encouragements to stay passionate, to be proactive, and to never lose sight of the purpose in mind.