Alumni profiles in American and Canadian Studies

Emily Thomson, BA American and Canadian Studies and History 2012

Emily Thomson graduated with a degree in History and American Studies in 2012. She has worked for the BBC in various roles and for the University of Birmingham Library Services. She is just about to embark on a new career with the Civil Service Fast Stream in the Highways Agency.

Emily speaks fondly of her degree studies, “The biggest stand-out aspect was definitely the part of my degree where I spent a year at the University of Iowa. The change of environment helped me grow academically and the challenges of moving abroad helped me to grow in confidence and independence. I did find it difficult at times but I really do look back on it as a life changing experience.”

Emily tells us of her transition from voluntary work to her new up-coming job in the civil service: “In my final year, I began volunteering with a charity called CSV. They run an Action Network that work in partnership with BBC Local Radio, and I became a regular visitor to BBC WM. When I graduated, I began working part-time on an Action Network campaign called “The Professionals”. I currently work on the BBC WM Breakfast Show 5 days a week, as a Team Assistant for the BBC English Regions Broadcast Support Centre, and work evening and weekend shifts in a supervisory role as a Senior Library Support Assistant. It is tiring, but I know how much I have developed as an employee even within the 18 months since graduating. I made the decision to allow myself as many different opportunities as possible, and am now incredibly excited to start a full-time job with the Civil Service in a few weeks’ time!

Her advice to current students at the University is: “Start thinking about your career early. I did very few extra-curricular activities in my first couple of years of university, and that definitely put me at a disadvantage. I think volunteering somewhere where you are in a working environment, or have responsibilities to answer to allows you to develop the confidence you need.”

Marina Vear, BA English Literature and American and Canadian Studies, 2007

Marina graduated in 2007 with a BA (Hons) in English Literature and American and Canadian Studies. She currently works for STUDIOCANAL as a Film Publicist.

“My American and Canadian Studies degree taught me how to multi-task across a range of different subjects. Doing such diverse modules has been particularly helpful in an industry where I am working on films across a variety of different genres at any given time.

I enjoy working with filmmakers and establishing relationships with them throughout the campaign process. It is incredibly rewarding to follow a film's journey from the early stages, be it film festival premieres or production itself, to release and in some cases beyond that through to the awards season. It is a demanding job that takes up a lot of time but being part of a vibrant industry is something to be proud of.

I get to work with a lot of very talented filmmakers and actors and work at a company that is committed to bringing intelligent films to UK audiences. I have always loved film, something that I was really able to expand with my ACS degree, so I enjoy now being paid to do it!”

Emma Donnan, BA English and American Studies, 2001

Emma graduated in 2001 with a BA in English and American Studies. She is now the Assistant Editor of Star Magazine and is a ghost-writer of celebrity books.

“American Studies has always been a great conversation starter. My degree helped me learn to work to deadlines, something that’s crucial in my line of work.

I recall having a brilliant range of choices when it came to choosing modules. I studied the CIA, American film, and chose my favourite author for one module.

My advice to current students would be to make really good use of their spare time – sign up for the student radio or newspaper, anything at all. Every extra experience you have will count for something in the future.

After university I joined a graduate training scheme at a local newspaper, the Uxbridge Gazette. I moved on to writing gossip columns for national newspapers, including the People and the News of the World. I decided to make the move to gossip / celebrity magazines and am now Assistant Editor at Star Magazine.

The best part of my job is that no two days are the same. One minute I could be interviewing one of my favourite celebrities, the next I could be on my way to an awards ceremony somewhere in Europe. It’s ever-changing, which makes my job exciting and fulfilling.”