Liz graduated in 2010 with a degree in French Studies. She now works as a freelance photographer in London, and editor of Oh Comely magazine.
Why did you choose to study at Birmingham?
"There were quite a few factors that drew me to Birmingham - the campus is beautiful and felt very safe. At the time, I was also doing a lot of athletics, so Birmingham’s sporting prowess was important to me. The French department was also very welcoming and friendly - even when I arrived to the open day a month early!"
What was the best thing about your degree?
"I’d say my year abroad was probably the highlight of my course – it was such a great opportunity! I chose to live in Grenoble in France, and it was such a great experience! I learnt to snowboard and really fell into the French style of living. If I had to give any advice for students going to study abroad it would be to break out of the “Erasmus” courses. I took a course at the Political Science Institute in Grenoble and it was so much more insightful – and the pace of French was much harder!
"The breadth of the course was also great for me. I really enjoyed being able to study a mixture of language, film, politics and translation. The cinema modules were exceptional, particularly the Avant-Garde module. It allowed me to explore subjects in a more creative way than the other modules perhaps allowed - it was really playful."
How did your studies at Birmingham help to prepare you for the working world?
"It’s a tough thing to pinpoint as I now work in the creative industries, but the one thing that translates directly was learning to snowboard on my year abroad, which led to me getting an internship at an extreme sports magazine the summer after I graduated!”
"More broadly, I think the ability to research a subject thoroughly and then think around it is the skill I use most frequently. For example, if I’m given a brief to shoot a ballet dancer, I have to go away and research the dancer and ballet more widely, and then interpret my findings in a way that’s interesting and relevant.
"Also, my involvement in the student paper gave me good experience of what it was like working to very tight deadlines in a way that’s very different to course deadlines. A lot of my friends who work in the media worked on their university papers also, and agree that the experience in invaluable."
What is your current role, and what is the best thing about it?
"I work primarily as a freelance photographer in London, but I’m also the Lifestyle Editor at Oh Comely magazine, which is an alternative women’s lifestyle magazine, through which I’ve met and photographed directors, actresses, oysterwomen, and our readers as well as doing a bit of writing now and then. Outside my work at Oh Comely I have a fairly mixed client base from commercial brands like Jigsaw and other magazines such as Cyclist.
"Working freelance, you meet so many people, which is what I enjoy the most. Photography also grants you this privileged position that takes you into places and allows you to interact with people in a way that you wouldn’t necessarily usually be able to. It’s fascinating."
What advice do you have for prospective students thinking of studying at Birmingham?
"Get involved in societies and sports! Birmingham has so many extra-curricular activities to offer and they’re great for making friends who you possibly wouldn’t otherwise meet. In second year, I was the president of the photographic society, chief photographer for the paper, training with the athletics club and playing capoeira – I made some great friends and have wonderful memories of that year.
“And for anyone looking to get into journalism or publishing, I can’t recommend internships highly enough. I interned at a magazine called HUCK shortly after graduating, because during the previous summer I had worked as a picture researcher for a car and motorcycle magazine, and the editor there suggested I get in touch with HUCK for a placement. Happily they took me on for a month! As with most industries, getting ahead relies on who you know and an internship – used to its full potential – kick-starts that."