Graduate stories: Paige Tracey
Hi, my name is Paige Tracey and I graduated from Birmingham in July 2018 with a First-Class Honours degree in Liberal Arts and Sciences (LANS) with a Philosophy major.
When I first began my LANS degree I had planned to do an English Literature major. After the first year I discovered that English at university was completely different to A Level, and I didn’t really have much of a passion for deciphering metaphors after all! Luckily, I had by chance taken a 10-credit module in Ancient Philosophy because some of my original module choices clashed. I discovered I had a real passion for Philosophy, a subject which I had never studied prior to starting university. The LANS programme gave me the freedom to study more first year Philosophy modules in my second year, which ultimately allowed me to build a major in the subject. If I hadn’t taken this programme, I never would have considered that Philosophy was a subject I wanted to study at degree level and furthermore, that it’s a subject I’m actually really good at! For that flexibility and the ability to try new things alone, I am glad I chose to study Liberal Arts at Birmingham.
Another reason I am really glad that I took this course at Birmingham is the opportunity the degree gave me to take a year abroad in third year. I studied at University College Dublin (UCD) in Ireland and through the friendships I made with fellow international students, I had some fantastic holidays in the Netherlands and Germany while I was there. I don’t think I would have considered taking a year abroad if it hadn’t been an opportunity built into the LANS programme. It pushed me out of my comfort zone and gave me the opportunity to build some life-long friendships that I never would have made otherwise, and to discover a city and country that I now strongly feel is my second home!
Studying at UCD gave me the time to take enough Philosophy modules to create a major in the subject. Even though prior to Ireland I hadn’t studied the same amount as single-honours Philosophy students, by the end of the year I was more than up to speed. I was also able to study subjects I wouldn’t have been able to had I not gone to UCD. A Celtic Studies module I took called “Ireland Uncovered” was super informative and interesting and gave me an even greater appreciation for the country I was now living in. I would always recommend taking a module linked to the destination of study on your year abroad. It once again shows your flexibility and interest in studying things that are completely unique!
Aside from the year abroad being a great opportunity in and of itself, I believe another great plus is how it gave me extra time at university to study, mature and reflect further on what I wanted to do when I graduated. The traditional three-year course flies by so quickly and I’m glad LANS allowed me more time before I entered the world of work. I strongly believe one of the main reasons I achieved a First is that I had more time to practise my Philosophy writing skills and to cover more ground in the subject. I don’t think my experience is a unique one because the vast majority of my fellow LANS cohort also achieved a First in their degree! Very few other courses allow you that freedom and time and though I was initially hesitant about the year abroad aspect when I signed up to the course, it ended up to be one of the most positive things about my degree.
Since graduating, I have started a job called “Campaign Manager” at an on-campus marketing agency in Birmingham. I’m responsible for managing marketing campaigns on university campuses nationwide, including the hiring and management of student Brand Ambassadors, and the acquiring of new clients for marketing campaigns. I gained some experience in this field before I left university as in my final year, I was Birmingham’s Brand Ambassador for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and I also worked for another company called On-Campus promotions. I met my current employer at a networking event for students interested in PR, Advertising and Marketing hosted by Birmingham Business School. I found out about this event because through LANS I’d also studied some business modules in Marketing, a field I’d always been curious about.
The interdisciplinary natures of a LANS degree meant I was really well-rounded for seeking employment. While I had the analytical and communication skills that come with studying a humanities subject like Philosophy, I also acquired some relevant technical knowledge through studying Marketing. This isn’t something I would have been able to do had I just chosen to study a single honours course and it gave me a competitive advantage. While sorting out my own work experience was invaluable in me getting my graduate role, I can’t deny that the opportunity to try out subjects and adapt my degree accordingly was also important in my academic and employment success up to this stage. When you do look for employment however, don’t let the LANS programme speak for itself; sell how it makes you the best person for the role! Emphasise your broad and interdisciplinary subject knowledge, flexibility and organisation, and inter-cultural awareness gained through your year abroad.