Graduate stories: Cora Jones

What was your major and/or main academic interests at University of Birmingham?

Cora JonesI loved the flexibility of LANS and the ability to explore different disciplines. In first year, I picked modules in Art History, Philosophy, Sociology and Anthropology, alongside compulsory English modules to qualify for the major. I especially enjoyed Philosophy and Sociology and continued taking modules in these until final year. In second year, I began choosing modules based around gender and sexuality, which I developed upon on my year abroad. From my literature classes on American Women Poets and LGBT cinema to my Queer Theory class in Gender and Women’s studies, my year at a Pitzer College in California really opened my eyes to a broad range of topics and issues to explore, as well as how the US really embraces the interdisciplinary nature of Liberal Arts. I was also interested in contemporary US issues and studied reproductive rights in Politics and the African American experience in History. 

Which of your top skills did LANS help you to develop and how did it prepare you for the graduate job market?

I think LANS definitely developed my ‘transferable skills’; when you take modules across disciplines, you learn multiple writing styles as well as different ways to think critically. It also goes without saying that the flexibility of modules that you can take helps you gain a greater understanding of what interests you in the long term. The core LANS modules helped me develop my teamwork skills through collaboration on projects. Group work was only a small focus in my subject modules, so it was great to have LANS modules where group work was an integral part.

Reminiscing on the wider uni life, what’s one thing you loved about being a student in Birmingham?

I loved the campus experience; the variety of societies, events and, living just next door to your friends! I loved getting involved and in 2nd year I began volunteering for New Street Records, creating posters and flyers for events that we hosted on campus and Selly Oak. I also worked part-time in both second and fourth year, which certainly helped me prepare for the reality of the working week after University. I think part-time work is often looked at as a necessity or a possible distraction from studies but for me it allowed me to manage my time more effectively as well as develop my skills in graphic design through creating promotional material for the Guild and University. There are so many opportunities on campus, whether it is societies, voluntary or paid work, these are all invaluable experiences which create a more enriching student life. Also, I miss the chimes of Old Joe!

What are you doing in the present and which new career pathways have you found yourself taking since graduating?

I am currently working for Red Carnation Hotels as a Content Editor in their Marketing department. My role is a perfect mixture of writing, editing, as well as design. My day to day tasks involve building web pages, editing copy and writing blog posts. Like Liberal Arts, my role is quite broad and most recently, I led a design change project for our websites, working closely with our web developers to test and implement changes.

Where do you see yourself in five years time? (specifically, in terms of your career goals) 

That’s a tough question! I think marketing fits me well and I would like to develop my career further in this field. Although I’m not entirely sure on the role, I would like to continue to work as an editor but also develop my design skills more. A role which comprised of both aspects would be perfect.

What’s one piece of advice that you’d wish you’d known when you were a LANS student? /What one piece of advice would you give to our current students to prepare them for life after uni?

Prepare for the unexpected! I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect from my first graduate job. My job description has changed a lot from when I started (for the better!) and it can be sometimes hard to tell from a job description what your day to day will consist of. Also, make the most of the LANS cultural programme and trips abroad!

Thinking back on your degree, can you give an example of how your approaches to learning and career planning might have changed during and as a result of your LANS experience?

I think LANS opens the door for numerous learning and career pathways. There is no one set path with a Liberal Arts degree which suited me as I was interested in a variety of disciplines and wasn’t sure what to pursue after graduation. It really is a sort of ‘create your own degree’ with the ability to focus on key areas of interest with the support of the dedicated LANS team.