Graduate stories: Tara Goatley

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

Tara GoatleyDuring my time studying LANS, I tried my best to explore as many different subjects and societies as I could. Academically, this covered majoring in a natural science, minoring in a social science, and taking modules in arts and humanities, graduating with a First overall. 

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

The main benefit of studying the LANS programme, outside of the academic flexibility, was their encouragement of exploration and personal development. Whilst my personal tutor at times expressed their concern for my ability to effectively balance my time between academia and my hobbies, I was nonetheless encouraged to continue pursuing my interests wherever they may lie. I think this element of LANS is hugely valuable and surprisingly rare, as I’m sure many have discovered when talking to students from other University departments. It was this support and exploration which led me to graduate with an extensive CV covering a wide range of experiences, which enabled me to discover my strengths and weaknesses, decide on a potential career, and ultimately successfully apply for the job I currently have.

Studying LANS also helped me with my self-confidence, as I felt I had achieved a lot during my time at University, in spite of the various adversities LANS students are faced with. The ethos of LANS enabled me to feel proud of my achievements, and inspired me to continue pushing myself to take on new opportunities. I think LANS has fostered in me a strong positive mental attitude towards the world, for which I will always be grateful, and which I will strive to maintain. 

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

My extracurricular activities as I chaired two different societies, founded TEDx at the University, raised over £3,000 for charity, and completed a sprint triathlon. Undertaking all of these endeavours would have felt overwhelming and unachievable without the support and enthusiasm of the LANS staff.

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

My current job is ‘Event Operations Coordinator’ at a company which organises conferences focusing on topics ranging from upcoming policy, to personal development, and diversity and inclusion in the workplace. My role mainly involves liaising with venues, assisting event managers, preparing, printing and packing materials to be used at events, and helping out at the events themselves. 

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?

I would strongly encourage anyone on the LANS programme to take full advantage of the wide breadth of opportunities available at University, whether that’s University-based activities such as sports or societies, or external activities such as volunteering or working in the local community.

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?

The LANS ethos also informs how I spend my time outside of work; I have started organising my own cultural programme in London, which currently includes free talks at the Wellcome Collection, theatre productions and art exhibitions, and lectures at nearby universities. I also get to attend many of my company’s day conferences, which means I get to hear from a lot of fascinating speakers on topics which I would not usually push myself to listen to.