Vanessa Lipman

Vanessa graduated from the University of Birmingham with a first class honours degree in Philosophy.  I currently work for Sainsbury’s, in their central London office, having been selected onto their HR Graduate training scheme. 

How did studying at the University help prepare you for your career?

"Whilst it had long been my ambition to pursue a career in something like either HR or Law, I actually chose to study a non-vocational undergraduate degree in Philosophy as I felt this would allow me to gain a broader range of abilities which would be useful in my working life, whilst developing my interest in the subject.  I sought plenty of advice from Law and HR professionals, all of whom encouraged me to study something I was interested in, as vocational training can come later in life.  I truly believe that having a degree in Philosophy from the University of Birmingham has given me a solid grounding for my career."

How did your degree help develop the skills you needed?

"In my experience, Graduate Employers are often keen to hire people with Philosophy degrees, as the subject provides students with a hugely valuable transferrable skill set.  In my current job, working in Organisational Development, I am already using the analytical, reasoning and literary skills I gained during my studies and am confident that they will continue to be useful as I progress in business.  These skills will also enable me to meet the challenge of the part-time Masters in Management, which I am due to complete in 2010.  Employers can train recruits on technical knowledge, but having the ability to write a clearly structured report or a well-researched business case is where a Philosophy Graduate has a clear advantage in the workplace.  My metaphysics dissertation certainly taught me that!"

What was the best thing about your degree?

"I thoroughly enjoyed my Philosophy degree at Birmingham and I would recommend it to anyone who wants a varied, challenging, academic and thought-provoking degree.  During my studies I was exposed to such interesting ideas and had the opportunity to think, learn and discuss topics that I would never have otherwise considered.  I feel that the degree encourages self-development since it enabled me to stretch my mind and take a far more considered approach to life.  The faculty offers the highest quality teaching whilst providing great support for its students.  I still miss studying philosophy and enjoy reading around the subject in my spare time."