Ashleigh Howells – BA (Hons) English graduate

Year of graduation: 2016

Current employer: Sponge UK

Current job title: Graduate Content Writer

Current location: Plymouth

“Without my English degree I don’t think I would be working where I am now.”

Tell us about your career path since graduation.

I was careful to get as much work experience as possible, both during and after the completion of my course. I was lucky enough to get placements in London with The Times and John Lewis as well as working with an American company called Healthy is the New Skinny. All this experience helped me to secure the graduate position at Sponge UK (that I stumbled upon almost by accident). I applied whilst I was still at university and started my new position three days after my final lecture! It’s been really busy.

How has your degree helped/influenced your career path?

Without my English degree I don’t think I would be working where I am now. I use my creative writing skills every day as I need a meticulous attention to detail and a keen knowledge on how best to structure chunks of text. In this respect my degree has been invaluable – but meeting people, learning how to work in a professional office, and applying my creativity to a skill specific role came mostly from the experience I gained in workplaces.

What is the most difficult thing which you have faced in your career?

I think adjusting from student life to professional life has been the greatest challenge: it’s a totally different mind-set.

What is the best, most exciting or fun thing that you have done in your career?

I get to travel a lot as part of my current role; within my first month of working here I had been to Copenhagen to work with a huge global company. This was a dream come true. Since then I have worked in Geneva as well. This is the most exciting part of my job. I have also really enjoyed being involved in writing games, working with exciting millennial companies, and meeting clients.

If you were just about to graduate again, what would you do differently?

I don’t think I would change anything about my graduation: it was just the best day. I think just making sure you stay focused throughout your course so you can achieve the very best you possible can is the most important thing. That way your graduation couldn’t be better.

What advice would you give to anyone wanting to get in to the same line of work?

My role isn’t very well known. As learning designers we find it quite hard to explain our jobs to people outside of the e-learning world. My role is very creative and challenging and perfect for anyone who wants a varied, exciting and, as I said, creative role. Sponge are always looking for talented graduates and offer work experience. Getting as much work experience under your belt is invaluable and can only look good to employers. Also, just ask questions – if you’re interested in any role, ring the company and talk to them. Being human is so important.

How did studying at Plymouth help you?

Sponge UK is Plymouth based. I wouldn’t have found it if I hadn’t studied here. It was also really close to home for me (Taunton), so it was the perfect blend of being close enough to go back with washing and problems and far enough away to feel the freedom. Plymouth University also offered me an academic excellence scholarship which I accepted – it really made my mind up for me. I used this bursary to travel to China on the Shanghai business summer school. This was life changing and such an incredible experience – a total credit to Plymouth.

Did you undertake a placement during your degree and if so, how did this benefit you?

I went to the Shanghai business summer school. It was a life changing experience and taught me many skills, like communication techniques, how to adapt, and basic language skills. Some of these things I use every day in my work with foreign clients.

What is your favourite memory of studying at Plymouth?

Aside from the summer school, I think my greatest memory comes from living in my third year house with all the girls who totally altered my whole university experience. You really make family bonds with your housemates which is incredible. I will also never forget all the trips and productions I went to see, both on the course and as a member of the press for the student newspaper.

Inspired by this story?

For more information about studying BA (Hons) English please visit our BA (Hons) English page. For more information about our range of courses within the School of Humanities and Performing Art, please visit the school page.

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