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- Student Stories
English Alumni - where do they end up?
Since graduating in 2013, I’ve worked for various charities, in both voluntary and paid roles. My jobs have been diverse, from events management to writing online and print fundraising resources.
As a student I absolutely loved fundraising - whether organising University-wide events such as the RAG Ball, or coaxing sponsorship money out of fellow students for bizarre challenges. This experience and my enthusiasm for international development combined lead naturally into work in the third sector, but I’ve drawn endlessly on the various skills I gained from studying English. I’m currently a communications officer at Christian Aid, and rigorous tutorial work on my writing style means that I’m unfazed by writing copy and can be an uncompromising editor. Everyone goes on about time management skills these days, but managing a demanding schedule at Oxford has really enhanced my ability to work to deadlines.
As a graduate, I’ve missed devoting time to think about writing critically, so the next step in my career will be to start a Masters in Comparative Literature at King’s College, London. As a third year at Pembroke, I was fortunate to be able to pursue a longstanding interest in the relationship between French and English literature through the new Comparative Literature option. This was an ideal opportunity to streamline my plans for postgraduate study, whilst gaining a strong degree from Oxford definitely helped me to win partial funding.
I graduated in 2002 and spent the next year doing a Masters in Linguistics at UCL while freelancing for the Independent’s Education and Careers supplement. The following year, I did an internship at the Washington DC bureau of the American public radio show, Marketplace, where I met my now-husband, Taylor Dimsdale. When my internship visa ran out, we came back to London, where I freelanced for another year doing various bits and pieces in print journalism, before joining the BBC World Service as a producer in their News and Current Affairs section in the summer of 2005. I stayed there until 2007, when I switched to television and worked at the BBC World News TV newsroom for another three years.
After getting married, I moved back to Washington DC in September 2010. I freelanced at the BBC bureau for a few months, before working at AP as an assignment desk editor for six months. Then I saw the British Council’s office in DC was advertising for a head of press and communications, so I applied and got the job. I’ve been at the British Council for three years now, and it’s been a fascinating organisation to work in. I co-edit their global blog, and manage all communications from their US office. In my spare time, I’m also studying for a low-residency Master’s in poetry at Vermont College of Fine Arts.
Since leaving Pembroke, I have completed an MPhil in American Literature at Cambridge, writing a dissertation on male friendship in the work of Philip Roth. I am staying on at Cambridge for a PhD, continuing to specialise in modern fiction. I had thought about an academic career from my second undergraduate year onwards, though it was only as a Finalist that the idea really took hold: the opportunity in my third year to write an extended essay on Roth, supervised by Professor Small, was the starting point for the work I am doing now.
The tutorial system at Oxford is perfect preparation for the kinds of conversation that you have as a graduate student, whether in seminars, conferences or supervisions. Similarly, Pembroke instils an ethic of independent work that makes the transition to graduate study easier, and over the past year I’ve been grateful for the various ways in which my education at the College has prepared me for further study.
I graduated in 2002 and was lucky enough to become a trainee at the Daily Telegraph. I was there for a couple of years, before finding my way to the Daily Mail, where I worked as Economics Correspondent for a year. Then back to the Telegraph as Economics Editor, at the terrifyingly young age of 25. I worked there for five wonderful years (for me, not the economy), writing news stories and a weekly column on the economic crisis, the recession and the problems in the banking sector.
At this stage, I decided it might be a good opportunity to get some formal economics training, so I went to the Kennedy School of Government in Harvard for a year, where I took a Masters and tried to get an inside view of how policy gets put together. It was a fantastic experience, and I was fortunate enough to have some funding from the Fulbright Commission and the Shorenstein Center.
I arrived back in the UK and happily Sky News were looking for their first Economics Editor. I've been there ever since and along the way I've written two books - 50 Economics Ideas and The Summit. I have a weekly column in the business section of The Times (and I spend a little too much time on Twitter).
Pembroke alumna Katharine Viner will be the next Editor-in-Chief of the Guardian newspaper, and the first woman at the helm in its 194-year history.
Initiated and organised by our graduate students, Pembroke hosts an annual lecture on Fantasy Literature which is open to all students and is held in honour of former Fellow JRR Tolkien.