Kim is a communications professional, who graduated in English. While at university, Kim organised a large-scale charity fashion show and gained valuable work experience during summer holidays, including an internship with Vogue magazine and coverage of London Fashion Week with Reuters news agency.
What is your current profession?
I am an Employee Communications Officer at the University of Leeds
Describe your role.
My role mainly involves managing large communications projects, from organising large events and facilitating workshops to managing high profile marketing campaigns.
Describe your career progression.
During my final year of University I stood in an election and was voted in as Women’s Officer on the Leeds University Union Executive Committee. This was a fantastic opportunity as you have a huge amount of responsibility and autonomy. During the year I gained experience in managing budgets, writing policies, chairing committees, negotiating and influencing senior staff, public speaking and running marketing campaigns. It was hard work and incredibly challenging at times but I feel I learnt more in that year than I could have in any other job, straight out of University.
During this time I worked closely with the University of Leeds it was the first year which Michael Arthur was in post and we met with him regularly. Often my role was to negotiate with the University and a key achievement was securing the initial funding to expand the on-campus nursery.
Having had such a responsible job at LUU, it was a bit of a shock to the system to start at the bottom of the career ladder. I began as Publications Assistant, doing clerical work and assisting with projects, however, the experience I had gained at LUU helped me to progress quickly. After about a year, I was given a mentor, who greatly assisted with my development. I began to work on larger scale projects, taking on more and more responsibility. I was very lucky that I was given the opportunity to show what I could do, and move up in the organisation. 2 years later and I am a senior member of the team; leading on organisation-wide, high profile projects.
What did you do whilst studying that helped pave the way into your chosen career?
Since school I have tried to get as much work experience as possible. It was all unpaid and meant giving up some of my holidays but it gave me a fantastic insight into a variety of careers.
For example, I was determined to be a fashion journalist until I spent 4 seasons working on London Fashion Week, and did work experience at Vogue. Only then did I realise it wasn’t as glamorous as I had thought. Organising the charity fashion show in my final year at University was fantastic – I learnt so much about project management, publicity, managing budgets, negotiating and motivating others. It was a challenge juggling it with my final exams but it made me realise how much I could have fit in whilst studying. I wish I had done more!
What skills and attributes did you develop as part of your course?
Studying English taught me a whole new way of thinking. It was a big challenge moving from learning ‘parrot fashion’ at school, to thinking for myself and working independently.
In my second and third year, I developed a passion for post-colonial literature. The tutors in this area were fantastic and really helped me to broaden my knowledge of different countries and cultures.
Aside from that we often had to read 3 books a week so I learnt to read and type very quickly skills which continue to be very useful!
What skills and attributes did you develop from your co-curricular activities?
I found that it was the co-curricular activities which gave me the skills I really needed for my future career the kind of things which made a difference to my cv and in interviews.
I learnt to manage projects, balance my time (and priorities), communicate effectively with different audiences and lead and motivate others. They also helped me to gain in confidence!
What advice would you have for students studying today?
Make the most of your time at University! I really regret not doing more in my first and second year. English was not a very time intensive course but I was lazy and it took me until third year to discover all the fantastic things on offer to students. Degrees on their own aren’t enough to get a good job you need to do more to stand out from the crowd. I would also suggest being open minded about your career path and be prepared to try different things. There are a huge number of possibilities, and the right fit might not be the one you expect.