The Summer Fair – reflections from an arts student

Hi – we’ve got a great guest post from Emily Middleton, an English student and Student Careers & Skills rep. Emily takes a reflective look at yesterday’s fair and asks, “what’s in it for arts students?“….

As an English undergraduate this is a question that comes up a lot. Warwick is the second most targeted university by graduate employers in the UK, but the assumption among us artsy types tends to be that they’re only here for the BSc graduates. What’s in it for us if we don’t want to be high-flying bankers?

This was my mission at the Summer Careers Fair this week. As I entered and clocked the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants my heart sank a little, and I admit the Navy didn’t spark my interest (I don’t think I appealed much to them either!), but that doesn’t mean there isn’t something for everyone. I was immediately impressed with the number of people – both students and recruiters – making the most of the event.

When I got chatting to Unilever, I found that for six of their graduate programmes, they didn’t mind what degree you have. they focus on five competencies: growth mindset, consumer and customer focus, bias for action, building talent and teams, and accountability and responsbility. If these sound like a mouthful (& they really do), then have a look on their website – they’ve broken them down in a more meaningful way.

The Unipart Group look for intellect, drive and judgement – all of which they reckon Warwick students can demonstrate. Creativity is a large part of what they do; the representative I spoke to was keen to tell me how one of their operations managers studied Classics (“that one with Odysseus”). If you’ve ever written an essay – about Odysseus or marketing strategies – you’ve probably demonstrated some of these skills already. See the connection?

At Explore Learning, graduates go straight in as Assistant Directors in their centres, handling everything from finance to marketing. The rep was a drama graduate, who was very excited to tell me that the company’s Head of Recruitment started off in the same scheme – which only asks that you achieve a 2:1 and have some experience with children.

There were some very trendy promoters from Abercrombie and Fitch where, yet again, the degree subject doesn’t matter. You go on quite an exciting journey with their International Merchant Graduate Scheme, as you get to oversee a first product from its design to sale. What are they looking for? Enthusiastic students with leadership skills – plenty of arts students fit the bill.

So, what did I learn from the fair? Well, the one recurring theme was around degree subject – it really doesn’t seem to matter to most recruiters. Don’t make this a barrier when job hunting. It’s not just about the grades either: one employer informed me they’re more than happy to consider applicants with less than a 2:1, if they can prove themselves. What they want is for you to demonstrate your competency, passion, creativity and leadership. If you need to develop these, then start now and get involved. Why not volunteer, join a society, or work for Raw? Whatever it is, throw yourself into it and don’t miss the chance to take the lead, show your initiative and develop the skills employers want. It’s not about degree subject, it’s about you!

If you need more help, then use Students Careers and Skills. It’s what they’re here for. So check out their career success toolkit and get on it!

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