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Case Study: Hannah Brownlow

Personal details
Degree:Italian Profile picture
School(s): School of Modern Languages
Year of Graduation:Jun-2011
National of: United Kingdom
Employment details
Organisation: BrightCarbon
Job title: Managing Consultant
Occupational Sector: Design
What has been your route to getting your current position?
In 2011 I graduated with my MA Hons in single honours Italian. In fact it was while I was out in Italy on my year abroad that I had an epiphany. I realised I didn’t want to go into a career that used my language per se, but actually used the skills I was learning. I’d got really involved in student radio at the University of Verona, and we had a couple of hundred podcast subscribers who wanted to get involved with our creative and madcap approach to looking at living abroad as a student. I also realised that travelling, and meeting and getting to know different people from different cultures was something that I absolutely loved. But coming back to the Bubble in fourth year, I was faced with a dilemma. I knew I didn’t want to follow one of the ‘traditional’ career routes for a languages graduate (teaching, translating, and the like). What I wanted to do was something creative, that broadened my horizons, and harnessed the skills I was learning along the way (both in the lecture theatre, and out of it). But where do you go to find a job that gives you all of that, and is looking for a languages graduate? It took me a while to work that out. I spent a long time looking. (And I do mean a long time.) After a short stint working as a content developer for an art instruction website, I finally found it: I am now a Managing Consultant for a presentation and eLearning delivery specialist company called BrightCarbon.
What does your job involve ?
Day-to-day you'll find me creating visual content, doing a bit of design, and writing presentations and eLearning. I also get the chance to present it and train people on creating great content themselves. And there's even a bit of travel thrown in for good measure.
What are the best bits of your job ?
Working for an agency gives me the chance to work with different people in different companies, and produce a different creative output each time; managing, though hard, can be really rewarding; and working for such a forward-thinking global company means loads of opportunities to travel and spend time working out how we can best delight our clients.
Why were you successful?
When applying for my job at BrightCarbon I was struck by how the job advert asked for a type of person rather than a list of qualifications. My personality was a great match and I've been able to learn the relevant skills along the way. I also spent some time with a careers advisor who transformed my CV from a list of 'things I'd done' into a list of 'things I can do' - or skills-based.
What skills/ knowledge from your degree have you found particularly helpful in this role?
Studying a language makes you an expert in communication, quick-thinking, and thinking outside the box: these skills become innate to you as you live abroad and learn how to communicate effectively. Working out the mechanics of effective communication is what makes presentations and eLearning work, so learning how to draw on this experience has been vital in my job.
What advice would you give to students wishing to follow the same path?
Communication, communication, communication: what does a languages degree help you most to do well? Communicate. Look for creative jobs that need effective communicators, because that’s what you excel at as a language graduate. I started as a Communication Consultant at BrightCarbon, where my day job was turning words into effective visual sequences. I needed lashings of creativity, and – most importantly – communication skills. Small and innovative: however creative you want to be, if you’re in a huge corporation, you’re going to be limited by bureaucracy, and corporate structure. Look for a small – but growing – company. Since joining BrightCarbon, the company has tripled in size and diversified into new services. It’s an exciting journey to be part of. Think outside the box: I had aspirations of working in television. And radio. And maybe film too. But now I work in PowerPoint. Literally. But just because it’s not what I expected to do doesn’t mean it’s not a fulfilling career choice. Don’t restrict yourself into thinking there’s only one path for you. Find a job that suits your skills and personality, not necessarily what you think you want to do.