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What do graduates of English actually do?

Alumni case studies

Christine - HR Manager

I didn’t know what career I wanted when I went to university. I chose to study for a degree in English Literature because I knew I would enjoy it and it would give me many useful transferable skills.

During my time at university, I went to a CRAC (Career Development Organisation) ‘Insight into Management’ course which gave me the chance to hear speakers from various areas of business, and develop some management kills. I spoke to a couple of young Human Resource Managers who worked for very different organisations. Their roles sounded so varied and interesting I decided I would look into this area of work as a possible career. I researched HR Management through the university careers library, internet, and other sources and found out exactly what it entailed. I would need to study for the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) qualification which would take three years if I did it part-time, alongside full-time work.

When I left university with an upper second class degree, I began to apply for HR administration roles. As I did not have any experience, I knew I would have to work my way up from the bottom but I was quite happy to do this as long as I would be allowed to study for the CIPD. I struggled to get a position within HR as experience is what everyone is looking for, so to tide me over, I took a general administrative role in a small careers advice company.

Through becoming a valued employee to them, I managed to persuade them to allow me to take over the limited HR work within the company, and to take one afternoon each week to study for my CIPD. I part-funded this myself, and the company generously paid for the other half, but I had to make up the hours I missed throughout the week.

On the CIPD course I met a variety of interesting people and the opportunity to network meant that I heard about a HR Administrator vacancy at a big logistics company based in the area. I applied for the role and was successful. 

Two years later, I had worked my way up to HR Officer and was dealing with all manner of HR related issues such as absence management, long-term sick cases, disciplinaries, performance management, and redundancies. I then took over responsibility for the company’s graduate training scheme and was able to apply my knowledge and experience as a graduate to aid recruitment and retention of potential managers.   Following this, I obtained a promotion to HR Business Adviser which entailed taking over HR responsibility for a whole business unit covering 21 sites across the UK and Ireland.

Recently I decided to further my career by moving outside the company to a more senior role as a Contract HR Manager for a larger logistics company.  This has given me HR responsibility for a major customer contract and a team of HR Managers, HR Officers and HR Administrators that report into me.  Being in a company with a larger HR structure has given me more opportunities for development and to progress my career.