In order to begin explaining my life after the three years studying at York St. John University (2015-18), I first need to highlight some events which occurred over my three years as a YSJ undergraduate.
I chose English Literature as my BA subject at YSJ for only one reason: my passion for books. I knew from a young age a University degree was going to be almost mandatory for future success. I chose to study at YSJ for one simple reason: it felt like home. I travelled from my hometown a few miles outside of Norwich up to York and instantly fell in love with the campus. Besides the stunning architecture, I instantly believed that the tutors at YSJ cared for me as an individual rather than merely a student on the course.
In the second semester of my final year, the University offered a module, ‘Literature at Work,’ which allowed students to explore the many avenues of employment after taking an English Literature degree. Within this module, most weeks consisted of a lecture and Q&A from people working in employment from journalism to publishing. Prior to my final year at YSJ, I had very little idea as to where my academic career was leading me. Again, I knew I wanted to work with books; however, my in-depth knowledge of specific book-related sectors was almost non-existent.
David Barker, who worked with Continuum publishing, later to be purchased by publishing behemoth Bloomsbury, offered an extremely insightful lecture on life in the publishing world. I instantly fell in love with every element of the industry and truly believed I had finally worked out the next step of my academic career.
I spoke to David after the lecture and discovered he was a lecturer at the University of Derby, offering a Publishing MA. After visiting an open day at Derby, I was offered an unconditional offer on the course. All of the events, from my initial conversation with David to the offer on the Publishing MA happened within a few months over early to late Spring 2018.
September 2018 saw the beginning of my MA at Derby. Throughout the first semester, I came to understand that without choosing YSJ, this opportunity may have never been offered to me. I have fallen in love with academia once again and now wish to pursue a career in Publishing after this semester. The MA offers students to create and engage with a ‘Major Project’ of their choice, where you must find and publish work of your choice (specifically written for the project). I decided to work with YSJ and their alumni in order to create a short anthology of work which can then be distributed to current and future YSJ students.
This piece has touched mostly on my academic life during and after my time at YSJ, but it would be unfair to leave without acknowledging the friendship and community which I have become a part of. I have made friends with students who I now see as friends for life, alongside creating bonds with tutors who I know are always willing to help with anything I need, even after my transition from student to alumni.
By Tom Young
I started applying to universities several years after finishing my A Levels, and one of the biggest concerns for my friends and family was that I’d be forking out nine grand a year to be here. If I’d gone straight after college, I’d have paid nine grand for the full three years. For many, the stark contrast in what students pay for their tuition has brought into question what exactly it is we’re paying for. Well, I’ll tell you.
I’m currently wrapping up the second year of my English Literature and Creative Writing course, and one of the modules I’m finishing this semester, Publishing, Production and Performance, is exemplary of the practical skills you can gain from a literature degree. As part of one of the module projects, I’ve spent the last couple of months organising the launch of Beyond the Walls, an anthology of York St John University student writing. The event was a success and completely sold out. Everyone on that module now has a book they can slap on the desk of potential employers, while they proudly say “I helped craft and create that product, and I have the skills to do it again”.
It seems to me that the anxieties surrounding arts degrees are the result of a widespread lack of awareness for the diversity of the creative industries. Using Beyond the Walls as an example, the text would not exist if its production relied solely on the efforts of writers. It needed to be curated, edited and designed, and it needed a showcase event to launch it to the public. The event needed planning; it needed live music, food, booze, projections and lighting. All this was done by creative writing students, and none of it had anything to do with writing; it was done for the sake of the writing.
The English Literature and Creative Writing course, shockingly, is not always about writing, and its student body is not made up of dreamers, hoping to become the next J.K. Rowling. We are members of the literary community, we are merchants of culture, and we understand that the best way to learn how to do something is to do it. My colleagues and I now know how to publish a book because we’ve done it, and we look forward to doing it again. I can tell my family and friends to put their anxieties at ease; creative writing is a commodity, and the industry has never been more exciting than it is in this bewildering modern age.
Careers website gothinkbig.co.uk are holding a ‘Jobhack’ event with major publishers Penguin Random House. Here’s how they describe it:
JobHack is a workshop day on Friday 28th October in Halifax. Through activities and talks, you’ll learn about how to get into publishing, the different roles in the industry and what they really mean, and find out how to stand out and get hired.
We’ll put you in the shoes of an editor, a recruiter, a marketer and many other roles in between, so you can get to grips with what it’s like to work in those functions. Plus, you’ll even get a chance to network with the team (we’re nice, promise!), get CV tips and advice, and go behind the scenes of the world’s first global publisher.
For more information on how to apply, head over to the gothinkbig website:
The deadline for applications is 21 October
By Vasilena Chogolyanova
I’m a second year student in English Literature and Linguistics at Malmö University, and I spent this semester (Spring 2016) at York St John. My main objective was to take practical modules, so I can get some more experience in the field of publishing. I ended up choosing “Publishing, Production and Performance” (PPP) and “Literature at Work”, which proved to be the best combination of modules. I took part of two amazing projects, the goal of which was to put together and print out pamphlets.
The aim of the Text & Contexts project in the Literature at Work module was to produce an anthology from some of the excellent work of Level 3 students in the English Literature programme. It was exiting to have the opportunity to read through their critical essays. The PPP project’s objective was to publish the first ever York Literary Review – a journal of new writing. This project took most of my time this semester, because our team had to read through over 700 submissions of poetry, fiction and non-fiction coming from all over the world for our first issue.
I think that the PPP project especially provided me great insight into the life of an editor and the amount of work one has to go through. I worked very hard on both projects, but it was worth it in the end when I got the two finished pamphlets in my hands and could see my name on them. I’m so proud of my team and myself for putting together these amazing publications. I have already put them in my CV, and I believe the experience I’ve got from these two university modules is as good as doing a placement.
Studying and living in York proved to be a truly lovely experience. The university is filled with life, creativity, and amazing people. I would definitely recommend it to anyone who wants to get an immersive experience of York – the best small city in Britain – and York St John University.
‘The Student Pocket Guide’ are looking for new writers for their website.
They describe it as “a great opportunity for you to have your work published on a reputable website and… something to add to your CV”
Once they create a profile for you,
“you can log in and write an article for us any time you like! Ideally, this would be once a week, or more if you would like. We will also make it clear that the article was written by you.”
The magazine currently features interviews with Keith Lemon, Derren Brown and Embarrassing Bodies GP Dr Pixie McKenna.
Jenna, who works for the Guide writes,
“We have a variety of topics for you to write about – including music, film, TV, fashion, technology and student accommodation, to name a few.
If you’re interested in this opportunity then we would love to hear from you!”
Please contact me via email – firstname.lastname@example.org
In the mean time, please feel free to check out our website: http://www.thestudentpocketguide.com/