Rebecca Hattersley - Writer

Name:   Rebecca Hattersley                                                                 
Occupation: Writer

What did you study at University?
First degree in Business and Finance, Second degree in English Literature

What extra-curricular activities did you get involved in at University that aided you achieving your career goals?
I volunteered in a Student Peer Support role through my university Student Union, assisting first year students who were experiencing difficulties with their studies. I believe this experience helped me to secure my first role after graduating: a research support assistant in a European research centre, which involved regular meetings with students and academics. The Director of the centre, who interviewed me for the research role, was really interested in the peer support work I had done.

How do you think the activities you attended at University/Students' Union have supported you? (e.g. in gaining skills, confidence, experience etc.)?
I definitely think the Peer Support role helped build my confidence. I was required to enter lectures and study groups to introduce myself and the service. Working with individual students in an advisory role was also a useful skill to acquire for the wider workplace.

What was your first job after leaving University?
Research Support Assistant in a European Social research centre. I worked on a large-scale bid for research funding and provided general support to the Director of the centre.

How long did it take you, from leaving University, to achieve your career goals?
My graduate role in the research centre was secured six months after I graduated. I was really pleased as the area of research was closely related to my final dissertation.

What was the career path you took from leaving full time education to achieving your career goals?
I have worked for three HE employers since leaving University and am now working as a freelance writer. The writing aspect of my previous roles was the area I most enjoyed, and I would often ask to work on projects that required written analysis and report writing. I started to write outside of my day job, mostly unpaid, and built up a portfolio of writing. My first paid editorial role was writing copy for a luxury property and lifestyle magazine. I suppose this was my lucky break as I was then able to approach other magazines with published work under my belt.  On reflection, I actually think my business background was what secured me my first writing role, rather than my English degree.

What is your typical work day like?
As a freelance writer I am able to set my own hours, though I prefer to start work early and often give myself a target word count to achieve by midday. Much of my work involves researching a particular subject, which I really enjoy. I am often out and about with my notebook, taking photographs and reading around a subject.

How well prepared were you when leaving University, to feel confident in finding and applying for jobs?
I was confident in applying for graduate jobs having studied hard, worked part-time and therefore gained valuable work experience, and volunteered through my Student Union.

On reflection, is there anything you would have done differently to prepare for the world of work?
I would have studied a language as part of my degree, as I believe this would have been a useful skill to have, especially when considering writing for international newspapers and magazines.

What advice would you give to students who aspire to careers in a similar field to yourself?
My career path as a writer was not exactly linear. A job in writing was something that I only really started to consider as a result of working in different environments and roles. It is something that has taken me a number of years to arrive at. My advice would be: join a local writing group, submit writing to favourite magazines, write for an independent publication in your home town, start a blog of your writing etc. It’s basically about showing passion for the subject and getting a lucky break. A graduate role in editorial / journalism would obviously be a different and more logical route.