How an Arts Degree Helped with my Career in Education

7th October 2022

Heidi is from Boston, UK and moved to Lincoln to study Drama at the University of Lincoln. She then went on to study a postgraduate degree in Marketing at the same university before moving towards a PGCE in Primary Education at Bishop Grosseteste University. She now works as a Higher Engagement Assistant for Hepp.

New opportunities

When I finished my A levels, I knew I wanted to go to university. It was a great time for a new start, new opportunities that could really help me on my pathway within the arts industry. I was dead set on performing on the west end and told myself “If I was to study for an undergraduate degree at university it would be a steppingstone before stage school and could give me a taste of what to expect for the rest of my career in the arts.” So, I weighed up my options and decided to do an undergraduate degree in Drama Studies at the University of Lincoln.

A change of mind

I got halfway through my first year and my interests started to change. By the time I finished my third year of university, I didn’t want to become a performer anymore. I started to panic because I didn’t think employers would want to hire someone with an arts background. I loved performing but I didn’t see it as a career anymore.

Another route!

After my degree I took some time out from education and worked in retail to build up some income and develop a better understanding of what I wanted to do. Because my arts degree involved a lot of the skills required for customer services, I had no problem gaining a job in this sector. But I didn’t want to stay in retail for the rest of my life. So, I looked into routes in postgraduate education.

Although I didn’t want to perform anymore, I did want to work in the arts industry. I marketed shows that I performed during my undergraduate degree and shadowed in marketing departments, so I investigated a career in marketing, more specifically, arts marketing. Through this I was ready to start a career as an arts marketer and started to look for arts marketing internships to get involved in my chosen field.

Then Covid happened.

The arts industry was collapsing. No audiences in theatres meant no income for shows, which had a domino effect on job offers within the arts. I was, once again, panicking. I took a step back, reviewed my situation and thought about what I REALLY wanted to achieve.

The short answer was, I wanted a job where I could help people.

Another another route!

I went on to retrain within the education sector. My background in performing helped me with my delivery techniques and how to present myself in a room full of students. My strong presentation skills made me stand out from the crowd and I soared through my training with flying colours.

After working in supply teaching for a year, I found that although I loved teaching the hours weren’t accommodating what I wanted as a career. I felt a bit stuck, then I turned to something that I was very familiar with… Higher Education. This lead me to my current position as a Higher Education Engagement Assistant, helping students discover the endless possibilities of Higher Education.

Before I started my undergraduate degree, I was told that an arts degree would get me nowhere unless I wanted to perform on the west end.

Here is the list of skills it has provided me with during my career:

  • Presentation skills
  • Confidence
  • Organisation
  • Good communication skills
  • Quick thinking
  • Writing skills
  • Reading skills

And so so much more.

An arts degree IS a valid degree

For me an arts degree is not just about being creative. An arts degree can lead to a lot more opportunities and can equip you with so many skills you’d never thought you’d achieve.

An old drama lecturer of mine once said to me: “Think of your degree as a toolbox and the skills that you acquire are the tools. Everyone has a different toolbox filled with different tools they need for a job. Even though every person’s tools may be different colours or different makes, they are valid tools to get the job done.”

Categories: Graduate Interns. Topics: Benefits of HE and Student Life.

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