Emily O’Connell Bater spent years working the glamourous world of film but will soon begin a qualification in primary school teaching. Why the dramatic change of career?
After graduating from UEA with an English Literature degree, Emily went on to study for an MA in Screen and Film Studies. But she had no idea what she wanted to do afterwards: ‘The very concept of a career was an antithesis to me’ she says.
She decided to have a go at entering the film industry, but this didn’t come without fear and doubt: ‘I’ve always known the film industry is very closed-door and elitist,’ says Emily. ‘It’s shamefully still steeped in being more about who you know than the skills you have’.
After a few jobs as a runner on short films and writing reviews for a friend’s film website – all unpaid – she was offered a month’s trial period as a personal assistant within a film company. Emily was soon given increased responsibilities within her job role, allowing her to read and provide feedback on scripts.
She was then promoted to Production and Development Coordinator, ‘I was delighted and really grateful to have my skills recognised, but pushed hard for a decent pay rise and a job that paid well’.
So, the next career step for Emily? Ask her this a year ago and she would have said her goal was to progress her film career and become a freelance script editor. However, this wasn’t to be.
‘The film industry wasn’t suited to me, and I wasn’t suited to it’, she says. ‘I couldn’t sit down for the rest of my life staring at a computer’ she says. The realisation made way for a very different career goal to take shape. Emily decided that what she really wanted was to go back to university and train to become a primary school teacher.
‘I was walking away from a position from which I could step forward, but I realised it wasn’t a good step forward, it would’ve ultimately been a sideways or backwards step,’ says Emily who is looking forward to becoming a student once again.
‘I do feel nervous and apprehensive,’ she admits. But Emily feels that this new career will be more rewarding.
The versatility of her English degree, she says, has given her the confidence to do what she calls a ‘career 360.’
Emily used to doubt the usefulness of studies but she sees her university years differently now: ‘You can write anything, you can talk to anybody, you can turn your hand to any type of communication,’ she says. ‘I don’t think I realised this at the time. It gives you so many skills that are transferrable to so many jobs.’
Rebecca Rhodes is a second year English Literature student at UEA. She has experience in music journalism and is particularly interested in radio broadcasting. She is keen to focus on honing the various skills offered by her English degree while she considers which direction her career will take after graduation.