BA American Literature with Creative Writing - Miranda Langford
Years at UEA
Miranda Langford’s career in communications has been shaped by her time at UEA
Her experiences on her course, during her year abroad in California, an internship and writing for a music magazine - it all goes to show how important it can be to be open to the opportunities that come along.
Digital Coordinator at MPL Communications
What drew you to UEA?
I found it really hard to decide where to go. It takes me a long time to make a decision, so I think I actually visited UEA about four times before I decided to make it my firm choice.
But a big factor was Norwich – I really liked Norwich. I didn't want to go to a massive sprawling city, I wanted something that had enough going on but was still quite small. There are lots of independent shops, bars, vintage shops and it’s near the seaside for a day out.
Plus, it seemed very green and with lots of veggie places to eat as I'm a vegetarian. Music was a big draw, knowing that the LCR (gig venue) has a lot of visiting bands and Norwich as well has a big music scene.
I went to sample lectures on open days and felt everyone was so enthusiastic. And the course I chose, American Literature and creative writing with a Year Abroad, was only available at UEA. I knew I wanted to have a year abroad and not speaking any other languages, I chose American Studies.
How was your year abroad?
My year abroad was amazing. I went to San Francisco and got a house share with other students who were all from California.
It was so interesting; they study differently over there. It's nine to five rather than a few set hours a week and you have to be in university all the time. San Francisco is a hub for writers, and we had a lot of visiting writers and the creative writing classes themselves, like the lecturers, were amazing. I wrote my best work in that year.
I know you maybe don't think American culture is that different to UK culture, but it really is and being so immersed in that was quite life changing. It really built my confidence, expanded my horizons and my view of the world and I made friends for life.
In my work I've worked with people based in California and I know their culture. When I go over for work visits, I can see my friends as well. It's like a second home. I loved my year abroad. I would do it all again if I could!
What made you choose American literature and Creative Writing in the first place?
I was originally looking for American studies, as I wanted that year abroad. I really loved literature and writing.
I knew that UEA was really good for creative writing as well. I also wanted to study something that was recent and relevant in literature. UEA offered post 9/11 poetry and I saw that no one else seemed to be studying that yet. It's just fascinating how you can apply it to l the world today because it's so new. That's why I chose the course.
Did the course meet your expectations and what did you like best?
Yes I really loved it. I always talk about how much I loved my course.
The Creative writing workshops were amazing. We were a close group who knew each other's writing style and each other’s work really well. We felt comfortable giving each other feedback. I looked forward to going to the workshops every week. The course also introduced me to some of my favourite books in contemporary American fiction that say a lot about America at the moment – it was so interesting.
Can you pinpoint like the most valuable thing you learned on the course that you now take into everyday life?
Being able to write creatively and to a brief. From the year abroad, - life skills: independence and meeting people who live completely differently to you and immersing yourself in their culture and having that connection to another place.
Did you use any of the like career services while you were at UEA?
I was student ambassador and in my fourth year I had an internship with the National Centre for Writing in Norwich which basically started off my whole career.
I love that it was a communications internship, so it was very much social media and marketing - which is what I now do.
Did you do any extracurricular activities or societies whilst at UEA?
I did some writing for a Norwich music magazine.
Reviewing gigs, interviewing bands, that kind of thing.
And do you have a favourite memory?
Not necessarily course related, but going to see Laura Marling at the at Norwich Cathedral.
That was amazing. Also, my mates: I lived with the same people in my first, second year and fourth year. We’re still close. We went to lots of gigs on campus – the Radio One Big Weekend was a highlight.
Can you explain a little about your current role and how it connects to your degree?
I'm the digital coordinator for Paul McCartney at MPL Communications.
This means I manage Paul McCartney’s website, social media channels, email database and any digital projects that he's involved in.
Last year I worked with the record label to promote his new album.
Before that I worked in social media at the Harry Potter brand at Warner Brothers, which was really interesting. I used my creative writing skills to write Instagram copy or a promotion email.
Having the international year abroad experience really gave me a head start too. My degree was multi-disciplinary: as well as writing and literature I studied history and politics and film studies so I have the skills to switch between all the different things I have to be involved in such as music, books and charity projects.
The university course also prepares you for time management and meeting deadlines.
While studying, did you have a clear idea of the job you wanted? And how did the job-hunting go?
I went for marketing or communications jobs in publishing.
The job hunt, if I'm honest, was awful for the first 11 months after graduating. I finally started a Harry Potter social media internship and then my career went from there.
What do you like about your current job?
I'm learning so many things because I'm quite new.
I've never worked in music before getting this job and getting to work on an album campaign last year was amazing, finding out how the whole process works. I'm now working on Paul McCartney’s Lyrics book out in November. There are so many interesting challenges.
How do you see your career progressing?
Currently in my job I feel like there's still more room to grow because I started it very fresh.
I needed to be inducted into the whole world of music last year. I feel I understand now where I'm at and how that all works, so maybe it's time for me to start putting my spin on it and putting out some of my ideas for innovating certain projects in the future.
So maybe stay here for a while, progress in this role and then perhaps something else in music in the future.
What advice do you have any advice for people applying to study American literature with creative writing?
I would say don't stress over your portfolio, don't try and imitate anyone.
Just be really authentic, because when you get to UEA you're going to learn to grow and have your own voice: that's what the whole writing part of the course is about. I would say read as much as possible in your first year and think about what modules you like and what you want to study in your second year. Also visit Norwich to get the feel of the city itself.
Would you do anything differently in your career or at UEA if you could do it again?
Maybe I would have chosen different second year modules and got involved a bit more with societies or similar on campus.
But apart from that, no, not really. I think it's one of those things where everything that I did led me to where I am today and I'm quite pleased with where I've ended up.