07 October 2022

Emily's BA History and PR Journey

Emily SoudersEmily Souders graduated from UEA in 2015 with a BA History degree. Since then, Emily has built a career in public relations working first for agency Golin, and then onto Riot Communications. Emily recently told us all about her UEA and PR journey.

Studying history also gave me a wide range of knowledge and interesting facts which has served me well for anecdotes at events - including discussing the fallout of the beheading of Charles I with a Booker Prize winner

When did you graduate and what have you been up to since you graduated? 

I graduated in 2015 and went straight into internships to try and get into the PR industry. I landed a permanent role at one of my internships, a global agency called Golin. I cut my teeth at Golin for almost three years on a large variety of consumer campaigns, everything from Magnum to Berocca to Britain's Next Top Model, before deciding I wanted to specialise in culture and entertainment. I moved to arts PR agency Riot Communications in 2018 and have been there ever since working on a mix of personal and product accounts including Moomins, Aardman, Peter James, London Review of Books and Mya-Rose Craig.

What was your ambition for your career when you started at UEA? Did you have a specific career path in mind?

I was one of the rare ones that came to uni with an idea of what they wanted to do after. I am not sure what sowed the seed of PR in my mind (maybe Ab Fab!) but it felt like the most creative job I could do with a salary - and I still think that after working in it for over 6 years. 

Tell me about your experiences studying at UEA.

My Mum dragged me to the open day! I was sure I wanted to leave Norwich, where I'd grown up, but none of the other unis I visited had felt right as the history courses were very fixed on what topics you would study. After hearing how open the history BA at UEA was, I knew it was the place for me and told Mum (begrudgingly) that she was right!

My favourite time on the course was my final year, I loved my specialist subject (Queen Vicky for life) and being able to focus on the passion for women's history in my dissertation. A passion I only discovered from having such an open course with so many module options. 

Did you participate in any clubs or societies while studying at UEA?

I did. I was part of History and Drama Soc. I led publicity for some of the Drama Soc shows and that gave me examples to talk about in internship interviews. It was very useful and I would recommend to any current students to think about how you can utilise the societies.

In your career what key tasks & skills are involved on a day-to-day basis, and what are/have been the most rewarding/challenging aspects?

What I love about PR is that every day is different, and you never stop learning, which is both the most rewarding and challenging aspect.
A typical day in PR can range from looking after talent at an event to writing copy or spending the day with a spreadsheet planning hours for your team. It's a wonderfully rewarding, interesting and stressful job and I love it.

Has your degree influenced your career? 

Absolutely, you're constantly told about the importance of "transferable skills" throughout your degree and I have found it to be true. I write a lot of copy and it has to be well researched and evidenced, which my history degree certainly prepared me for. Studying history also gave me a wide range of knowledge and interesting facts which has served me well for anecdotes at events - including discussing the fallout of the beheading of Charles I with a Booker Prize winner, much to the confusion of my colleagues! 

What personal or professional achievement are you most proud of?

Becoming a Senior Manager before the age of 30, leading the UK media for Magnum at the Cannes Film Festival only 18 months into my career and leading the launch of a new UK-wide literacy initiative in the UK called Read Hour in 2021.

What were your experiences of Norwich as a city? Is there anything in particular that you miss or have fond memories of?

I actually grew up in Norwich but going to UEA gave me a whole new perspective on it.

I love all of the independent cafes so much and always make sure to go to Franks and The Bicycle Shop when I am back. 

I also loved the proximity of all my friends. My friendship group lived across three houses in the city and it was usual to come home to a living room full of my friends - I miss that a lot!

Would you recommend studying at UEA? Why?

Absolutely, UEA gave me some of the best years of my life. I loved that I could balance my studies with a full life outside of uni, including starting a band during my time there! I got so much from my course and the freedom to really shape my own studies was invaluable.

UEA was also the first place my dyslexia was spotted and I was supported by UEA throughout my diagnosis. Understanding my dyslexia changed everything for me, especially going into a career where writing good copy is key.

Is there any advice you would give to current students, wishing to follow a similar career path to you?

Use your time at uni to get job experience wherever you can and also email people in the industry and ask to meet them for a coffee - we love to chat about our jobs and we know it is tough coming out of uni and starting out in your career. 

What is next for you?

I'm hoping to become a Campaigns Director at Riot next year.

Emily studied BA History at UEA.


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