Graduate profile: Erica Williams

English and American Literature graduate, Erica Williams, tells us about what she’s been up to since leaving Kent in 2010.

What are you doing now? 

I am an English Subject Leader based in London and run a freelance marketing network called Withers & Sloane. We specialise in digital marketing, marketing strategy and campaign management. I divide my time between leading the team in all aspects of English, delivering bespoke CPD sessions and teaching, and managing freelance projects for clients in various sectors including, but not explicitly, hospitality, media, law and high-end spirits brands (which does come with obvious perks).

What attracted you to your course, and to Kent?

My initial choice had been to study joint honours, but I preferred English, so I appealed to transition to study English full-time. I found the seminars and lectures so engaging.

Kent is an obvious choice because of its historical and cultural appeal. Geographically speaking, it is also close to both London and the coast, which ensures an excellent balance during downtime.

Which aspects of your degree did you enjoy the most, and why?

I loved all of the modules I studied, but in particular Postcolonial literature was my favourite module. It enabled me to explore the previously unheard voices of those dealing with the aftermath of colonisation. My values shifted, and it helped to reshape my thinking by challenging my values and understanding in ways I had never thought to address before. 

What impressed you most about our academic staff?

The staff at Kent are genuinely committed to their craft. They’re engaging, passionate and vibrant people. The staff were also incredibly accommodating. 

Which skills/knowledge did you learn on your course that you use most now in your career?

Leading English requires a deeper level of knowledge, generally. I am most passionate about ensuring people are confident in their delivery of the subject, their skills and their understanding. I love the training and coaching aspects of the roles. Within marketing, I have to make succinct, clear and impactful pitches to land new clients. Seminar performances helped me to refine my exploratory talk and develop my presentational skills, especially in the presence of experts!

Are you still in touch with any of your fellow students?

Absolutely. Many of my closest friends are from my course or halls. We’ve remained close over a decade later. We speak daily via group chat, but check-in at least once per month and meet up for birthdays and other significant life events.  

Did you undertake any work experience whilst at Kent? What did you do? Did you find it was helpful in your studies and has it benefited your career to date?

Throughout my time at Kent, I worked almost full-time to support myself. Initially, as a sales assistant, transitioning into Education in my third year. I found the latter role through Job Shop, Kent’s recruitment agency. Having always stated ‘I will never be a teacher’, found myself working with teenagers with complex emotional needs and loving it. It was my passion for four years before moving to London.

Could you describe a typical day in your current role?

My roles are incredibly varied. In Education, I divided my time between teaching, mapping and rewriting aspects of the curriculums, researching theories, authors or innovative pedagogies/methodologies, creating and refining assessment frameworks and completing funding applications.

In marketing all days differ and may include designing social media content in line with a brand’s fundamental values, analysing the UI of a website, auditing a brand’s current marketing efforts, research, creating detailed campaign plans, analysing data against the ROI of campaigns, refining copy or liaising with professionals to deliver work packages for clients. Having a clear understanding of the business case, managing projects and working within budgets is essential.

In both roles, I write detailed action plans and stick to them. That way, I can break each project into manageable chunks. It helps me to stay organised and efficient.

What are your future plans/aspirations?

I aim to study for a Masters, and I am currently compiling research on my area of focus, refining my statement of intent. As for professionally, I am so content with my roles. They’re challenging, varied and rewarding, which are essential aspects of being passionate about a vocation.

What is your favourite memory of Kent? 

Summer Ball in my final year was fantastic. Kent’s Student Union is great. Their commitment to the students’ wellbeing and the events they run are excellent. Everyone was in high spirits, the weather was vibrant and the atmosphere was quintessentially that of Kent. 

What advice would you give to somebody thinking of coming to Kent?

Take your studies seriously and always make the most of the support on offer. Use the time provided to meet with your seminar leaders effectively. In many cases, I did not use these wisely, which meant I passed up opportunities to improve my essays and seminar performances. I regret that considerably. Were I to return to studying; my attitude would be different. 

How would you describe your time at Kent in three words?

Uplifting, enlightening and engaging.