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Abby Coombes

Graduated 2020

Portrait image of Abby Coombes

Finish this sentence: English at Solent is for you if ...

You are passionate about literature, open-minded, and enjoy and value a small community (both the uni as a whole and the course).

What was the best thing about your course?

The lecturers genuinely care about their students and want to see them achieve their full potential. They put so much into their lectures and seminars to make them an intellectually stimulating experience. And they were also really good at letting us know about creative writing competitions and other work experience opportunities in the industry.

How did your studies prepare you for a career in the industry?

Throughout the three years, there were several units that helped us acquire the skills required to work in publishing and other related industries. The work experience unit in the third year and the Business of Independent Publishing unit in the second year proved invaluable – and the skills I picked up are transferable into many careers, not just publishing. Many of our seminars have stuck with me, too, because they were thought-provoking and a safe space for students to express themselves and be heard. In fact, the same can be said for all our lectures and seminars! And the Business of Independent Publishing unit springs to mind again, because it was an eye-opening experience and gave me the opportunity to lead a group and work within the Southampton community.

My friends from Solent are friends for life. I also left with new life skills and career-orientated skills.

What was life like as a Solent student?

I enjoyed being a Solent student – both life in halls and in a student house. Southampton really is a city of culture. Coming from a very rural town, living in a city with everything on my doorstep or within walking distance was amazing!

What’s your favourite Solent memory?

The nights out with my housemates and friends. Also the opportunity to go to Paris in 2019 on Solent English’s Literary Grand Tour.

What do you wish you’d known then that you know now?

As daunting and scary as university seems, it will turn out to be the best experience of your life. Look for the lessons and opportunities in everything – everything happens for a reason.

Why does English matter?

English is so much more than just reading and writing. So many other subjects overlap, such as history, philosophy, media studies and psychology, to name a few. English matters because you can learn so much, not just outwardly by looking at society, but inwardly by questioning and reflecting on yourself and having conversations with academics.

What tips would you give to someone wanting a career in English?

Persevere and make connections wherever possible, and take opportunities to gain experience and meet people – you never know where it could lead.