From student to staff with Devon Harris

From student to staff with Devon Harris  name

Class of 2019, Creative Writing alumnus, Devon Harris, joined the University of Cumbria staff as a Marketing & Recruitment Assistant during the Covid pandemic. Devon shares, in their own words, what UoC meant and what their new marketing role involves. 

Before coming to the University of Cumbria, I was a small book blogger from the North East. I spent my spare time reading and writing, so when it came to choosing my degree the University of Cumbria’s English Literature and Creative Writing seemed perfect. The modules included literature from Shakespeare to Keats to Woolf. We’d be crafting our own short stories, blogs, and poetry to experiment with familiar and new styles and discover our niche. 

By the time I visited the Lancaster campus, I had already applied. I wasn’t familiar with the city but fell in love when I saw the historic stone architecture and open green spaces, especially on campus. When we arrived for the Applicant Open Day, the Student Ambassadors were welcoming and kind, helping us navigate campus. While here, I got the chance to sit down with one of my lecturers, discuss our interest in literature, and even take part in group exercises with fellow classmates. The guaranteed small class sizes and personal approach really appealed to me. That night, I made Cumbria my firm choice.  

Clearly, I made the right decision as when I received results lower than the conditions of my offer, the University of Cumbria still accepted me. I am forever thankful that they did! 

During my time here, I adored my lecturer Penny Bradshaw. Whenever I felt like I was losing focus, her lectures on Wordsworth, the French Revolution, and female Romantics re-inspired me. As my personal tutor, her support outside the classroom helped me balance my studies with a part-time job, work experience, personal projects, social life, and mental health.  

For me, there are a number of important things I learned during my time here:  

  • How to craft plays and poetry and develop a creative project step by step.  
  • That my words have worth and my thoughts deserve to be shared.  
  • I realised that I want to do everything and there are systems in place to help me explore that. Whether it’s through tutors, the SU, societies, volunteer opportunities, or employment. 
  • I became more comfortable in myself which helps me explore my craft. I’ve written plays and poetry about my sexuality and blogs about my disabilities and struggles with mental health. I learned how to listen to myself and articulate my needs and struggles in a creative way. 

Penny was the tutor for our third-year Romanticism class where we went on a field trip to Grasmere and Dove Cottage. I will never forget what it felt like walking around Dorothy Wordsworth’s wildflower garden and holding a first edition Frankenstein.  

The brilliant thing about Lancaster is that you get to mingle with students from two different Universities. Through work and living arrangements, I met some amazing people who have really helped me come out of my shell and experience more of what the city has to offer. When it comes to my classmates, a number of us keep in touch over Instagram and LinkedIn, cheerleading each other’s success and creative projects.  

The University of Cumbria was truly the first place where I could explore who I am. I was given the space to develop as a person, there were plenty of opportunities to meet new people, and work experience placements locally and nationally that helped me build my skills. Because of the University, I have gained experience at Penguin Random House, digital marketing agency The Creative Branch, and even Keswick Film Festival. 

Currently, I am back at the University of Cumbria as a Marketing & Recruitment Assistant. I specialise in working on the university website, developing pages and content, writing blogs, and supporting the outreach team.  

When I started my studies, I knew marketing was the avenue for me. My years of writing and web design as a book blogger helped me develop natural marketing skills. Although I didn’t have a particular specialism in mind, my time crafting stories throughout my degree helped me develop a compassionate frame of mind, which certainly helps when marketing to students during a global pandemic. Going forward, I would love to dip my toes in the video game or publishing industries, which with Cumbria’s connections is certainly a possibility! 

For anyone still deciding whether they should join the University of Cumbria, go for it! This is truly the place where dreams come true.  And, for anyone looking to get into marketing, there is no single route to take. No matter what you study, you will learn transferable skills that translate into so many work environments. But, it’s always worth going out of your way to broaden your perspective and skill set. Volunteer with a charity, apply for an internship with an international company, and take every opportunity to do something new and different.