Looking beyond the arts and sciences divide with interdisciplinary work

Elena graduated from Bristol in 2022 with a degree in English Literature and is now a Communications Consultant at Bright Carbon.

We caught up with Elena about looking beyond the arts and sciences divide with interdisciplinary work.

“It can feel as though there‘s a massive gap between an arts career and a science career, and once you pick a side, you’re stranded there.

The popularity of Sylvia Plath’s fig tree analogy shows just how many people feel like the choices they make close off all other potential futures. I definitely felt this when I was choosing my degree.

There was a sense of finality – that this was my specialism and other routes were now closed. After a lot of back and forth and deliberation, I chose ‘arts’ and studied Art Foundation and then English Literature at University – and I thought that was the end of that for other subjects.

“But, once I started my job search, I realised pretty quickly that the door to other disciplines never really closes.”

So many jobs require you to work in an interdisciplinary way across all sorts of subjects. In fact, it’s only really in university and school that the disciplines are broken up distinctly.

A great example of where the lines get blurred between arts and sciences is within the consultancy industry – it’s how I went from an English graduate to working with biochemists, lawyers, charity workers, engineers, medics and more.

Embracing the Generalist Identity:

After your degree, it can feel like your knowledge is so specific that you have to look for jobs in your field to be successful. It can be scary to seek out work in a field you haven’t studied in – but don’t be afraid to put yourself out on a limb if a position sounds interesting to you!

My current job as a communications consultant at a presentation design agency was advertised on the university careers site with the description that the ideal candidate would have studied life sciences – and here I am, nearly two years into the position as an English grad.

Ultimately, every single industry needs people who can analyse information and clearly communicate. Working at BrightCarbon, I create clear, compelling and persuasive presentations, eLearning, animations, infographics, and much more for all sorts of companies across the world.

So, if you’re feeling like you’re a bit of a generalist, you have an interest in loads of different industries, and you like analysing but also creating, then a position like mine could be the perfect fit.

Top tips for your job hunt:

  1. Don’t rule things out: You might feel underqualified for a position, but it’s always worth a shot. Don’t underestimate the value of the university careers site mycareer, it’s where I found this job, and it makes the job search so much easier. Every job listed there will be suitable for a graduate.
  2. Send an application anyway: If you’re interested in a company, but the application deadline has passed or they aren’t advertising at the moment, enquire anyway ! The worst that can happen is you don’t get a response – and best case you’ll get a great opportunity. See our resource on speculative applications on mycareer.
  3. Show your passions off: Strong academic performance is great, but having relevant special interests to highlight in your cover letter will show you have an active passion for the position.
  4. Understand the jargon: Once you start the job search, you’ll come across lots of strange and wonderful job titles. Study the descriptions and learn which titles sound interesting to you then use them as key search terms.

If you take anything away from this post it should be to never feel like you’ve trapped yourself into one career path. Your skills are interdisciplinary, and your career can be too!