Writing for work: why don’t students know that copywriting is a viable career?

As an English student, you’d hope that university job fairs would be filled with journalists, freelance writers, publishing houses and more.

The reality, though, is that few exhibitors offer writing-related work.

The majority of job fair stalls are:

  • Law companies looking for your soul
  • Teaching charities wanting to challenge your patience
  • Further study asking for you to take on more debt
  • Conglomerates asking you fight against a million applicants for an internship
  • Charities wanting you to volunteer.

My hyperbole aside, these are all valuable industries and worthy careers, but they aren’t necessarily what you’d consider the ‘go to’ for an English Studies graduate – a student who spent 3 years or more learning about writing, its meaning and its grammar.

Copywriting – the invisible profession?

Notice how I didn’t even mention copywriters at the beginning?

That’s because copywriting was unknown to me. I thought copywriting was just sales orientated; something a marketer might do within their job role.

But then I was put in touch with a copywriter for Vodafone, thanks to a friend from an internship. If it wasn’t for my friend I probably would not be where I am now – working as a full-time copywriter within a technology company, making excellent use of my degree.

My experience with Vodafone was the first time I’d seen that my degree, consisting of literary dissection and linguistic study, might actually translate into a job that required the very skills I was honing at university.

Why aren’t students told about opportunities in copywriting?

I wasn’t the only one wondering about my future. My fellow English students also had to figure out their next steps. Many of my friends volunteered for charities, fought for internships, continued their studies – or went into teaching. Only a handful are forging careers as wordsmiths.

It doesn’t make sense that the copywriting industry is invisible at the point when young, talented, educated  and eager writers are looking for work. Copywriting becomes an unexplored avenue for many students.

But the world will always need copy and so it will always need writers… Where better to find them than university?


2nd June 2016

Ben Lloyd

I think there is a certain intellectual snobbery around copywriting, with many academics considering it to be a lesser skill than literature. But then copywriters tend to eat a lot better (and more regularly) than novelists, so what do they know?

Funnily enough, I wrote about that once too!

3rd June 2016

Peter Rylands

I was lucky enough to have a tutor based in linguistics, rather than literature, and so possibly thought a bit more logically.

As for eating, I am very much enjoying the promotion from my student diet thanks to discovering that copywriting pays!

3rd June 2016

Leif Kendall

I didn’t hear about copywriting until I was in my late twenties. And only then it was because I started writing copy for my employer, and then had to try to figure out what this thing was called!

I think PCN can do a lot in this area, and try to increase awareness about copywriting as another option for students with a love of language.

25th June 2016

Charlotte Ford

I had never heard the term copywriter at all until I was talking to my partner (he’s a graphic designer), as he’d hired one and I studied Creative & Professional Writing at University!
At University they boxed this type of work as advertising, and frankly all the ‘advertising’ jobs you get thrown at you as a graduate tend to be telesales, so I never got to a point to professionally come across it.
I wish I had known about copywriting much sooner, and I’m so grateful to have stumbled across this website. Thanks!

1st January 2017

Gareth Pert

I have only ever known freelance copywriters. Maybe a whole world is out there for me. However, if much of the profession is freelance, it seems unlikely anybody would want to invite more people into the competition.

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