Becky Read

English and Media BA (Hons)

When deciding what to study at university, Becky knew that she loved both English and Media and found a degree at BCU that offered both. Now, she’s a PR and Communications Executive for Midlands Air Ambulance Charity. 

“I always knew I wanted to study at university, but it wasn't until I was 14 and picking my GCSE options at school that I realised what field of study interested me the most. I had always enjoyed Literacy and English in my younger years and have always had a passion for reading. I'd also taken a keen interest in magazines, and the behind-the-scenes elements of my favourite films. When picking my options, I chose the subject of Media Studies, which I really enjoyed.

When it came to my A Levels, I again opted for English Language and Literature and Media Studies as two of my three subjects. At the end of my A Levels, I knew university would be the next step for me. BCU was the closest university that offered a joint honours course in the two subjects I had loved and studied for so long.

But as I was taking my A-Level exams, and throughout the summer between College and University, my dad became severely unwell, which did affect my grades a little and I was concerned I wouldn't get the required UCAS points to get into BCU. Fortunately, I managed to pull it off though, and BCU really was the perfect choice with. being so close to home given my dad's ill health.

My course gave me a grounding in different types of media and how audiences interact with them. It also gave me an insight into the fundamentals of promotional culture and helped me decide on what I wanted to do after my studies

During my course, I also undertook some work experience with a local agency in Digbeth, Birmingham’s creative quarter, which I thoroughly enjoyed. I started at BCU thinking that I wanted to teach afterwards, but in actual fact, PR was a better fit for me.

My proudest achievement at BCU was being awarded the Rebecca Moore Award for Outstanding Work and Achievement in English and Media. It was presented at the School of Media end of year show during my final year. I was jointly awarded it alongside a good friend, and it was named lovingly by the School of English to remember a student who we sadly and suddenly lost at the end of our first year.

Since graduating from BCU in July 2017, my experience has been varied across different sectors and industries. I started my first role at a small marketing agency the day after my graduation ceremony. I struggled initially to settle into a new routine; going from a full-time student with a part-time retail job to being in full-time work was a shock to the system. I also became ill during my time there, which had an impact on me mentally. The agency's clients were mostly from engineering and manufacturing backgrounds, which aren't really fields that I had ever been interested in and I realised within ten months that this wasn't the role for me.

Then, I was fortunate enough to be offered a role that was much closer to home, based back in Birmingham, so an easier and shorter commute, with NHS England. This meant I was no longer agency-side, I’d moved from the private to the public sector and taken on an in-house communications role. After 16 months in the role, the organisation was going through a restructuring process, so I started to search around for other roles, as I felt it was the right time to look for a role with more responsibility.

This is when I stumbled upon my current role with Midlands Air Ambulance Charity, which again meant a shift from one sector to another whilst still retaining some grounding in health communications. I split my time between working from home and in the office, and the range of tasks and jobs to do varies and offers an exciting work life.

Nowadays, I’m a PR and Communications Executive for Midlands Air Ambulance Charity. I have been working here since October 2019. Not long after starting, we were plunged into lockdown, which was a challenge, being so new to the charity, having only been there four months before working practices changed so drastically.

Most days, I will check what missions the crews have been out on, to see if any could produce media enquiries and check our daily press coverage. I'll then schedule posts on social media and draft press releases to promote the fundraising we do and inform the public of all the campaigns we are working on. I also brief our design agency on any artwork requirements for event signage and promotional material.

In this job, I have the amazing opportunity to work with our crew at our airbases when we have high-profile media enquiries from the likes of BBC Midlands Today, or when we are filming a patient case study video.

Some days, even on weekends, we hold some of our biggest fundraising events including a bike ride out and festival with 3,500 motorcyclists taking part, and our recognition awards and charity ball, both of which I will invite celebrity VIPs and charity ambassadors too.

Whilst I still sometimes feel like an imposter and that perhaps I'm just lucky with some of my ideas, I have to tell myself that I studied hard and got involved in lots of extracurricular activities during my time at BCU which has equipped me with the skills to do my job.

My time at BCU really helped me grow in confidence and also accept who I am. Since graduating, I have built on this growth and continued to push myself professionally and personally. I'm now confident in my abilities and also in myself that I am enough as a person, and that I am capable of achieving my dreams.

My proudest achievement since graduating has to be securing my role at Midlands Air Ambulance Charity, every day I have to pinch myself that I get to do what I love for such an amazing lifesaving cause. I'm also surrounded by an amazing work family which provides a really inspiring, engaging and fun atmosphere to work and grow in.

My advice to current BCU students would be to just be yourself and get involved with extracurricular activities. This will give you the chance to meet people who are not on your course and can also open doors for potential work experience and even graduate employment opportunities.

My advice to fellow BCU graduates would be don't just go for the very first opportunity that presents itself, it may have its positives in that you can start gaining experience and earning better money sooner, but it can also lead to mental health troubles and feeling out of your depth. If it doesn't feel like it's the right role for you during the application and interview process, it probably won't be the right role for you at the employment stage.

I AM BCU means that BCU changed me, for the better in every possible way. It means my confidence, skills, experiences and knowledge are by-products of my time at BCU and because of that, BCU will always be a part of me. BCU will always have a special place in my heart for being the place where I was given the opportunity and support to find out who the real Becky is and what she really wants from life.”