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Alexandra Kent BA English and Philosophy

Account Executive at a PR consultancy

Alexandra Kent's Photo

Hi, I'm Alexandra Kent and I studied BA English and Philosophy within Humanities at the University of Southampton.

Supported by the knowledgeable, brilliant faculty, I learnt how to think analytically, to justify my arguments with sound reasoning and approach discussion with an open mind – a skill that has been invaluable in allowing me to hold my own in meetings and consult clients strategically. I think, therefore I am employable!

Alexandra is a Senior Account Executive at Man Bites Dog, the most award-winning business-to-business PR consultancy in the UK.

Why did you choose to study philosophy?

For me, its appeal was threefold. An earnest A-Level student with a curious mind, I was keen to try to understand the nature of this world we live in. I wanted an intellectual challenge and to be able to question the ideas and intuitions that many of us take for granted. And finally, I decided that the very point of university was to broaden my horizons and take risks. Every Tom, Dick and Harry has poured over Pride and Prejudice, but how many people can say they’ve read Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason?!

Why did you choose to study at Southampton?

The Southampton campuses are green, sprawling and have a lovely atmosphere, not to mention the fantastic Students’ Union – a social centre with a catalogue of opportunities to get involved. The university’s proximity to London as well as the South coast was also very appealing.

The excellent research credentials of the English and philosophy departments and range of module options were a massive draw for me. Studying at Southampton, I knew I would be taught by the very best academia has to offer – experts at the cutting edge of philosophical thought.

What did you like most about your degree programme?

The breadth of module options on offer was astonishing and the flexibility of the programme structure meant that I could select a range of philosophy modules – including analytic and continental – as well as options from other disciplines.

Contrary to popular belief, I think that one of the most positive things about a Humanities degree is that it doesn’t lead directly to a particular career. I enjoyed the luxury of flexing my intellectual muscles in topics I was interested in, rather than compulsory modules which were necessary to tick a recruitment box.

Which were your favourite branches of philosophy?

Aesthetics in general and environmental aesthetics in particular were – and still are! – my favourite branches of philosophy. Some of the most interesting, and contentious, seminars were devoted to discussion of what makes something beautiful? Or ugly? The concept of disinterested aesthetic appreciation is one I’m still grappling with.

What was the best thing about living and studying in Southampton?

Southampton is a brilliant place to be a student. The city is equipped with everything you could wish for – from bars, restaurants and clubs, to fantastic live music and cultural events. During my time in the Southampton, I really enjoyed the flexibility of spending time in Portswood’s student hub – with its multitude of takeaways and diverse nightlife – and being a short bus ride from the city centre’s shopping centre and theatre.

In terms of academics, Southampton University is also second to none. Particularly useful were the dedicated Humanities library and computer rooms at Avenue campus – always useful for the occasional late-night deadline or between lecture swot! Also, the philosophy lecturers’ open-door policy made it so simple to chat through an essay problem or just ask a quick question.

Has studying philosophy helped you in your career?

Studying philosophy has equipped me with many of the tools necessary in the world of work. In fact, I can’t think of a single thing I learnt which hasn’t been both applicable and useful.

Working in a group to produce and deliver presentations in class gave me confidence and experience, which I now utilise in pitching for new business. Learning how to write a good essay was also key – I was encouraged to explain complex philosophical ideas clearly and concisely, developing a no-nonsense copywriting style that I now use every day, from client emails to editorial. And of course, philosophy is about grappling with life’s big questions.

Supported by the knowledgeable, brilliant faculty, I learnt how to think analytically, to justify my arguments with sound reasoning and approach discussion with an open mind – a skill that has been invaluable in allowing me to hold my own in meetings and consult clients strategically.

Are you still interested in philosophical ideas?

philosophy is not a subject which leaves you. My class of 2010 colleagues and I still find ourselves debating objective versus subjective morality over a beer! In fact, a good debate is always on the cards when we’re all back together.

As I’ve indicated in a previous answer, environmental aesthetics is an absolute passion. I wrote my undergraduate dissertation on the topic and so I always look out for the artists and philosophers cited in my work and keep up with the latest developments.

Would you recommend studying the subject to other people?

Without question.

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