Katie Russell

English Language & Literature

Katie is a voluntary sector manager who graduated in English language and literature. While studying, Katie was the Leeds branch organiser of the international V-Day campaign to end violence against women and girls.

What is your current profession?

Project Manager for Barnsley Sexual Abuse & Rape Crisis Helpline (BSARCH)

Describe your role.

I have responsibility for the day-to-day management of BSARCH, which is a small voluntary organisation and registered charity, run by women, providing support to people whose lives have been affected by sexual violence. I line manage a staff team of three, oversee the development and implementation of policies and procedures, seek out opportunities for funding and submit funding applications, oversee the planning, monitoring and evaluation of our services, raise awareness of our work through networking and publicity, and manage the finances.

Describe your career progression.

While I was still a student, I became involved with the international V-Day campaign to end violence against women and girls, when I went to audition for a part in a production of Eve Ensler's The Vagina Monologues. This inspired me to run for the sabbatical Women's Officer post on Leeds University Union's Executive Committee, which sadly no longer exists. I won the election and spent a very happy and productive year gaining all sorts of valuable skills in areas such as strategic planning, staff recruitment and management, and equality and diversity.

Towards the end of my term, I started applying for jobs in the specialist women's sector and was really fortunate to secure my current post almost straight away. I've been working at BSARCH for nearly four years now.

What did you do whilst studying that helped pave the way into your chosen career?

My involvement with V-Day included organising and attending a range of fundraising and awareness-raising events around violence against women. This raised my consciousness to the enduring social injustice of gender inequality and inspired me to continue working towards its eradication.

What skills and attributes did you develop from your course?

The English course at the University of Leeds was much more fantastic than I could have imagined.
I really, perhaps quite naively, chose it simply because I love reading books but, far more than that,
I spent the three years exploring history, politics, religion, philosophy, sociology and the world through the beautiful medium of literature. My IT, written communications and organisational skills also improved no end. Contrary to popular opinion, I feel quite strongly that the skills you gain from a high quality English degree are transferable to a wide range of different careers and will stay with you for life.

What skills and attributes did you gain from your co-curricular activities?

I think I gained a tremendous amount simply from the diverse range of people I met when I came to university. Getting involved with drama and campaigning also gave my confidence and assertiveness a necessary boost.

What advice would you have for students studying today?

Make the most of all the free, discounted and cheap services, activities and experiences on offer to you while you can, especially at your students' union. I was in my third year before I started fully appreciating the range of societies, clubs, free talks, plays, gigs etc. that were going on quite literally all the time. You'll never have such a wealth of opportunities to enrich yourself so readily available or easily accessible