Emily Lewis-DunnI am 24 years old and come from Marple, a small town, on the edge of Greater Manchester. I attended Marple Hall School and later went on to read American Studies at Sussex University with a year in the US at George Washington University in Washington DC. The year abroad was undoubtedly quite life changing; on a personal level I became a lot more spontaneous and self-determined. During that year I attended a large civil rights demonstration, got involved in street volunteering helping, made loads of new and varied friends and travelled round the country on planes, trains (well, mainly greyhound buses!) and automobiles….all on a shoe string! I went with a 20kg suitcase and I returned with a 20kg suitcase!

On a wider level, I became more interested in global issues, especially those affecting inequality of opportunity and I became particularly interested in the history of the civil rights movement and the role of women within it. When I returned to Sussex I did my dissertation on ‘The Identity Politics of African American Women and the Rise and Fall of Black is Beautiful 1968-2013’.

Like a lot of my contemporaries, I spent my first year after graduating struggling to find a full-time position; I worked part-time in a cafe and a bakery and then later I was lucky enough to work on a short term project as the archive researcher for a documentary film called ‘Hustlers Convention’. The film tells the story of the making of the seminal album; Hustlers Convention and the life of Jalal Nuriddin, its creator; his place in history of the civil rights movement, as one of The Last Poets and as ‘the grandfather of rap’. Towards the end of this project and as a finale, I went down to London to help film an event at the Jazz Cafe in Camden where Jalal recited extracts from the album.

It was whilst I was down in London that I took the opportunity to do some job hunting. It was hard to know where to start, I hadn’t done a vocational degree but I had various skills (and interests) which I knew would be transferable and I wanted to be as open minded as possible. I met a great recruitment agent who said she thought I might be suited to a role in Outdoor Advertising. I didn’t really know what that was but within a couple of weeks (and two interviews later) I had quit my part-time jobs and was about to head down to London – Dick Whittington style – to start work at Clear Channel!

In my present role as a media executive at Clear Channel, I assist the agency and trading teams in all aspects of their day-to-day work; this covers a broad spectrum of work and can include anything from attending meetings with agencies and other specialists in the field to creating targeted quick pitches to sell short term deals. Throughout school and university I was actively involved in many theatre productions and so I suppose the chance to do presentations brings out the performer in me! Clear Channel really encourage employees to think of new ideas, or develop old ideas, to help the business and this is something I particularly like; I think it helps foster creativity and promotes a real team spirit. As part of this process, I have been writing a weekly newsletter, which is a summary of clients advertising in the Press. I have really enjoyed writing and collating the info for the newsletter – so much so that I can regularly be found at my desk at 7.30am surrounded by a mass of news clippings – I think this is something that would surprise, and even shock, my former student self! I really love working with the team at Clear Channel, we often go out on client events in the evenings but, in spite of this, we’re perfectly happy to socialise outside of work as well.

At my first interview at Clear Channel, I remember I was asked what drives me and then, as now, I think I would have to say that there are a number of things that spur me on. Work is a large part of most people’s life, I think the more you throw yourself into a task, the more you’ll enjoy it, so the happier and more exciting your life will be. I also want to be known as someone who does a first class job and is well liked. I think people often assume that the way to the top is through aggression and self centeredness and I hope I can show people that you can get there by being a decent person. Finally, money is obviously a factor because it opens doors to new life experiences and opportunities and it means you can help your family however, It certainly isn’t my main focus.

I think if I was to have a careers chat with my younger self, I would say ‘Always be open to new ideas, try to say ‘yes’ as often as possible, you will open up opportunities and have a lot of fun in the process – and finally ‘be nice”.