Saturday, 16 January 2010

ASNaC: a USP

Velda Elliott writes:

If there’s one thing that Dragon’s Den and The Apprentice have taught us, it’s the need for a USP: a Unique Selling Point. Once you’ve been an ASNaC, that’s never a problem again!
After graduating, I trained to be a secondary English teacher (which I chose over History because the pay was better – either would have been an option); not an eyebrow has ever been raised that I studied Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic rather than English Literature, from the day I interviewed for the PGCE to my most recent promotion. In fact, in many ways it made me a better prospect for schools, because I had studied linguistics as part of my degree, and too few English teachers know the first thing about teaching English Language, a subject which is increasing in popularity all the time. It made me stand out from the crowds too – the interviewer might not be able to remember the whole name of the course, but they’ll remember you were the person who studied the interesting subject. It’s not just in teaching that this is an advantage – careers for arts students tend not to be subject specific, and being the person who read something out of the ordinary gives you a little extra shine.

People are fascinated by the fact that I studied ASNaC; it’s a conversation starter, often when they approach me, having heard about it from someone else. Esoteric and at the same time immensely interesting, it’s the subject that everyone knows a little about, but never enough. They’re always ready to talk about it, find out what it was, why you chose it. It’s a subject that never fails to impress, and raise a smile.

I’ve never regretted choosing a subject that spoke to me from the pages of the prospectus, that allowed me to combine my passions of language, literature and history and made me part of a tight-knit department where you really are taught by the best in the world. The uniqueness of the experience was brought home to me very recently. I now spend my time in an Education department in ‘another’ university, training in social sciences. As part of a very small research group, when one of the bigwigs dropped out of a post-conference dinner, I was bumped up to attend. The senior Professor told me what an honour this was, and how lucky I must consider myself, to be able to sit at a table with some of the top names in my field, to be able to speak to them, as a mere doctoral student! But as an undergraduate I was not only taught by the top names, I knew them, chatted to them and went to many such events, meeting most of the people I was citing in my bibliographies. I took it for granted, but really it happens only in ASNaC.

ASNaC is a not-very-secret-society, with members all over the world. It’s my USP, and I’m proud of it!

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