From Aberdeen to Beano - Grace Balfour-HarleGrace Balfour-Harle

MA English & Legal Studies
From Aberdeen to Beano

Your Time at Aberdeen

Why did you choose to study at Aberdeen?
I visited the campus on an applicants day, and just loved the feeling of the campus, the old ivy on the buildings. It was also one of the only places that allowed me to study law in conjunction with English.

Why did you choose your particular course?
I had always been a voracious reader, so English was an obvious choice, but I loved learning about the legal and justice system in Modern Studies, so I wanted to study law, but not be a lawyer. Aberdeen was one of only two universities in Scotland that offered it as a combination.

What did you most enjoy about your time at Aberdeen? Did you have any particularly memorable student experiences?
The people I met were probably the best bit of my time at Aberdeen; I made lifelong friends in my societies, courses and time abroad.

If you were involved in any clubs and societies as a student, what did you enjoy most about them and what benefit do you think they have for students?
I was heavily involved in the Dance Society as a teacher, committee member and competition team member, and in the Show Choir (or Glee Club as it was formally known) as choreographer. I was also a contributing writer with the student newspaper, The Gaudie, and was Depute Editor of both the Life and Style section and the Features in my third and fourth years. Societies were hugely important to me in developing skills outside of my degree and I think every student should get involved in them, or an equivalent.

If talking to a group of prospective students, what advice would you give them to help them make the most of their time at the University of Aberdeen?
I would tell them to make the most of this time - it's a time where you can try and fail, and make mistakes, and there is a support system around you - this is especially true in regards to societies.

Did you undertake any co-curricular activities while at Aberdeen, e.g. Aberdeen Internships, Career Mentoring, STAR Award?
I took part in the STAR Award in my fourth year, where I was upgraded to a gold award from silver. I also achieved a 500 hour Saltire Award for my work with the societies and the charity Active Schools Aberdeen. I also achieved a Kings Award for my work in Dance Society.

If while at Aberdeen you took part in a foreign exchange, e.g. Erasmus or Study Abroad, where did you go and what did you do?
I went on a study abroad year at the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA.

Your Time After Aberdeen

What was the title of your first job after graduating from Aberdeen?
Editorial Assistant at DC Thomson.

What does your role involve?
I work directly on the Beano comic where I edit scripts, collate artwork, proof pages, and write feature pages. I also write the weekly blog post for the issue and have also written the occasional script. I am the point person for several characters including Dangerous Dan, Billy Whizz, Calamity James and Gnasher and Gnipper. I also organise the letters page, competition administration and the weekly Beano Boss competition.

Please briefly describe the journey from your first job after graduating to where you are now.
I am currently in my first job after graduating, but I did get my masters immediately after graduating, which allowed me to get some real-world publishing experience through placements, print a book and build an app.

Was your degree at Aberdeen essential for getting to where you are now? If so, in what way?
Having an undergraduate in English and Legal Studies gave me a unique perspective on publishing and opened many doors for me, and also gave me a point of view, which is essential for any future roles I may have. I also spoke about my time at Aberdeen during my interview for this role, so it was directly helpful.

One Top Tip

Get involved and get passionate - if you follow your passions, opportunities will follow.