Why Success Doesn’t Have to Wait Until After Your Degree


It sometimes feels like there is a formula for being successful. Get good A Levels, get a 2.1 at uni and then climb the career ladder until you reach the top. But what if it’s not as simple as that? What if there are ways to be successful through out your life, way before you’ve ticked all of those boxes? Save Our Students decided to challenge the norm and seek out people who’ve had great achievements during their time at university, or even without attending a college.

Our first port of call was Liverpool, England, to a project known as In the Red. In The Red magazine has been running for fifteen years. It’s a project funded by the students of LJMU, specifically the ones who study Creative Writing. Each year, several new editors (or ‘Reditors’ as they are known) are selected to take on the task of hosting the new In the Red season, complete with a published magazine and various open mic nights. I spoke to Laura Hughes-Jones, 21, who during her third year has been on the In the Red squad.

‘My role is to run the social media and hype up the events,’ Laura told us. ‘The best part of the job is being able to listen to all of the new fresh talent that the LJMU students have to offer during the open mic nights and the editing process.’

But any job has it’s downfalls, and it’s not always easy to be in a position with so much responsibility. ‘In the Red can be quite stressful. There’s a lot of reading to be done, and we have to make some harsh decisions, meaning sometimes there’s some disagreement amongst the editors. We want to produce the best magazine possible, and that sometimes means fighting for a piece you’re passionate about, or disagreeing with a majority. All in all, it’s not an easy job, especially with other university commitments to deal with, but being an editor is an opportunity I’m grateful to have had.’

In the Red is an incredible feat in itself, and it’s famous amongst LJMU students, but we had a chance to speak to someone who is famous globally too. At age 21, Leigh Ansell has shot to success on the popular writing platform, Wattpad. She’s one of the best known writers on the site, specialising in teen fiction under the username @leigh_. She told us what it’s like to be a part of the Wattpad experience, and to have success at such a young age.

‘Writing is not only my creative outlet, but also gives me a sense of achievement outside studying,’ Leigh, who is a third year student at Birmingham said, ‘It started off as a hobby, but after starting posting on Wattpad on a whim 5 years ago, I now feel like I’m at the beginning of a career. The opportunities that Wattpad has given me are extraordinary. I’ve spoken on Q&A panels at conventions, I’ve been published in an anthology by Simon & Schuster, I’ve flown across the Atlantic to sign books in another continent. And on top of all that, I’ve met some of the most incredible people in my life. Writing has offered me opportunities like nothing else, and the self-confidence it has built in the process makes it worth each hour I spend curled up with my laptop, typing away.’

Leigh is certainly one of the most accomplished writers the site has to offer, and her efforts have earned her a following of over 120,000 Wattpadders. With such a large audience, it’s incredible how her stories have captivated them over the years and kept them coming back for more. As a writer myself, I know how much blood, sweat and tears can go into producing a single chapter, so Leigh’s collection of seven full length novels and equally popular short stories is pretty incredible.

We’ve heard from two successful university students already, nut it turns out there’s no limit to what age you can begin your climb to success. I spoke briefly with the team from Kerosene, who prove that nothing should stand in the way of your endeavours.

‘KEROSENE is a print and online-based literary magazine publishing work by and for the marginalised. Our team is composed of eleven girls between ages 14 and 20. We’re committed to giving a platform to LGBT voices and voices of colour and housing experimental narratives. In the long term and in the now, we want shatter glass ceilings, publish the revolutionary, and destroy the cisgender-heteronormative literary mainstream.’
With girls at such a young age already part of a team of successful people, it just goes to show what you can do if you put your mind to it. Their unflinching political stance is what drew me in particular when searching for young talent, with such a strong minded team of young people working together. Kerosene mag already has a large following on twitter of over four hundred people, which is particularly impressive considering that they’re a fledgling magazine. But they’re not stopping at Kerosene.
‘We are currently working on CONTRA, an anthology of revolutionary protest art and writing opposing the election and presidency of Donald Trump. Additionally, we are accepting submissions for our inaugural issue “GROWTH,” devoted to work from queer women.’
Three very different projects, and three groups of successful people – it just goes to show that whatever your talent, there’s a platform out there for you to stand on and show yourself off to the world. If these people aren’t inspiring, I don’t know who is. I’ll certainly be taking a leaf out of their book – start making your mark young, and don’t ever stop.
by Hayley Anderton

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