University of Brighton Alumni Association

Picture of Izzy James

Brighton gave me lifelong bonds and industry connections

Media and Communication graduate Izzy James recalls how her time at the University of Brighton was a transformative experience.

The Brighton Effect isn’t just about the degree, it’s about your whole time at University of Brighton, a package of experiences that shape your futures.

Having grown up in a small town in Wales, Izzy tells us how both the city and the University of Brighton were fundamental in opening her eyes to new experiences and providing her with a friendship group for life.

In addition, Izzy shares how the support she received from university staff got her through difficult moments and how the placement she did as part of her degree set her on her current career path.

Making lifelong bonds at Brighton

“Going to Brighton has completely shaped my life.

“From a personal perspective, I think the greatest takeaway I got from studying in Brighton is the group of friends I made there (almost more precious to me than my degree!). I grew up in a small town in Wales, so to move somewhere quite far from home and meet a group of people with who I had so much in common was a true joy. We bonded over music, culture and were all from smaller towns in the UK, and so were very excited to be in a bigger city together.

“I speak to them daily still and see them very regularly too, despite many of us now living further away. The older I get, the more uncommon I hear that is, and the more lucky I feel that the connection we have is still so strong. I also wouldn’t have met my partner of almost a decade, if I hadn’t been introduced to him through my housemate I met in second year at Brighton.”

Placements provided me with industry contacts

“Professionally, I can also trace a direct link back to my degree. We were asked to do a placement module in second year, and I worked with a London based promoter called White Heat/White Light. While there, I met another company, Rockfeedback, who asked me to do an internship with them once I’d graduated.

“The CEO at my first full time role knew the founders of Rockfeedback and so my graduate CV undoubtedly stood out to them because of that, and helped me get an interview, and the rest of my career went from there.”

Above and beyond support from University of Brighton staff

“My third year dissertation tutor, Paula Hearsum was a complete rock to me in my final year when I was going through an extremely tough time in my personal life. The support and compassion she showed me was just incredible, and was exactly what I needed to get my dissertation done and get through my exams.

“Seeing her again at my graduation and getting photos with her and my parents was extra special, and something they still bring up regularly.”

What success means to me and my advice for current students

“I think success is to be happy with what you’re doing right now. It could mean that you’re in your dream role, and really engaged with your work, or it could mean that your job allows you the time and headspace you need to be a great friend/child/carer outside of work.

“It could also mean that you’re happy with the path you’re on, and you can see how what you’re doing now is setting yourself up for something you want in future.

“My advice to current students would be, do the reading and don’t be afraid to ask questions!”

Proudest moment in my career so far

“One of my proudest moments in my career was joining a company when they were just starting out and being part of that growth. I joined them 2014 when there were about twelve members of staff and we had two desks in another company’s office. We had no idea what we were doing, and each of us had to wear many hats and do a lot of firefighting to make the company a success.

“Fast-forward now to the present day, that company now has over 400 employees globally, and offices in five countries. I am really proud that I can say I was part of that success and growth since day one, and have played a part in that!”

A word from the lecturer who means so much to Izzy

Dr Paula Hearsum, Principal Lecturer at the University of Brighton:

“Do you know I was talking about Izzy’s dissertation project only this semester with a student. She took a hugely challenging research design on musical meaning to a single song. Textual, syntactic, and semantic analysis for Neutral Milk Hotel’s ‘Oh Comely’ (1997) – see, I remember. Not just because Izzy was so engaged with her studies, but because she was a delightful supervisory student. I wasn’t remotely surprised to see her take on innovative and exciting roles within the music industry.

“A few years after Izzy graduated, she and what has been a consistent set of graduates have gone into very innovative areas of the industry. So much so that we drew on their contemporary experiences in the field to propose and validate what is now our degree in Music Business and Media BA(Hons) which is in its 5th year.

“It is a testament to students like Izzy who help co-create curriculum that we can remain as engaging as we do. I contacted Izzy as part of the process of putting the degree together and it is her trajectory, among others, that was highly commended by the external validators.

“Izzy was such a wonderful student to work with – she really engaged with the course and joined us in Open Days explaining to prospective students what she was doing so. Indeed, it is to her credit that others have since followed in her footsteps.

“When students ask me if they can do a final year project on a single piece of music I often think of Izzy’s contribution and am so delighted to keep in touch with how she’s doing. I feel very privileged to have had a window of opportunity with such a talented student.”

Alumnibrighton effectgraduatemediamedia studiesmusicUniversity of Brighton

Alex Petrovic • March 7, 2024

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