So here goes, meet the lovely Charlie...
1) Where and what did you study and when did you graduate?
I studied English at the University of Exeter in the UK and graduated in 2012.
2) Where do you live now?
I don’t live in just one place now! I travel full-time, which means I’m always based in different places around the world. Most often I house sit - meaning that I look after other people’s homes while they’re away on holiday - and this is usually for expats living abroad. Most recently I’ve house sat in Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Guatemala.
3) Tell us about your job...
I work as a freelance writer now. I started writing a travel blog about sustainable, slow travel a couple of years ago called Charlie on Travel. I only make a very, very small income directly through my travel blog, but I’ve gotten a lot of writing work off the back of it. I’m currently working for a UK digital marketing company where I’m the head of PR Outreach and Content Marketing. I manage a team of 15 other writers there. I work 100% remotely, I’ve still never met my boss in person, I can work from anywhere in the world and I absolutely love my job.
4) What did you want to be when you were younger?
I had no idea what I wanted to be really. I dreamed of being a writer as a child for a really long time, but everyone told me it was an impossible dream and that I’d need to write every day from a very young age to make it possible. I thought about other careers - teaching, advertising, corporate marketing, script writing, researching, film production - while I was growing up and through uni, but none of them ever really appealed to me. I started work as a writer in 2013, so it just goes to show that dreams can become a reality and that not everyone’s advice water tight.
5) What did you do immediately after leaving university?
Immediately after university, I took on two internships. One with Picturehouse Cinemas head office in a marketing role, and the second with BBC Films in a research position. I enjoyed both of my internships a lot and aspired to work in the film industry at the time. However, they were tiring, the commutes to London were long, and I didn’t like working for free. I doubted a lot whether doing an English degree had been worthwhile - a feeling which I don’t think is uncommon amongst English Literature graduates.
After finishing my internships, I moved to Taiwan with my boyfriend to teach English as a Second Language (ESL). I hadn’t planned on doing this at all and made the decision based on my boyfriend’s plans after finishing uni. I didn’t have a TEFL but you don’t need one to teach in Taiwan if English is your native language and you have an English degree from the UK. I studied Taiwan cinema at university, so I was relatively clued in on what life in Taiwan would be like. It was a good year and although teaching isn’t the career for me, I learned a lot from it about what it’s like living in a different country, a completely different culture and my ability to adapt to that.
I was really unsure about my future when I graduated. I remember thinking that all the hours I spent applying for marketing jobs in the UK while I was at university hadn’t paid off. I thought a lot about whether my decision to take on an English degree was a smart one, or whether I should have picked a more practical degree that would definitely lead to a job. I also felt like I wanted to see more of the world because Exeter is a small place.
7) If you could go back, what would you say to yourself on graduation day?
I would say to just continue as I was doing. That there was no reason not to take chances. To go for every opportunity and see what comes of it. That’s what I did at the time, but I was nervous about it for sure. I would tell my younger self to do it with a bit of confidence instead.
8) Would you have done anything different?
I would definitely have started blogging properly much earlier! But other than that, no, I don’t think so. I don’t tend to look back and reflect on life like that. I like to think that you make the mistakes you’ve got to make, learn the lessons you’ve got to learn and then keep going without making them again. Maybe I would have taken a more practical degree subject still, but actually when I was 17 I don’t think I really would’ve known what a better degree choice would’ve been and in doing so I might’ve shaped my future very differently from how it is now.
9) What inspires you?
Travel inspires me. New places, new people, new cultures, all those things inspire me. I don’t feel the need to be settled in one place, I don’t want that at all. I want to have all these new experiences and feel like I’m learning every single day.
10) What would you like to say to our graduates looking for inspiration?
Don’t think that anything is beyond your reach. And don’t think too hard either. I’m a very calculated person who agonises over decisions and researches like crazy, but actually it’s better to just go for things. There’s an element of uncertainty in everything, sometimes you’ve just got to try it, even if you don’t know what it is yet.
11) Your three favourite words
I have two: pura vida. It’s a Costa Rican saying which means “pure life.” Ticos use it in a flexible way to express things like take it easy, don’t worry, keep well, life is good.