I feel like I brought my English Literature degree into the present and now have something to offer any company I work

Photograph of maia elisabeth benitez gilliam
Maia Benitez Gilliam
MA Cultural Data Management and Communication
Maia Benitez Gilliam discusses how the skills she gained during her studies with the DHI enhanced her English Literature degree and helped her secure an internship at the University of Sheffield.
Photograph of maia elisabeth benitez gilliam

What were you looking for from postgraduate study?

My undergraduate degree was English Literature and I was feeling unsatisfied with the career trajectory that was being presented to me. I didn’t want to be a teacher or an author, so I decided to find a niche. Everything is going digital so I wanted to modernise my degree and when I saw these courses and that I didn’t need any technical requirements, just the theory and skills to apply to digital methods, it felt ideal. I feel like I brought my English Literature degree into the present and now have something to offer any company I work for as digital is everywhere, as is culture. Being able to handle data but also apply it to culture and society means I have skills that are useful everywhere.

What skills did you learn from the MA?

There was a lot of flexibility on module choice which meant I could tailor it to my own interests. I’ve always been interested in languages as I speak another language so the Intercultural Communication module was really personal for me and a nice segway from undergraduate to postgraduate. In my first semester I took more of the culture modules but the introduction to Cultural Data module was really useful and helped me transition to the more technical side of the course. Then in the second semester I did more of the technical modules like Managing Digital Products and Digital Cultural Heritage. The course offers really valuable topics which are in line with the way the future is heading as everyone is looking for ways to innovate and we need people who understand all sides of it - the culture and society but also the technical. These technical skills definitely helped me when applying for jobs as I understood all the terminology, like ‘gantt charts’, in job specifications that would have intimated me before.

What are you doing now, since graduating?

I’m currently on an internship at the University, working on the Transforming and Activating Places (TAP) project. The project is a scheme led by the faculty of Arts and Humanities, placing under-represented students in internships with partner organisations across Sheffield. My role is really varied and includes events, data analysis and administrative work. I’ve been shocked at how pertinent to the MA course my job has been - the project is all about cultural partnerships and knowledge sharing which is where my interests are. It’s felt a bit surreal because the narrative is often that you won’t enjoy your job but all of sudden I’m in a room where culture and Arts and Humanities are being valued and acted on.

Digital Humanities Institute projects and research

The DHI collaborates with a wide range of academic and cultural organisations on funded projects in the Arts and Humanities.