When Jen joined the Institute of Historical Research in London she already had five years of solid work experience as well as her history qualifications.
She worked part time throughout her time at Leeds and feels that fitting in co-curricular activities alongside study and work is invaluable for getting the widest range of experiences possible.
What is your profession and who do you work for?
I'm Events & Publications Officer at the Institute of Historical Research, part of the University of London.
Describe your role.
The bulk of my role involves planning Institute events such as lectures and receptions; the key event I'm responsible for is our annual Anglo-American Conference. The rest of my time is spent working on the Institute's publications team - requesting reproduction permissions, editing and proofreading, and organising book launches.
How did you get to be in your current role after leaving the University of Leeds?
It wasn't the first job I got after leaving university; on leaving, I went into a graduate role for a market research agency which - although it gave me some useful experience - wasn't what I was interested in. After seven months there, I was lucky enough to get my current job after seeing it advertised online.
What did you do whilst studying that helped pave the way into your chosen career?
I worked part time throughout both my BA and MA, in a job which I'd done full time during a year out between my A levels and starting university. This meant I had five years of solid work experience behind me, as well as my degrees, when I left. As I hoped to work in a history-oriented role, I also volunteered at my local museum during summers, which was a valuable addition to my CV, and continued my museum volunteer work whilst working in market research. The internships run by the School of History were also an excellent opportunity - I took part in one of these towards the end of my MA course.
What skills and attributes did you gain from your course?
Both degrees required me to undertake independent research alongside group meetings and exercises – learning to use these skills effectively is something that has helped me in all the jobs I’ve held. Seminars and ‘mini conferences’ were also a fantastic way to build up confidence speaking to an audience, and helped me enormously in developing presentation skills which I still draw upon today.
What skills and attributes did you gain from your co-curricular activities?
Although it seems tough fitting in co-curricular activities alongside study – and possibly a job – they’re invaluable for getting the widest range of experiences possible. The clubs and societies at Leeds are very well organised and recognise the importance of a sensible balance between work and leisure time. I would strongly recommend volunteering, especially if you have a career in mind which requires some specialist knowledge or experience – this will instantly make you stand out from the crowd.
What advice would you have for students studying today?
Enjoy it! If you’re genuinely interested in your course then it won’t be a chore. And if you have time, even if it’s only an hour a week, do something which adds another element besides your degree to your CV.