Students Staff

Graduate profiles

Our courses are designed to give you the knowledge and skills that employers are looking for. The flexible, modular nature of our courses enables you to focus your studies on the career path that interests you. The stories of our graduates will give you an idea of just some of the options open to you.


  • Sam Peoples, Blogger

    Sam Peoples
    Could you tell me a bit about what you have done since leaving Essex and what you do now?

    Since leaving university after finishing my BA History degree, I have gone on a rather unusual path. My History dissertation was written on the Munich Air Disaster of 1958, where 23 people including 8 Manchester United players were killed, and it inspired me to start writing a Manchester United blog called The Peoples Person.

    I realised that writing was my passion and completed a further diploma in Journalism where I learned the basics of media law, court reporting, public affairs and 100WPM shorthand. Combined with my History degree, it gave me the tools to succeed. The blog started off as a place where I could write once a week but after a lot of time and hard work, I am now running the blog as my full-time job from my own office in London and have interns, provided by the University of Essex, working alongside me.

    How have you used your degree and other experience gained at university?

    History is a very solid degree to do because of the foundation skills you learn on the course such as understanding and appreciating how important context is in every situation, the necessity of strong research and the usual skills like communication and time management.University itself is where you grow up as a person. Learning how to fend for yourself is a critical part of growing up and there is no better place than university to learn it. As long as you can balance your degree studies with everything else that university has to offer, you will get the most out of it.

    What do find most interesting or rewarding about what you do now?

    If you asked me what my dream job would be, I would tell you it would be being my own boss writing about Manchester United. That’s exactly what I am doing and I know I am in a situation that a lot of people can only dream of. However, I don’t consider myself lucky. The reason that I find myself in this position is because of dedication and a lot of hard work. I ran the website around a full-time diploma and full-time job for over 18 months which involved long hours seven days a week but because of that, the website grew to the point where I took the plunge and never looked back. It wasn’t done without risk because at the point of going full-time on the website, it wasn’t earning enough to pay my rent but it was the best decision I ever made. The cliché is completely right – those who don’t take risks won’t be rewarded. It’s a mantra I will vouch for.

    What tips would you give to current students on getting the most out of university?

    Find a healthy balance and partake in as much of university life as possible. Passing your degree is the prerogative and why you have paid so much to go to university but balance it with everything else. Join some social clubs, join the gym, take up a sport, find activities outside of education that the university provides and take advantage of them. Without them, you don’t get the whole university experience. All work and no play is bad. All play and no work is worse. Having that balance will allow you to enjoy university to the maximum.

    What tips would you give to recent graduates who are looking for work?

    Make yourself stand-out. Right now, it is an employer’s market which makes it difficult for students to find jobs but there are jobs out there. The internet opens up the world to you at your fingertips, you just need to work hard to find the opportunities. Chase up emails, send emails again, and pester people until you get a response. If you don’t, another candidate will.

    Think outside the box. I heard a great example of how to really use the power of the internet to find a job recently. A candidate desperately wanted to get a job at Google but he never had any responses to emails. So, what he did was genius. He found out the names of 20 high placed directors within Google and set-up Google Adwords campaign (paid advertising) so that when those 20 directors typed their name into Google, his name and telephone number would appear as the first result with “Hire me” written next to it. What happened? He is now working at Google. Use the internet. It is your biggest and most powerful tool to finding the career you want. That’s the best advice I can give you because it is the internet which has provided me with my career.

  • Stu Hill, Editor

    Could you tell me a bit about what you have done since leaving Essex and what you do now?

    I have been working as a Content Editor for Thomson Reuters, the world's largest news and regulatory intelligence company, since late July 2013. I started working for Thomson Reuters about two months before the end of my MA. My role entails maintenance of and addition through the use of HTML to the financial rulebooks and guidelines that the Finance and Risk section of Thomson Reuters provide to their clients, who are mainly compliance officers in banks and other financial institutions.

    How have you used your degree and other experience gained at university?

    The job opening for the Content Editor position was directed at law, history and English graduates specifically, owing to the editing nature of the job, and so of course my undergraduate degree in Ancient History and Classical Archaeology from another university, and my soon to be completed MA History from Essex helped this. Furthermore, following graduation from undergrad in 2008 I had a graduate job as a tax accountant for a couple of years, and since then I have also worked in a database support role for an independent financial advisers firm, on a historical census project at Essex, and in bibliographical research for the Centre for Bibliographical History (also at Essex). All of this experience helped me secure an offer in what I have been told by the company was a highly competitive application process.

    What do find you most interesting, enjoyable and rewarding about what you do now?

    I find the creation of documents and texts, being vehicles of knowledge for posterity, to be the most rewarding aspect of my job. Making a contribution to society's pooled knowledge is part of what being a historian is all about, so the opportunity to do this on such a regular basis (ie every day!) is one that I enjoy. More specifically, given the industry I work in, maintaining and updating rulebooks and guidelines has a morally satisfying edge to it also – producing documents to assist firms in complying with laws and regulations, particularly during such rocky economic times as these, greatly boosts my job satisfaction.

    What tips would you give to current students on getting the most out of university?

    I would advise current history students to take advantage of the fantastic opportunity before them to critically pursue their intellectual interests, particularly in a department with such strong research credentials as History at Essex. Not only is thorough and enlightening research on personal historical interests fulfilling, but also could lead to fresh insights in the area or indeed, as I happily discovered during the course of my MA dissertation, new ground entirely.

    Regarding the university experience as a whole, definitely work hard and play hard. It's a unique experience, one that is by and large ridiculously good fun and one that you must not leave with regrets. Plus, if one learns to work hard and play hard, they will be perfectly set up for making the most out of their working life.

    What tips would you give to recent graduates who are looking for work?

    I would advise recent history graduates who are looking for work to think outside of the box. There is a common misconception that history graduates are limited to careers in teaching or museums, or further study. This is entirely incorrect. I have worked for an accountancy firm, an IFA, for a historical census project and now for the world's leading financial intelligence company. Countless fields of employment rely in some part on skillsets that are honed by a history degree and thus possessed by history graduates. Law is a closely related discipline, as is journalism. The worlds of business and finance need people to critically deal with and analyse large volumes of information, and, importantly for those history graduates (such as myself) who have zero interest or knowledge in financial trading etc, never have to participate in exchanges of goods, stocks, money and so on. Conversely, if a history graduate did want to move into finance or accountancy, and is worried about a lack of experience in such fields (I can personally vouch for the tax accountancy side), then there is not necessarily a need to worry. Employers like to see a demonstrable skillset, and, if the experience is not there (as was the case when I became a tax accountant), the evidence that the job applicant is a blank slate who will learn the job quickly as a result of their skillsets.

    To think outside of the box, one needs to search thoroughly. I did not stumble across my job's advertisement after ten minutes of searching Milkround. (It was actually after exhausting five or so main sites daily for two or three months.) Perseverance and patience are essential. It should not be forgotten that thousands of graduates will be in the same position, hunting (predominantly) online for a job that stands out. But not everyone will have thoroughly searched, nor will they pay attention to the non-standout adverts – often, recruitment agents do not reveal the name of the company in question in their initial advert, as was the case when I applied for Thomson Reuters. Attention to detail and identifying roles, not necessarily obvious roles, to which you believe you would be suited, are key.

    What advice would you give someone wanting to follow a similar career path?

    If a history student wanted to follow a similar career path to mine, I would recommend building up experience in research and data handling and management. Having a proven track record for research and filtering large quantities of data quickly is crucial. My current job is ideal for me, I believe, though I did not fall into it immediately following graduation. My alumnus example is a little different to normal instances perhaps, given the three-year gap between finishing my BA and starting my MA, and also I studied for my MA part-time so that I could work as well. But there is plenty of opportunity during an undergraduate degree to build up experience in the areas that are essential for content, research and data management jobs. Even if a history graduate does not secure the ideal graduate job soon after graduation, this is not a disaster by any means. Rather, every step along the way should be considered an opportunity, as has been the case during my work life thus far.

  • Lauren Mason, Human Resources

    Lauren Mason Could you tell me a bit about what you have done since leaving Essex and what you do now?

    After my final exams I went straight back to a summer placement at a London law firm that I had maintained since starting my A-Levels. I then started to apply for Human Resource Assistant jobs in the city.

    I now work at in their Human Resources department. This is mainly an administrative role, managing the starter/leaver process, producing and sending out contracts and dealing with the monthly payroll. But I've also been given the chance to work on some exciting projects that will roll out across the company early next year!

    How have you used your degree and other experience gained at university?

    In terms of skills from my degree, time planning is the most important that I've developed, and a skill that is seriously underrated. In any fast paced environment you really have to adapt to juggling ten things at once, and it's something that I'm still learning how to do effectively! Aside from that, written/oral communication and project management (from my third year independent research project) are also skills that I have learnt to refine throughout university and has really benefited me in my day to day role.

    During my time at Essex I worked as a Student Ambassador, this really helped with my public speaking, time planning and dealing with unexpected situations. As I want to go down a HR Generalist career path, ambassador work gave me an exposure to the recruitment element of the profession, as well as the core skills needed for recruitment more specifically.

    What do find most interesting, enjoyable and rewarding about what you do now?

    I have really good relationships with the people I work with, with my colleagues and also my clients. I also really enjoy working on projects and seeing things through to conclusion. Over a year, I will see unprompted conversations that I initiated myself develop into new interactive educational outreach activities. That is really satisfying and it feeds wider interests I have in digital technology.

    What tips would you give for getting the most out of university?

    The company itself is what makes my job so interesting, I am incredibly lucky to be working in a company I personally use, and one that is growing so quickly. It makes everything that little bit more fast paced which is something I love. Not forgetting that I get to attend career fairs at universities across the country so I can re-live student life a bit!

    What tips would you give to current students on getting the most out of university?

    Start early! Please do not do what I did and get to the beginning of third year wishing I'd started with the extra-curricular stuff earlier. In today's climate where the majority of graduates will walk away from university with a 2:1 or more, employers are looking for other ways to distinguish between their candidates. This is where the extra activities come in. So don't put pressure on yourself and leave it until the last minute!

    Join societies and try and gain an official position. Student mentoring, the Big E award, Student Ambassador work, becoming a department representative, volunteering - they will all be picked up on by a potential employer. Asides from how fun and rewarding it is to actually do those kind of things, the bonus is that it will look great on your CV. Employers will want to be convinced that you did more than just eat, drink, sleep and study!

    What tips would you give to recent graduates who are looking for work?

    Graduate schemes are definitely not the only answer. After the scheme you are never guaranteed a permanent placement either. Not all great employers actually run them, but will instead advertise roles targeted at graduates. Try and gain experience somewhere if you know that that is what your CV is lacking, either through an internship, work experience or a part-time job. Try and make the experience relatable to the new job by talking about your skills.

    Know your skills! That Saturday job you had when you were doing your A-Levels probably has given you more skills than you realise. Customer service role = communication and problem solving. For each experience you put in your CV, don't just list the tasks that you completed – show off the skills you used to do it. The Employability and Careers Centre CV and Cover Letter booklet is a goldmine of knowledge, I recommend people use it, and then when you think you're done, take it in there and ask for a professional opinion.

    Are there any websites, publications or organisations students might find helpful?

    Website: Google! Company websites that you're interested in. – then all the agencies listed within Reed, look on their websites, and get in contact with them, offer to go and meet them too. Our careers website (as well as Kent University's one too!)

    Publication: Anything from our careers centre, but most things you can find on the internet.

    Organisation: Milkround. Agencies related to the industry you’re going into. The History Department - alumni have all been there and done it, you may find someone has gone down a similar career path that you’re wanting to go in to!


  • Geoffrey Towsey, Careers Officer

    Geoffrey Towsey What have you done since leaving Essex and what do you do now?

    After I completed my undergraduate degree I decided to stay on at Essex for my masters. Whilst I was still doing my masters I got a job working in West Hatch High School as a Careers Officer. I started in September 2013.

    My current job involves a range of different elements, but is mainly based around offering careers advice and guidance to students from year 7 to 13. It is all about telling students what options are open to them and the different routes they can take. As well as this, it also involves planning careers fairs and events, as well as developing lesson plans and resources for career sessions. Whilst it involves a great deal of time spent working with young people, equally there is a lot of paperwork too.

    How have you used your degree and other experience gained at university?

    Regardless of the job you do a history degree will give you a fantastic set of skills – (all the clichés) communication, team work, time management, analytical skills. I would encourage students to really think about what skills they are using throughout their time at university. Practically all interviewers and application forms will ask you to prove you possess these key skills.

    During my time at Essex I worked as a Student Ambassador with the Outreach Team and this was really useful for my job. Outreach is all about working with young people and raising their aspirations, so it was ideal for my current position.

    What do find most rewarding about what you do now?

    Working with young people and helping them make decisions about their future and possible options. It was an opportunity I was never given when I was younger. No two days are the same either and I am not constantly sat in front of a computer.

    What tips would you give for getting the most out of university?

    Do everything! There is no excuse to not get involved with things at university. You can always find something: CV Workshops, Employability and Careers Centre events, the Big E, volunteering and the vTeam, joining societies, getting involved as a student representative, doing some part-time work or a Frontrunners placement, or getting involved with the Students Union.

    What tips would you give to recent graduates who are looking for work?

    Do not just look at graduate schemes; you do not have to do a graduate scheme just because you are a recent graduate. Many employers will offer you a standard job and give you the training (and higher pay) anyway.

    Know the industry and the job you are applying for and prove it with skills and experiences – a week spent in a marketing department does not make you a 'branding guru'. Also have a think about whether there are any obscure jobs within an industry, which people might not think of at first (people might think about finance and risk management, but would they think actuary?)

    Look in local papers, Google or companies websites for jobs, or ask someone you know. Talk about your skills and what you have done. The clichéd terms (teamwork, communication etc.) are what the employers look for, so make sure they are in your covering letter.

    Are there any websites, publications or organisations students might find helpful?
    • Website: Google – it knows everything! Just Google a job you are interested in and see what comes up.
    • Publication: the 'Hire Me!' careers booklet which the History Society produce. Read it! Trust me, it's excellent!
    • Organisation: Department of History and especially their alumni links, plus the University's Employability and Careers Centre.

  • Dr John Ashdown-Hill, Historian

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