Amy Foster, BA History, graduated in 2014.
Why did you decide to study your course at Essex?
The BA History course at Essex has a great reputation and a really interesting mix of modules that I knew I would enjoy getting stuck into. I liked that I could choose the classes to best suit my research interests, and as soon as I met a few of the lecturers at an Open Day, I knew it was the course for me!
I also really liked the Essex campus. As everything was all in once place - accommodation, lecture halls, computer labs, the library, the excellent Student Union, the shop, the bars and clubs - there was a real community feel to it. The location of the Campus was also great - peaceful and quiet when you needed it, whilst being just a short bus ride from the town centre.
What did you enjoy most about your studies? Which modules or areas of research did you particularly enjoy?
I loved having the freedom to choose what modules I was most interested in, to study and research independently. Having the time and facilities to do my own reading and form my own opinions, and then being able to take them to seminars for further discussion, allowed me to expand my knowledge and discover the areas of history I really enjoyed. I completed my dissertation on the relationship between John F Kennedy and Britain, and how this came into play during the Berlin Wall Crisis.
In addition, having a Department made up of staff with varied areas of research and expertise, allowed me to explore topics that I'd never studied before, such as Imperial Russia, class & gender in film, South African history and the Enlightenment.
What employability/further study skills did studying at Essex give you?
It may be thought that a History degree doesn't provide sufficient employability skills, but I think the opposite is true. As well as showing that you’re dedicated and driven enough to study a subject for three years just because you enjoy it, it also gives you skills in independent research, planning and organisation, communicating with peers, debating ideas and looking at events or facts from different points of view, all of which future employers look for.
Did you take part in the Frontrunners internship scheme at Essex? How has it helped you in your career?
I was Frontrunner when I was in my final year. I worked in the Learning Resource Centre, which was a small library/study space often utilised by International Students. I was responsible for administrative tasks, data entry, helping staff and students with materials, and managing social media, all of which gave me key skills I could bring to the workplace.
The scheme allowed me to fit in the work around my studies and gave me the opportunity to take courses in Microsoft Excel and Microsoft Access, which are now key programmes that I use in my current role. It was definitely a great way to gain work experience and learn new skills and improved my CV.
What have you done since graduating from Essex?
I now work as a Compliance Manager at the Royal Bank of Canada, looking after the reporting and governance processes for Regulatory Compliance UK, Europe and Asia Pacific regions.
How did your time studying at the University of Essex help your career?
Although investment banking regulatory compliance may seem a world away from studying History, a lot of the skills and methods of working required are the same! They both require sharp attention to detail, the ability to assimilate large amounts of information and draw conclusions appropriately, and the ability to be proactive, delivery focused and work to hard deadlines.
The University of Essex provided me with a great environment to complete my degree, with unwavering support from teaching staff, mentors and the Students' Union. It also gave me the opportunity to build and develop employability skills, and exposed me to graduate careers and employers that I'd never considered before. Ultimately Essex helped me find the career path that's right for me.