Jack Coombes, BA Philosophy graduate, 2017
What did you enjoy most about your studies? Which modules or areas of research did you particularly enjoy?
I enjoyed the engaging seminars and insightful lecturers. I particularly enjoyed the challenge of the Heidegger and Kant and the interesting courses like Medical Ethics which brought philosophy into everyday issues in society and away from the abstract.
What employability/further study skills did studying at Essex give you?
I learned how to effectively communicate ideas and construct rational and effective arguments. I developed skills in presenting complex information to a group or individual in an engaging and effective way. I volunteered with society and Nightline.
What have you done since graduating from Essex?
I'm a qualified Advice Worker with Citizens Advice Basildon and Thurrock (soon to be Citizens Advice South Essex) and am currently working on an Energy Saving project aimed at vulnerable clients and a Universal Credit support project helping people manage the pitfalls of the government's latest benefit reforms. The official job title is: Project Adviser - UC Digital Support & Energy Best Deal extra, Information Assistant, Money Advice Service Administrator and Social Media assistant.
With your new career, how did you get your start?
Through an internship arranged through the University.
Could you describe a typical day at work?
A typical day is assisting clients with issues they face in their day to day life such as: debts, benefits, housing, employment, consumer, family, legal and immigration. I conduct an interview with clients where I explore their situation and problems and work with them to find a solution to their problems.
What do you enjoy about your work?
I enjoy helping people in an independent and confidential setting, I use my knowledge and skills to improve other peoples lives.
How relevant is your degree to your job?
Whilst the philosophical detail is not used to a great extent the rational and detailed approach to problems is. It has also opened my mind to a wider range of views that helps when dealing with clients.
What advice would you give to someone looking for a similar role?
If you are interested then jump at all opportunities and expect to have to learn a lot of information and apply it to interviews in a relatively short amount of time. It will be incredibly rewarding and you will make a difference in peoples lives. Start by volunteering and if you like it get involved with paid work that comes up. Citizens Advice is a great organisation for training in the sector. Think carefully as it is a niche sector and it is hard to get into without committing to volunteer work. Other roles like counselling or training as a solicitor or maybe a social worker position might be another option for those interested in the sector.