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.