"Developing nerd reputation is what I’m going for."
When I came to the university I wanted to be a history teacher, and it’s very original for a history student; and then, as I went through the whole system and started getting some good marks, I just thought I’d quite like to stay on, but I sort of rolled there, I’ve just spent my entire university career sort of rolling through it. Because of that I’m now looking for academic jobs and I’d like to be an academic and publish, developing nerd reputation is what I’m going for. Generally speaking, after I’ve given a talk about something and I’ve mentioned some of the research I’ve done, with absolute certainty I’ll get a grandfather or a dad come up and say how cool it was, with embarrassed family behind him; I love that, that’s great!
I’d like to controversially say that I don’t particularly care about history. I care about questions and I like knowing things, I’ve always liked knowing things. My area has been transport, and I like how people are moved around, and that covers more than just history, I also do a lot of sociology, history, politics and others.
My undergraduate course was on history and politics, so I had to choose which one I wanted to carry on. The whole reason why I’m here for PhD, was my undergraduate dissertation, which was about an aircraft called de Havilland Comet. That is the first original contribution you make and when I finished it I didn’t feel like I had finished it, like I’m not done, I don’t feel done. And then I thought, I’d take a year out of that topic, so I’d have a look at rail and I did that for my Masters dissertation, and I don’t feel I’ve done that either. I always feel unfinished, so I want to stay and finish things off, and finish off the ideas that I think are original.
If I could give myself from the past an advice, I’d say: try everything. I applied for a few graduate schemes and I applied for masters. So I’d now say: don’t ever feel set on a path. I’ve always seen Essex as home and I wouldn’t probably describe it as anything else. Maybe it’s because I don’t know anywhere else, but in the same time I don’t want to know anywhere else. This is my safe place. It’s a nice life here, everything is convenient, I know a lot of people in different departments, and it’s very social and friendly. Everyone you meet is lovely. It’s very welcoming. I’m a student ambassador and I’m proud to represent the uni. I’m proud to put the uni’s mark on the stuff I do.
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