As part of her Geography degree Emily worked with London Citizens to look at Olympic job opportunities on offer to the local community in Tower Hamlets.
This project taught her how to write reports for a variety of different audiences, whether for academics or for charities and the local community. It was important that she put her arguments across in a clear and concise manner.
Her degree also taught Emily how to read critically and how to work effectively in a group.
What are the top attributes you’ve developed through your degree?
Explain and argue clearly concisely:
I’d say the first is communication skills. In Geography you do a lot of group work, especially in the first 2 years you do presentations as a group, but also occasionally on your own. Your ability to communicate within the groups but also when presenting your work will be incredibly important when you come to employment in pretty much any job in the future.
Critically evaluate the reliability of different sources of information:
Critical reading is also crucial – I think within most humanities and social science degrees you end up doing a lot of reading. You’ve got to do a lot of it in a limited time period so you need to be able to read a lot critically, pick out exactly what you need in a short space of time and then work out how to put it together in a report.
Curiosity and openness to change:
So the skill of reading critically but then also putting together what you’ve found and discovered – constructing an argument and maybe contrasting two things is something that’s going to be beneficial in a future career – whether as an educator, a researcher or anything in administration or policy work.
What are the top attributes you’ve developed through a chosen module?
Acquire substantial bodies of new knowledge:
So in the first year and second year you do research modules which help you develop your skills as a researcher. In the first year, you do a questionnaire which you do on campus and you have to construct the questionnaire, then gather the data, analyse the data and then write. We wrote a short executive summary which is the kind of thing that you give if you were working for research in a business. We also had to do an interview – it was the first time I’d ever done a formal interview. You had to write the interview, arrange it, record it, obviously conduct it, transcribe it and then code it – which is where you select aspects of it that relate to one another. Bringing that all together you can work out what’s relevant and what needs to go into a report. In this case it was to write a sort of newspaper article or a journal article about what we had discovered.
Grasp the principles and practices of my field of study:
In the second year the group undertook some research in the field with a group called the London Citizens about Olympic jobs which were being offered to people within Tower Hamlets and all the other Olympic boroughs. We did questionnaires which we undertook personally so we did one to one work with them. Using that data, we then had to write a 2,000 word report on data we’d actually gathered in the field for preparation for our independent geographical study – which is the equivalent of a dissertation. That’s the kind of skill that you’re going to need for any research job.
Work effectively in diverse communities:
Writing for a variety of audiences was also really important. You’d end up writing for other academics and other researchers but also for public groups and charities.