Sociological Studies Alumni Careers Event

sheffield former student volunteers, careers talkKeen to help current students with their career decision-making, the Sociological Studies Department brought alumni back to campus for students to hear first-hand about the different career options open to them.

Sociological Studies careers eventThe event, attended by 25 undergraduate and postgraduate students, featured five alumni graduates of Sociological Studies. Each alumnus was asked to speak for 15 minutes about their career history, a typical day in their current role, the challenges they face and the most enjoyable aspect of their job, and advice for current students.

The organiser of the event, Dr Jo Britton, is a Lecturer in Applied Sociology and also has an employability remit for the department. She said:

“We organised the event because our current students told us that they would welcome the opportunity to learn about the career experiences of our graduates. The presenters very much reinforced why we are proud of our alumni. They were engaging and inspiring and demonstrated how their career paths clearly reflected the value of their degree.”

One reoccurring piece of advice that emerged throughout the talks was about the importance of work experience; in many cases it was this experience that had secured their own graduate employment.

One of the student attendees said:

“All the speakers were really engaging and despite the fact there wasn't the specific career in which I’d like to go into represented, it was very interesting. They all seemed very honest about the positives and negatives of their careers. The social worker was really inspiring!”

A range of careers were represented, including social work, research and journalism.

Alumna Rebecca Joy Novell graduated in 2012 with MA Social Work and currently works with gangs in London, writes a column for the Guardian, and has recently published a book on being a newly qualified social worker. Rebecca said:

“I was really honoured to be asked to talk about Social Work at the careers event. I studied at the University of Sheffield for five years and it was absolutely the best University experience I could have asked for. I will always be proud to say I studied there. To be asked to go back and talk to current Sheffield students about a profession I am utterly passionate about was a no-brainer. For anyone who loves what they do, experiences like this are a pleasure and a great way to remind yourself how far you have come and how much you have to be grateful for.”

Mark Ansell, BA Social Policy and Sociology 2006, is currently a Broadcast Journalist at BBC Look North. Mark said:

“I wanted to give a couple of hours of my time to speak to students about the career path I’ve chosen because I remember very well what it’s like to be in their shoes and in need of finding out about different options after University. I feel a sense of pride and loyalty to both the University of Sheffield and the Department of Sociological Studies and I’m keen to give something back. I thoroughly enjoyed contributing to the event and loved learning about the careers of the other graduates who spoke.”

If you would like to find out more information about volunteering at the University, please visit the Volunteering web pages or email

A special thanks to the following alumni volunteers:

Rebecca Joy Novell, MA Social Work 2012
Flexible Gangs Worker (Social Worker), Westminster City Council

Mark Ansell, BA Social Policy and Sociology 2006
Broadcast Journalist, BBC Look North

Nazreen Iqbal, BA Social Policy & Sociology 2004, MA Public Health 2013
Service Manager for Primary Care Dental, NHS

Helen Philips, BA Sociology 2004
Commissioning Officer, Sheffield City Council

Tony Ellis, MA Sociological Research 2007, PhD Law 2013

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