I fell in love - the vibrancy of campus, the breadth of modules on offer, and a consistent first-place ranking for the Student Union

Photo of Jamie Inkles
Jamie Inkles
Policy Analyst - Cystic Fibrosis Trust
BA History
Jamie Inkles discusses how a deferred year after school gave him time to consider his options, and decide studying History at Sheffield was what he really wanted to do. He also explains what his role as a Policy Analyst at the Cystic Fibrosis Trusty involves.

A transcript of the video:

Hi, my name is Jamie. I studied history at the University of Sheffield and I'm a policy analyst at cystic fibrosis trust. I have a lot of family from Sheffield and it's a city I grew up visiting a lot. So Sheffield was always on my radar as a place to come and study. Ultimately, when it came to choosing a place to study, I originally chose a place at Cardiff doing journalism, which I deferred for a year. During that year, I thought a lot about what I was truly passionate about and what subject I'd be able to give my all. And that was absolutely history. So I decided to have a look around the campus, knowing that the University of Sheffield was one of the best in the world and the history department was likewise. And I fell in love, the vibrancy of campus, the breadth of modules on offer, and a consistent first-place ranking for the Student Union made choosing to do my BA at Sheffield an easy decision in the end. 

I've always wanted to work in the public or charity sector in roles that I can use my interests, expertise, and skills to have the most impact. Policymaking is the perfect role in the sector to apply the critical reasoning and analytical skills I've built up at Sheffield and develop throughout my career. The role requires a lot of independent working, creative thinking and detailed research work to come up with proposals to solve real-world issues. All of which I really enjoy. Ultimately policy work is about identifying and analysing problems, developing solutions and trying to get them implemented. It's varied, exciting and really rewarding work. 

My BA gave me the skills I needed to go in whatever direction I wanted, but ultimately, I wasn't sure what that would be. I decided after hearing some advice on this matter to just get stuck in to the world of work having been told that nothing will more quickly make me realise what I wanted to do than doing something that might actually bore me. So I took a nearby desk job, developed my skills and experience and ultimately over the course of the year, identified where I truly wanted to go with my career. During this period, I started doing freelance work for an NGO and volunteer research administration for a different NGO, and also started a political blog, all of which helped me develop my experience and skills and ultimately helped me land my first full-time job in the charity sector, which is a cancer Research UK. 

My current role is as a policy analyst for cystic fibrosis trust, which is similar in scope, to roles like policy adviser or policy manager, depending on the institution. The role is very varied, although my main focus is on developing and delivering the mental health in the Cystic Fibrosis community campaign. What that includes is identifying the issues facing people with CF with regards to their mental health, looking into what the root causes of those issues might be and putting forward and campaigning on policy proposals to rectify them. This might include lobbying government on issues relating to getting more psycho-social professional support for people with cystic fibrosis or putting forward proposals to the Department of Work and Pensions to address some of the issues people with CF face when accessing benefits which caused detrimental harm to their mental health. This all requires the analysis of issues, development of evidence and the creation of asks. They've been tested and have inputs of the people with cystic fibrosis and the experts in their care. 

My history degree has given me the critical reasoning and analytical skills I needed to excel professionally. Being able to think and work independently, write creatively, and come up with creative solutions to real-world issues and then evidence my solutions using my own detailed research has been so invaluable. 

I love the ability to take on big societal issues and have the free range to go away and work on solutions to rectify them. The biggest challenges with this work, are that it sometimes requires you to be big and bold and confident in your proposals, and sometimes that can be quite daunting. Earlier on in my career, I've spent a fair amount of time checking in with colleagues, making sure what I was doing was okay. And almost always was. Confidence in your abilities sometimes just comes with time, but it feels great when you realise you now have that confidence. 

The skills and expertise you will develop whilst studying the University of Sheffield will open a complete array of opportunities in varied and interesting careers. The modules are fantastic. The campus life is likewise fantastic, and I made lifelong friends on the course. 

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