In terms of the skills and experience that I gained through my degrees and how they helped me, there's a lot

HST - Joe Bear Thumbnail for alumni video profile
Joe Bear
Account Manager - Edelman London’s Public Affairs and Global Advocacy team
BA History; MA Historical Research
Joe Bear discusses the skills that both his BA and MA degrees gave him, as well as his experiences as a Student Ambassador. He highlights how they are now helping him in his current role within public affairs.

A transcript of the video:

Hi, my name is Joe Bear. I'm an Account Manager. At Edelman London's Global Affairs Team. I've been at Edelman for just over three years now and joined straight out of the University of Sheffield. I chose Sheffield as a place to study for both my bachelors and masters degrees. First and foremost, I guess because of the quality of the courses on offer, there was plenty of variety. I had a particular interest well, initially in a wide range of areas of history, some kind of Roman times all the way through to modern. And then found that I was able to sort of, narrow that down over the three years to the point why when I did my masters degree, I did a very specific topic on sort of modern 1960s America and did that for the entire year, which, which suited me really nicely, it allowed me to gradually narrow my expertise and my interests and really get the most out my degree. The degree both in terms of learning but also enjoyment. And I guess more broadly is also the fact that I just enjoyed Sheffield. I really sort of got a feel for the city. It's one of those places that's kind of big enough that there's everything you need from sports facilities to culture. It's a really good nights out. But it's also not so big that you feel like you're kind of you're drowning. It really feels like there's a student community. That support base is there it's really easy to make friends sort of across campus. You all go to very similar places. On nights out, but there's also a really wide range of places. I mean, you can quite easily find your group that you get on with and go from there, which I really enjoyed. 

So I worked as a student ambassador for I think maybe two years in my final year in my BA and then in my year I did my masters. And that essentially found me attending open days when perspective students would come along introducing them to the university, particularly what history was like at Sheffield. And in terms of what it offered me, I think it it allowed me to sort of share what I'd learned, I suppose is the easiest way to put it. It allowed me to pass on the experiences I've had in two, three years at Sheffield. What I'd found a struggle, whether I'd found solutions to that, what I'd really enjoyed, what my recommendations were. Often when these people were unsure of certain aspects that I guess when you lived in Sheffield and been at university for three years, you sort of found easy to answer they hadn't considered or really grateful to just hear from someone who'd been through that. And I think in terms of what it helped with as well was just being able to pass on certain things that staff aren't able to. And not in a critical sense, but in the sense that I, I'd been through the halls I'd had my first week at university. I had gone through freshers, I'd made friends. I'd joined the societies, all those kind of things that are part and parcel of the university, but beyond the academic side of things and which, which actually given you, you spend your entire three years living in the area. In most cases, they're quite valuable to learn about and make sure you end up in the right place. You don't want to live somewhere that you're not going to enjoy. And I think it's really important that you speak to someone been through that and had that experience. So it gave me the opportunity to pass that on. 

So in terms of my first steps in my career, I've worked at Edelman since I left university, I did what they called the open scheme, which was the graduate scheme at Edelman. I always had an interest in public affairs, which is what my role is but was really keen to get an experience of a communications agency more broadly, which the open scheme allowed me to do. And so I spent nine months rotating around the business, doing various things from corporate communications, public affairs, planning and strategy, internal marketing, and just learning about how the business operated in which I've since found very useful. And just having that awareness because public affairs is quite a specialised role. So I guess the easiest way to explain public affairs is that it's political communications. It's advising businesses, clients on how to position themselves in the political environment. Be that through engaging with third parties parliamentarians, through formal letters, or just in the way they position themselves around key issues and ensuring that they don't leave themselves open to perhaps unwarranted criticism, or if they have a particular aim in a policy area that they go about. Approaching that aim in a way that has the best chance of success.

In terms of the skills and experience that I gained through my degrees and how they helped me, there's a lot. I think, that there's the obvious ones. So it's writing skills that you learned through three or four years of just extended writing without sort of without no, not without guidance, but you learn on the job essentially, you do your essay, you get your feedback but you learn from it and you accumulate that experience over three to four years to the point by the end of it you're writing 50 thousand word essays. And having that base level of sort of high standard English is really, really useful for a job in which language is quite important. And analytical skills are extremely useful. So working in politics to be able to step back and analyse the kind of environment you're operating in. And work out how to simply present to someone in two minutes when that often really complex issues is really useful. And it sounds daft but time management. Often in my job you have quite a lot of pressures. So you might work for three or four, five different clients being able to juggle those roles, juggle those deadlines. Basically on your own without much. Chasing is really important. And at university you obviously learn that because there's a lot of working to your own deadlines. Making sure you're not cramming, making sure your hitting those essay deadlines getting the reading in well ahead of time. Asking questions when you need to, to make sure you're well-prepped and well-equipped to deliver the best way you can. And then a personal one I guess is thinking on your feet, often, say in a seminar, you're having a discussion people put arguments to you, ask you questions you need to learn very quickly to concisely work through your thoughts and put them out in a very succinct and presentable way. A lot of my role involves speaking to clients. They might ask questions you don't expect they might ask complex questions that you need to kind of give a really brief sharp answer to. Having done that for four years in seminar rooms, in debates, in speaking, to people you disagree with or being able to politely disagree with and without causing offence is a really useful skill. Both I think in my job and in life.

In terms of what I enjoy. I think it's the analytical point. I think that's why I enjoy my role and why I enjoy my degree so much is being able to take a step back, do reading in things you're interested in. Work on policy areas that you find really interesting, learning about it. Taking it on board, taking all the nitty-gritty side of things and formulating that into a few key points or a presentation or a minute's worth of talking, or perhaps sort of tailoring that into a set of sentences or letter that comes across in a nice and succinct way that gets your argument across without having to go into the nitty-gritty detail that a stakeholder or a politician might not look at, might not take notice of But also having that dataset behind your arguments to make sure that if they do ask those questions your have them to hand, you have the briefing, you're well aware of it, you can talk to it and you can think on your feet because you've done the prep beforehand. 

In terms of the biggest challenges, I think it's probably related to that. It's nice being able to operate in that environment. Particularly since I've worked in politics it has been quite volatile, particularly geopolitical. And it's being able to understand where are you, your client, the world you work in fits into that and and maintaining perspective that while something might be really important to them or you at that moment in time, it's seeing the bigger picture fitting it into it and making sure you consider that when making your, when making your decisions about engagement, when, when deciding on your strategy. Because you don't want to be shouting about X when Russia is invading Ukraine, for example. So you just need to, it's constantly staying on top of a constantly changing situation and making sure you stay afloat essentially and come out on top when necessary. And which is particularly hard at the minute.

In terms of what advice I would give to prospective or current history students, I think it's enjoy yourself. First and foremost, they were four of the best years of my life. I wouldn't say that ironically. I think they genuinely were and I wish I could do it over again. And I think while the history degree is really important, and I, I thoroughly encourage you to throw yourself into that and find something you're genuinely passionate about. Because if you find that topic, you're passionate about however niche it is it makes life so much easier, come the end of it, because you don't feel like it's a huge chore to deliver X dissertation. You genuinely find it interesting and find it enjoyable, however perverse that might sound. And the work reflects that. Because if you're enjoying it and you're passionate about it, what you produce is obviously going to be much better. And more broadly, I think it's just about throwing yourself into everything you can. Don't get too bogged down in like prioritising work over a societal things, over enjoying yourself. I think it's finding that balance about delivering on the academic side of things when you need to and making sure you come out with the grades, you've earned and deserve for your hard work, but also making sure you make friends friends for life. Friends I still have I met on that first day. I still speak to eight years later. I think it's just it's finding that balance and making sure that you make the most of what great societies are on offer. And speaking as someone who, who admittedly is bias and who was well involved in the history society. They offer a really great range of things from sports, travel. Historical research stuff, support on essays, support if you're struggling with your work load, support if you're struggling with making friends, nights out. Charity events, anything you can name it. They they they're on top of it and making sure you're welcome and that you can get involved.

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