I really wanted to study something that could be applied widely to different sectors and jobs
Sally hosts the podcast 'The Guide To Getting Your First Job Abroad' - so do check it out if working abroad is something you're interested in pursuing!
A transcript of the video:
Hi, I'm Sally Fletcher. I head online events for a company called IQPC. And I graduated from the University of Sheffield in 2008. I did a BA in history and English literature and then an MA in 18th century studies. So I decided to study history first of all, because it was interesting to me, of course. Second of all, I really wanted to study something that could be applied widely to different sectors and jobs. So I found that when you were at school, you're only really exposed to a certain number of jobs, you know, you know, policemen, nurse, doctor, lawyer, butcher, baker and you know what your parents do. But that's really as far as your knowledge goes. But once you start working, you'll find out there's such a wealth of different options within every single sector. There are hundreds of jobs that really can suit you that you don't know anything about. Having something like history that can be applied widely and to many jobs is a really, really great thing. And it was definitely a factor in my decision-making.
Quite honestly, I didn't set out to work in conferences, so I graduated in 2008. The financial crisis was just starting up and jobs were pretty scarce. Something I'm sure you post Brexit and post-COVID graduates can identify with. I didn't really have any money, but I still wanted to travel. So I was looking for something that was exciting, which was challenging. And possibly in an international company where I could see a little bit of the world. I saw an advertisement for a conference producer and it really ticked all the boxes in terms of what they were looking for in an employee, but also what I was looking for. So a exciting job in an international company that involved research, writing, and presenting. I started working for the company in London. And within a year I got the opportunity to travel to Singapore, and produce conferences for our Asian market. So I was running conferences in China, Japan, Malaysia, Philippines, and of course Singapore. And that was really, really exciting. I stayed there for four years before transferring to our Berlin office where I live now.
IQPC, the company I work for, it's the largest privately owned conference production company in the world. We specialise in conferences, of course, but we also do webinars, podcasts, market reports, interviews, those kinds of things. I head online events for the company. My role as head of online events is to put together conferences, of course. So I would do research into the topics that we do the conferences on. I would source speakers, and I'd run the event on the day. We tend to cover business topics such as artificial intelligence, robotics, customer experience, digital transformation, and shared services.
I also have a podcast. It's called The Guide to Getting Your First Job abroad. It's a podcast I started to help people who really wanted to see the world whilst building a meaningful career. It covers topics like how to nail a Skype interview, how to choose where you want to go abroad, roots to global careers, building your professional & personal contacts, digital nomads, things like this. So each week we interview someone different, someone that's been there and done that. Also cover one of the topics and it's available wherever you get your podcasts. So if working abroad is something that appeals to you, please do, check it out.
I would say a lot. Essential to my job is critical thinking, of course, but also the ability to digest large amounts of information online from different sources and pull out key trends and facts. And key themes. Just as I would have done with my coursework for my degree. I now do the same when I'm writing out conference agendas. So I need to be able to spot common themes, recognise trends across the industries that I produce events for. Separate fact from fiction. Very similar to the methodology used to study history.
I like that my role enables me to be cutting edge in an industry. So understanding the leading minds, new developments within industry I produce conferences for. It also makes me think, it's not dull. You meet a lot of smart people. It's a fast-paced industry. It's also very flexible so I can work from home. I can work wherever I am in the world. And that's a really, really big bonus for me now.
In terms of what I don't like or what challenges me, it is stressful. It's a stressful job. It's a fast-paced industry, it's got strict deadlines, strict productivity targets. You have to be able to juggle multiple projects at once and be able to handle the fact that you're going to be responsible for a big conference that people have paid money to attend. So if you get nervous, even throwing a little party for your friends, then it's probably not the job for you.
I would say that when you do start looking for jobs, be open-minded about what's out there and persevere with your applications. A History degree, especially a degree from a university like Sheffield, can open a lot of doors and be applicable to a lot of professions and sectors. If you're anything like me, you're going to have to apply for a lot of jobs before you get an interview. But do keep going. It's that grit that's going to set you apart and determine how well you succeed. I hope that's been useful.
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