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Why did you choose to study history at Sheffield?Andrew Benson

I chose to go to Sheffield because the department had a reputation as one of the best in the country, and it lived up to that billing. The city and university were an enjoyable and relaxed place to spend three years socially. The course was interesting and challenging, and the tutors and lecturers approachable, learned and helpful - and advice from my personal tutor was invaluable in coming to terms with the demands of a history degree.

How do you think studying history helped with your career?

In a nutshell, the demands of history are largely to do with taking on board a vast array of information, processing it, analysing it, coming up with your own view on what it means, and then presenting that view in an as clear and persuasive a way as possible.

Tweak that description a little, and you're pretty close to some of what a journalist has to do on a day-to-day basis. So it's perhaps no surprise that I think the skills I developed at university have proved useful in my working life (even if, it has to be admitted, I have not had too much need since then to call on what remains of my knowledge of antebellum America or the Camisard revolt).

Thanks in no small part to my tutors (among them Mike Braddick, the current head of the department), I did quite well at Sheffield academically, and I was also able to work for two years on the student union newspaper. Together, that gave me the confidence to believe that I could carve a career as a journalist, and that's how it has worked out so far.

It would probably be an exaggeration to say that I wouldn't have managed that without going to Sheffield University, but there is no doubt in my mind that studying history there proved a great foundation for what I have gone on to do in my life.

What did you do after graduation?

I went travelling in India and Nepal for a while after leaving Sheffield, which opened my eyes, helped me grow up further, grounded me and, in its own way, also boosted my self-confidence, and not long after returning from the subcontinent I got a junior job at Autosport magazine. Within four years, I was their grand prix editor, travelling around the world to all the Formula One races as their lead reporter.

I did that for five years, as well as regular freelancing for the Guardian newspaper, and then joined BBC Sport in 2000 to work on what was then its new website. I'm still there nine years later as an assistant editor.

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