How an understanding of contemporary politics led me to the digital media sector

Headshot of Politics alumni Tim Gatt
Tim Gatt
Associate Director, Edmonds Elder
BA Politics
"My degree supported me from the very start, helping me to develop research, writing, and verbal communication skills that were vital for taking the first steps in my career and are skills I still use to this day."

What has been your career path since graduating?

I was very lucky soon after I graduated to get a traineeship at Sky News and spend seven years learning the skills of TV news and being in charge of programmes. During that time, I discovered a love of online and social media, and moved to ITV News to run their digital offering and after to The Sun to run their website. I then decided upon a change in career, still doing digital media but in government. I ran the social media and creative content teams for three different government departments, before deciding to use my experience in a different sector, digital marketing and consultancy with Edmonds Elder. 

My degree supported me from the very start, helping me to develop research, writing, and verbal communication skills that were vital for taking the first steps in my career and are skills I still use to this day. Of course social media didn’t exist back in 2001-4, but the principles of marketing and journalism remain pretty similar even in the modern world.

Person using a touchscreen tablet

How has your degree helped in that path?

An understanding of contemporary politics, nurtured through my time at Sheffield, really helped me. My degree gave me a good grounding in research and writing, and finding what I loved to learn about.
The opportunity for such a wide range of extra-curricular activities at Sheffield was invaluable – I had the chance to write for the Uni news website and do student radio, which really helped me applying for work experience and securing my first job.

What were your favourite parts of the course when you were here?

I loved learning about post-45 politics and especially the modules on the two main political parties. Doing my dissertations (at the time you could take multiple dissertation modules) on contemporary issues opened up great opportunities to interview top people in power and identify the key quotes of what they were saying. I also learned how to condense a great amount of information, combined with analysis, into 10,000 words. I really enjoyed all the work associated with them – which subconsciously was a sign of what I was interested in doing as a job.

Looking at the BA course today, I would love to take the modules on Party Politics, Political Leadership, British Politics and Britain’s relationship with the EU. They all sound fascinating.

Did you get involved with any extracurricular activities at Uni?

I would never have got my first job at Sky News without my extracurricular activities at Uni: writing for the online news site, Sheffield Base, doing student radio (both news and a pop music show).

I never saw them as ‘things I must do’ – it was just things I was interested in and wanted to do for fun.

What advice would you give to students that may be interested in a similar career path?

Learn lots and read widely, but apply what you learn in lecturers and seminars about critical thinking. Have an open mind and take in lots of sources and viewpoints – it’s important to help get the full picture. 

Get as much work experience and extra-curricular activities experience as you can – don’t do them because you feel you ‘have to’; do them because you have a passion for them and enjoy them.

It’s no surprise to me that both Sheffield University and the BA Politics courses remain popular – they are among the best in the country. Combine that with fantastically supportive staff (like the wonderful Katie Hunter, who’s still there from my time!), a lovely place to live and have fun, great extra-curricular opportunities, and you get the perfect student experience. My Uni friends and I still speak very fondly of our time there. 

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