I wanted to help improve young people's services through research

Grace Simmonds, SMI Graduate
Grace Simmonds
Analyst, The Children's Society
MA Social Research
2019
Grace completed her postgraduate degree in MA Social Research in 2019 and now works as an Analyst for the Children's Society.
Grace Simmonds, SMI Graduate

What has your career path been since finishing your SMI degree?

Since finishing my MA Social Research programme,  I have worked as a Data and Research Coordinator for Sheffield Students' Union, utilising the research and data analysis skills I developed through my master's degree to improve student services. I am about to start a new role as an Analyst at the Children's Society. I had a clear idea when starting the MA in Social Research that I wanted to help improve young people's services through research, centering young people's voices in service provision. When the opportunity to work with the Children's Society arose I was excited to work with an organisation whose work aligns so closely with my research interests and values.

What skills are required for your job?

I design and carry out research projects that utilise quantitative and qualitative research methods, including surveys, focus groups and interviews. I carry out statistical analysis using R and qualitative analysis using NVivo. I also communicate research findings and recommendations through research reports, presentations and workshops. All of these skills are skills I developed through my MA.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I love working with a diverse group of people, learning about their experiences and facilitating the improvement of services so they have access to the support they want.

What does a "typical" day usually look like?

A typical day is a combination of individual work (completing research proposals, conducting analysis, writing reports), team work (feeding back on a project's progress, receiving feedback on proposals, discussing initial findings), and engaging with young people about the issues they face. A typical day is varied, busy, and rewarding.

What’s the best piece of careers advice you’ve received?

Don't be too discouraged if a job application isn't successful. Every opportunity you apply for is good practice and helps you learn about what you would like to do.

What advice would you give to someone wanting to work in a similar role or industry?

Research the organisation you want to work for. Read their annual reports and impact reports. Think about why you want to work there and what you will bring to the organisation. Enthusiasm and dedication are as important as your skills.

Did you do any activities alongside your studies? If so, did they help you get your first graduate job?

I worked at the Students' Union as the Council Administration Assistant whilst studying, taking minutes and recording the decisions Council made. It was through this job I saw the opportunity to work as a Data and Research Coordinator and gain experience using the skills I had learnt.

What did you enjoy most about your SMI degree and what has been the most valuable thing you learnt?

I particularly enjoyed the qualitative modules and learning about creative research methods. It's hard to say what the most valuable thing I learnt was, as I learnt such a valuable range of skills. I think it was the ability to really engage with research participants and be reflective throughout the research process.

What’s your fondest memory of being a student in Sheffield?

I have many happy memories of spending time at the SU on a sunny day.

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