My career after graduating

A graduate
Laura Williams
Research Officer, Office for National Statistics
BA Applied Social Science with Sociology
2019
Laura graduated with a degree in BA Applied Social Sciences with Sociology and now works for the Office for National Statistics.

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

During my final year I applied for a widely advertised graduate scheme, the Civil Service Fast Stream. I went to the assessment centre but didn’t progress any further. However, this was a great experience as I then began to research other government departments and found the Office for National Statistics (ONS). It looked really interesting, so I applied and started my job straight after graduation. 

What skills are required for your job?

Research skills! Coding skills are also beneficial, but the ONS can teach you this. I’d also say being able to complete effective data analysis and write reports, but this can vary between departments.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

Writing reports that are read by the public and picked up by the media. 

What does a "typical" day usually look like?

My day can vary, although I mostly work on the same data. We have to cut it in many different ways, whether for our main publication or user requested data. Each day typically consists of some sort of data analysis and coding, and I also partake in stakeholder engagement.

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

The best advice I received was that it’s okay to ask for help with applications, especially from lecturers. Dr Mark Taylor helped me with my interview prep and this hugely boosted my confidence.

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

My advice would be actively look for training in the areas you’re interested in, it’ll help you understand the field and find it easier to move between jobs.

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

Yes, I did placements each summer and this was a huge talking point in my interviews. It not only showed my interest in the sector, but being proactive in finding placements gave me the work experience I needed. Whatever you do, whether it’s placements or something else,  make sure you find ways to demonstrate the skills they’ve given you and how they apply to the job. 

What did you enjoy most about your SMI degree ?

I really enjoyed how flexible my degree was, it meant I had a huge amount of choice in what I was studying. Also, how much effort the lecturers put in to helping you.

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

I’d say being a cheerleader for the Pom Sabrecats.

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Why Numbers Matter

SMI's series on why it's important to get numbers right.

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