I love the city, it is perfect for student life as it brings the perfect mix of nightlife, coffee shops, restaurants & the peaks - it has a great buzz

A photo of Annabel Collis
Annabel Collis
HR Executive
MA Sociology
MA Sociology student Annabel shares how her MA degree has helped her in her role as a HR executive, and what she loved most about the course.
A photo of Annabel Collis

Why did you decide to do a Masters degree at the University of Sheffield?

During my combined degree of English and Sociology, I was drawn to sociology as it has many eye-opening topics and themes which made me determined to remain knowledgeable about current issues people face within society. Therefore, I decided to pursue a Sociology masters. This interest aligned with my career goals as I knew I wanted to go into HR, which involves organising and protecting a range of people and promoting diversity and inclusion within an organisation.

I wanted to stay in Sheffield as I love the city, it is perfect for student life as it brings the perfect mix of (affordable!) nightlife as well as coffee shops, restaurants, the peaks, nice parks etc. The city has a great student buzz.

A photo collage of crookes valley park and bole hills

What have you enjoyed most about your course and why?

One thing I particularly enjoyed about my course is learning about how current societal issues are closely interlinked and defined by historical events such as colonialism. I found it shocking and important to understand how the past has defined the present.

I enjoyed that at Masters level the class size is small and rather than feeling like students and a teacher it feels like you are all colleagues engaging in discussions and debates, teaching each other new ideas through your own individual perspectives.

At Masters level you delve deeper into topics meaning that at times my pre-existing views were challenged as we looked at topics from different perspectives. For example, I always associated feminism as an inclusive space for all. However, my masters taught me that whilst feminism can empower some women, it can simultaneously exclude and silence other women such as black feminists.

What was your favourite module on the MA and why?

I particularly enjoyed the module Contemporary Challenges: Refugees and Asylum due to it being such a current and concerning political and social issue. This module taught me to be more alert to the constant microaggression when discussing migrants in the media and the effect this can have on society. It made me realise the importance of paying close attention to the language used to identify meaning e.g., animalistic and dehumanising metaphors and imagery, similar to that used during colonialism, emphasising the power of the past in defining the present.

Can you tell us about your job now and what it involves?

I now work in HR at a small company building up and defining the HR department and how we treat our people. My responsibilities involve supporting employees across the whole employee lifecycle: onboarding, performance management, welfare, exit interviews.
The skills I developed in my sociology masters are useful here as I am involved in promoting diversity and inclusion within the workplace and relaying to management the importance of treating employees well through different things such as employee benefits. A key transferable skill that I learnt throughout my sociological studies is looking at things through different people’s perspectives and recognising your own unconscious bias. In my role this enables me to recognise people have different needs and try and create an inclusive workplace which caters for those needs.

What piece of advice would you offer new students to the Department of Sociological Studies at Sheffield?

My top piece of advice is to use all the resources available! Especially if you are struggling with a piece of work, it is a lot easier to go to a tutor’s office hours where you can be reassured and supported than spend time alone trying to tackle work.

Another piece of advice is to take advantage of everything that university brings and make the most of the little things because you will miss them! If you are considering joining a society or getting more involved with your course society, do it, because it is a lot easier to do at university than after.

Four students laughing while sat at a bench, outside the Students' Union

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