Alumni Stories: Rhiannon Carter
26th September 2020
This post comes from Rhiannon Carter, who graduated as part of the class of 2020. In this post, she discusses her experiences of studying History at the University of Gloucestershire, how this was affected by the pandemic, but also how it helped her obtain a job in the Ministry of Justice.
Attempting to finish my final year when the lockdown first came into force was probably the most overwhelmed I have felt throughout degree (which is saying something considering I get stressed at the tiniest thing). While the situation could have been far worse, it was still a disappointment to end my studies at Gloucestershire on a rather dim note. I’m sure the others in my cohort will agree that our celebrations were not at all what we had planned: most were looking forward to the end of year drinks where we would inevitably take over Yates and force the lecturers to join in with karaoke.
One thing that the lockdown did allow, especially with the submission of my final assignment, was a deeper reflection over the previous three years which seemed to absolutely fly by. From being a fresher who had had the worst time in 6th Form and was permanently worried I was never doing the right thing, to someone who successfully completed a degree and managed to get through a dissertation without going completely insane.
History was never the first thing I imagined I would have studied at university. Originally I had planned to become a Paediatric Nurse in one of the universities in London. Although history had always my favourite subject in school, it wasn’t until I started going to university open days across the country that I was convinced it was for me, and even then I was incredibly picky about what type of History I wanted to study. I loved studying 20th Century America during my GCSEs, and most of what I had learnt at school was centred around 19/20th History anyway, so a degree course which allowed me to explore my interests further, as well as pushing me to study other topics I would have shied away from, was probably the most important factor when I accepted the course at Gloucestershire.
Another part of choosing to study this subject topic was due to the employability of humanities graduates. Not only do we develop a wealth of vital transferable skills, but because there are fewer specific career paths for us, it means we are more likely to be adaptable for a variety of different careers, and therefore able to engaged with work: two characteristics I have since discovered that are entirely desirable for employers. Entering the job market in the midst of a pandemic is probably not what I would have pictured upon graduating (a reoccurring theme apparently). It has been turbulent and unstable to say the least. Fortunately I did manage to somehow score an interview for the Ministry of Justice not long after I completed my studies in early June, and then received the happy news that they were offering me a conditional job offer upon a pre-employment check (aka making sure I had no criminal past) was completed.
Working in the Civil Service, while not for everyone, has been a point of intrigue for me. Not only do they consider employment for people from a range of backgrounds (including a degree in the humanities), but the career progression is outstanding. My advice for anyone looking for jobs, or investigating where a History degree can take you, is not to write off the Civil Service completely. It encompasses so many different lines of work, including something you may have never previously considered, and the opportunity to move in-between ministries and departments are far more frequent than you may realise, offering the chance for a very fruitful career.
It does seem strange that I am leaving education for the first time in 17 years and a part of me is dreading no longer having that structure in my life. Another part of me is glad, as I don’t think I have the energy to write another 3000-word essay. The University of Gloucestershire has provided me with so many opportunities that I will forever remain grateful for, from working for the SU and the university itself, to allowing me to fully explore my academic interests with more support than I can fully comprehend, or likely (following the disaster of my A-Levels) I deserved. I have left university with so many memories and true life-long friends that it is genuinely saddening I now have to leave it behind and become a ‘proper adult.’