Careers service aims to inspire FASS students with high-flying alumni panel

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An event organised by the University’s Careers service is seeking to inspire students of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS) by gathering together some of the faculty’s most successful alumni. The event, which takes place Wednesday, Week 5, includes speeches from ex-Lancaster students who have gone on to work for Kellogg’s, the BBC and the Prime Minister’s office, to name but a few.

The event is being organised by Careers Consultants Agnes Finley and Heather Tomlinson, who work mainly with students studying history, politics, philosophy and religion. Finley told SCAN that she was “delighted” at the response from the alumni taking part in the event. “They all have happy memories of Lancaster and saw the value in returning to share their career journeys with current students.”

Finley said that many alumni have gone to huge lengths to get back to Lancaster for this event. “Victoria Kirby – who studied History and Politics – was in South Africa covering Nelson Mandela’s funeral but she responded immediately with an enthusiastic ‘yes!’” Finley said. “She is a producer with BBC Breakfast and BBC One.”

The Careers service are particularly appreciative of history alumnus Elanor McCombe, who is making the journey from Kent to be at the event. McCombe – an investigator with the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman – is registered blind. “[She] wishes she had met more successful graduates with disabilities when she was a student,” Finley told SCAN.

The event – titled “Career Inspiration for FASS Students” – is designed to illustrate the range of employment possibilities available for students of the faculty, who perhaps have not yet considered what they intend to do after university. “When you are focused on your next assignment it’s difficult to lift your head up and view what is over the mountain,” Finley said. “I hope students will come and be able to imagine their future, and be able to see that what they are doing now is creating their future.”

“Small steps in the right direction at the right time can lead to a giant leap in career prospects.”

While organising the event, Finley and Tomlinson were supported by a group of history students, known as the History Careers Forum, who helped generate ideas as to what would be useful for students’ careers. One of the members of the forum, second-year student Lee Dickson, told SCAN that “my ambition for this event, but for the forum in general, is to help shape history students’ experience in finding out about what is on offer for history students in the world post their first degree.

“I hope this event will give history students confidence that there are diverse opportunities a history – and a social sciences degree in general – can open to them.”

A faculty-focused event has been warmly received by many students. Second-year history departmental rep Vicky Sanderson told SCAN: “when I was looking at what degree to choose, I looked at all the stats and pie charts that gave the percentages of where history students go [once they have finished their degree] and most of the time it just said education or further training.

“In terms of FASS, a career event – such as the one being held – would be really useful and beneficial because it just focuses on our faculty.”

The event begins at 2pm on Wednesday, Week 5 in the George Fox Lecture Theatre 1, with each guests given five minutes each to speak about their occupation. Time is allotted for questions at approximately thirty-minute intervals. The main session concludes after an hour and a half, with the remaining half hour offered for more informal networking opportunities between alumni and students.

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