Eleanor Smith

Sociology BA (Hons)

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  • Year of graduation: 2020

Your University Journey

Why did you decide to study at the University of Northampton?

I was at a period when I had achieved something I didn’t see as being possible for myself. It was also when my A-level results were not optimal, but Northampton still allowed me to study there and do the course I had envisioned doing. I remember calling the UON Sociology team and recall the warm energy I received from them at the time, as well as the enthusiasm they showed, not only for the University, but also for the programme. That settled my nerves about moving out of home to pursue my degree. I was also excited at the prospect of studying something that I knew had plenty of opportunities, not to mention the high levels of student satisfaction the University had – I knew I would enjoy my university experience.

What are your career goals/aspirations?

Before starting my degree, I was constantly changing my mind about my goals and aspirations, because I knew that the opportunities I had were limited. Studying at Northampton expanded this and gave me opportunities to think bigger than just myself, and to see what both my degree and the University could provide for me. By studying Sociology, I had the opportunity to not only mentor second years in my final year of study, but also to go on an international field trip – these made me realise my passion and goals for helping people and listening to people. This then pushed me to not only pursue an MSc in Research Methods, but also to consider a career in Survey Design, because I realised I enjoyed listening to public opinion and learning about the habits of individuals during my time at Northampton.

How do you think your studies will help your career or personal development when you graduate?

My studies have given me the means to know what I want from my career after graduating, and to understand that from the opportunities given to me, I’m more than prepared for any career route. The Sociology team at Northampton not only supported me academically, but also personally, and gave me the means to challenge myself and realise that I’m not limited to things inside the classroom, but outside the classroom too. It will help my career as I know what and when to challenge, so I can use this knowledge to push myself towards opportunities that I wouldn’t have done before my studies.

Which, if any, skills and knowledge/understanding gained on your degree do you feel will be most useful in your future career?

The main knowledge and skills I’ve gained are confidence and to not doubt myself. Before my studies, I wasn’t a very confident person and had a lot of self-doubt about my ability to perform well. However, the University allowed me to develop myself academically, in terms of the assessments provided, as well as giving me opportunities to push myself, including hosting an A-level conference in my final year of study. Through the opportunities provided by my degree, I went from not being able to publicly speak well to delivering a conference to 30 A-level students and helping them to choose to study at Northampton. I also gained the knowledge and understanding of what it means to have a close-knit university community. Northampton has a unique selling point in that it provides a very close-knit community – not only within its programmes, but within the University as a whole. That environment gave me all the skills I would need professionally.

Extra-curricular activities

What extra-curricular activities do you participate in whilst studying?

I was a student ambassador for the Sociology programme in both my first and final year of studies. Being a student ambassador in both years felt like a full circle moment, as not only did it allow me in my first year of study to be responsible for communicating the needs of my cohort, but it also gave me the confidence to stand up for what the cohort needed. In my final year of study, this was more imperative, as we needed all the support we could get – being in this role meant I could provide this and that the student body felt represented. I also provided 1 to 1 mentoring for second year students in my final year of study. With this, I would drop into some of their classes and offer personal meetings to help with their assignments, as well as providing advice to help prepare them for their final year of study.

How do you think these extra-curricular activities will enhance your career prospects?

I think having these activities in my portfolio will enhance not only my public speaking skills, which are instrumental for any career, but also gave me important skills like minute-taking and timekeeping. These two skills go hand-in-hand with one another and prepare you for being able to attend meetings and keep notes using minutes, but also make sure that these meetings don’t get side-tracked by using timekeeping. Mentoring second year students also gave me the confidence to make sure that people are supported, which is a key element of understanding how you can support people around you in a professional setting.

Are you currently involved in any community or volunteering projects?

I’m not involved in any current projects, but I was recently a student ambassador for my MSc Research Methods programme at City, University of London.

Your advice

In one sentence, what advice would you give to undergraduates interested in this career path or anything you wish you had known earlier?

If there’s something you want to do that the sociology department can provide the opportunity for, just ask them because they’re more than willing to allow you to do so.

In ten words, or less how would you summarise your UON experience?

Northampton was the most exciting, fun and rewarding experience ever.