"The way MMU helped me with all my enquiries made feel at home before I had even started my degree"
After A-Levels, I began a course in English Literature at a different university. I didn’t feel the course was relevant enough to the real world, and so I left. After a few years, I found the Sociology course at MMU and knew that it would be much more relevant to the problems and issues facing the UK and the world today. The way MMU helped me with all my enquiries made feel at home before I had even started my degree.
After graduating, I went to work for an architect’s practice in Cambridge, my hometown, as their practice manager. The job was advertised locally and after a few interviews, I was appointed. I was in charge of making sure the practice ran smoothly, from liaising with the accountants about payroll to co-ordinating competition entries. This experience showed me I needed another qualification to enable me to get a role working within the built environment sector and so I studied an MSc in Environment Psychology at another institution.
During my master’s, I met my now business partner and am the Director of Space Works Consulting, an Environmental Psychology consultancy that helps to design the built environment with people in mind. The content of the course at MMU is directly related to my current position as an Environmental Psychologist, as I use social science research methods on a daily basis. My research skills are invaluable to the work I do now and are what I use most in the current role, while my knowledge of social policy, especially housing policy, is constantly useful. Also, my passion for making the built environment better for the people who use it was ignited while studying at MMU!
I would recommend students take the time to develop both qualitative and quantitative research skills. You might think at the time that you can’t see you would ever use SPSS in a job, but you’d be amazed how employable it makes you. In addition, general work skills such as organisation are essential to running your own business and my time at MMU certainly helped me develop those skills.
My top tip for progressing your career is to network. We spend a lot of time networking, and not only is it helpful for winning more contracts, but knowing people in your chosen field is also important. During my time at MMU, I joined the People and Planet group and took French evening classes, in order to meet some different people.
In my second year, I took a module on society and cities, run by Dr John Scanlan. Every week we explored different architectural visions of a better society and I was hooked! I had always been interested in architecture, but much more focused on the people side of things, not the building side, and John’s module helped me see a way I might be able to use that interest in a career.
What I loved most about my time at MMU was the energy and time the lecturers put into their work and the way the students always came first, which was really special.