Below, former student Connor Jones reflects on his time at Portsmouth. Like many history students, Connor did not come to university with a strong idea of his intended career, but this did not matter so much, because our Portsmouth history degree provides many of the skills employers are looking for. We note that Connor’s role now involves speaking to audiences of up to a hundred people, demonstrating that all those history presentations provide useful transferable skills! It has been a delight to teach Connor, and to meet up with him again at open days.
I spent some of the formative years of my life at the University of Portsmouth where I studied single honours History. Having spent 18 years of my life growing up in Bristol, I decided that for University I needed to head a little further afield, to somewhere that not only had the seafront on its doorstep, but that also had an excellent reputation for its History department.
When I looked around the University of Portsmouth back at the start of 2013, the sun was shining as we came off the M275 into this historic city. It did admittedly paint the city in a wonderful light even before we’d found somewhere to park and headed over to our first talk of the day about Student Finance… The history talk that I attended went a long way towards making my decision for me to study at the University of Portsmouth. Both the syllabus and the resources that I would have at my disposal, including the brand new University library and the Historic Dockyard, sounded superb. Further to this, the lecturers and the members of the History Department that I met on the day were not only friendly and welcoming, but I got the sense that they really were experts in their field who were totally invested in ensuring that the course would bring out the very best in each and every individual.
Fast-forward to 2020, and as I write this I have taken some time to reflect on just how far I have come since I graduated in 2016, and to consider just how influential my time spent studying History at the University of Portsmouth has been. I must admit, when I decided to study History at the University of Portsmouth, I didn’t necessarily know what it was that I anticipated doing with my degree at the end of the three years. All I knew at the time was that I enjoyed studying history and that if I pursued something that I enjoyed, I would inevitably do well in it, and so it proved. What my History degree afforded me, above all else, was the ability to write, communicate, and analyse effectively – all of which are invaluable and indeed transferable skills that I have taken and applied to my role as a Workplace Financial Education Consultant. Now let me be the first to say that I certainly didn’t expect to be working in the Financial Services industry having completed a history degree, but the fact that this is where I find myself is perhaps testament to the history degree. The varied approach to teaching, coupled with the opportunity to learn and communicate in a multitude of ways, really does lend itself to adopting new ways of thinking and of expressing yourself.
My role now entails going out to organisations and speaking to their people (which can sometimes mean audiences in excess of 100 people…) about the importance of financial wellbeing. This is not something that I knew anything about when studying towards my degree, but rather is something that I have had to learn about along the way. From completing the year-long graduate programme, to studying towards obtaining my Diploma in Financial Services (and just when I thought I was done with all the studying…), the last two and a half years has certainly been varied…! I now regularly find myself travelling the length and breadth of the country for work and every day brings with it its own challenges which I thoroughly enjoy. And as I approach 4 years from the day that I graduated, I owe my thanks to the support and the teaching that I received from the University.
I continue to read history in my spare time, and revel in the knowledge that your standard pub quiz seldom passes without a history round. I am also glad to say that Portsmouth still holds a special place in my heart having bought a house down here. As such, I still regularly attend University open days as an alumni to talk to prospective students about why studying at Portsmouth, and why studying History in particular, is such a great experience. It seems strange in many ways that seven years on from starting my undergraduate degree at the University of Portsmouth I am still able to recount in great detail exactly what happened during my three years of study. What perhaps isn’t so strange however is that I am able to sit here and say unequivocally that my decision to study History at the University of Portsmouth was in no uncertain terms the best decision that I have ever made.