Sophie Ward: exploring extra-curricular activities at Plymouth laid the foundations for a career in operations

Sophie a graduate of BA (Hons) History as is now an Operations Management Graduate Trainee at Wessex Water.

"I feel very lucky to be able to have a job where I get to work outside almost every day and learn something new from every person I meet.

"My role at Wessex Water is as an Operations Management Graduate Trainee. I’m part of the first cohort of this kind of graduate scheme at Wessex Water, on a thirty-month programme. My work varies massively day to day. Essentially, by the end of the graduate scheme I will have worked in a large cross-section of different departments in operations for a period of time - which could be anything from a few days to six weeks – and get to experience various different job roles and learn from the individuals who are the absolute experts in what they do. I’m really loving it so far; I feel very lucky to be able to have a job where I get to work outside almost every day and learn something new from every person I meet. We are encouraged to think critically and analytically about the business and are supported by many of our phenomenally kind and generous colleagues.

"I took a year after university to apply for graduate jobs and work in order to earn some money. I spent that year working predominantly in retail and applied for my job at Wessex Water in the January. Graduate job applications are lengthy; I secured my job with Wessex Water after three preliminary stages and an assessment centre test. 

"It is a very saturated job market for graduates, but that is why it is so important to find out what you can offer a business through experiences gained either at University or in your free time."

"I found the transition from student life to working life quite seamless as I was excited to get to work and apply for roles. It is true that it is a change social life-wise, but I still see my friends from University regularly on weekends and it feels like no time has passed."

"There had never really been a question of what I wanted to study at University. 

"My favourite subject had always been history, and despite my original career goal being in law, my teacher had advised me to do what I loved at university and then convert to law. During my A-levels, I found I excelled in coursework, but exam season was when I struggled the most. I went through Clearing after not getting the grades I needed for my choices, however in hindsight it was one of the best things to ever happen to me. I had heard some of my friends who were medics talk about how they couldn’t wait to go to the University of Plymouth and loved the city. So when it came to making calls to universities, I called Plymouth. 

"Plymouth were absolutely lovely and such a breath of fresh air on the phone on such a stressful day, when other Universities hadn’t been so kind. I have no regrets whatsoever; my experience at Plymouth was incredible and I loved every minute of it."

"The course itself was really interesting and the lecturers were so generous with their time throughout the modules. Picking modules such as Middle Kingdoms, which were completely new to me, I had to challenge myself to understand new concepts and ways of thinking, which is something I have to do every time I enter a new department during my rotations at work.

"Having spoken to friends who studied history at other universities, the time my lecturers set aside to help with my dissertation and module work was fantastic. The lecturers are brilliant and the modules were varied. You have the freedom to read around the subjects and communicate with the lecturers to explore your own avenues of research, which is incredibly fulfilling.

"I would encourage anyone who is considering studying history at university to look into studying at the University of Plymouth." 


<p>Sophie Ward dissertation hand in&nbsp;</p>
<p>Sophie Ward Graduation</p>

"Making the most of my experience at University was always at the forefront of my mind. 

"I wanted to make the most out of the free time I now had in a new city, living away from home and entering a new level of academia. I went to the Fresher’s Fair with a few of my course mates and joined the History Society and the Exeter University Officer Training Corps (EUOTC).

"The History Society was brilliant, as it meant I had a great social life with my course mates during our busiest year, whilst also improving my professional development by managing my time very efficiently. In my final year I became Secretary of the society. 

"In my second year I was a PALS leader. PALS is the University's Peer Assisted Learning Scheme which allows for learning alongside other students on your course and can give you a greater opportunity to discuss ideas, broaden your knowledge, gain confidence and make friends.

"The Exeter University Officer Training Corps (EUOTC) ended up being my job whilst I was at University, as I got paid for everything I did with them. By third year I was the Senior Under Officer, which came with a variety of responsibilities that both challenged and developed me in ways that have shaped my character and approach to work more than any other role at University could have."

"My time in the EUOTC was some of the most fun I had whilst at University. I had so many opportunities: such as, rock climbing in the Dolomites (as someone who started university pretty terrified of heights), skiing in the Alps, competing at the Army National Swimming Championships, sleeping under a shelter in the middle of Dartmoor watching snow fall in the middle of March, and that’s really not even the half of it. 

"Some of the most hilarious stories and special memories I have of University are of my friends in the EUOTC and the experiences we shared made our bond grow even more every Wednesday training night. 

"The EUOTC also provided chances to develops skills and gain experience in a variety of different environments, as well as meeting friends at neighbouring universities. My appointment in third year as the Senior Under Officer, the lead role for a student across the four Universities that the society spanned, was well known for making third year a very tough balancing act for those who had been in the role in previous years. 

"Like anything though, if you work hard and put the hours in (in my case, in the library), and have an amazing support network like I did in my friends, partner, my family and my dissertation tutor Harry Bennett; you can do whatever you feel is right for you. I would definitely recommend the EUOTC to anyone willing to give it a go."

<p>Sophie Ward climbing 1</p>
<p>Sophie Ward climbing 2</p>
<p>Sophie Ward climbing 3</p>

"I could honestly fill a book with all the weird and wonderful things that happened during my time in Plymouth! 

"The friends I made on my course and in the EUOTC were like my family and I had three absolutely amazing years at the University.

"The main things I would say about university and Plymouth specifically, is to do as much as you can but try and find your own balance. There are so many opportunities available that is very easy to forget why you filled out the UCAS documentation in the first place. The degree is the goal, but that doesn’t discount the fact that it is three years to build your CV in a smart and effective way. Use the time when you have your friends and lecturers on your doorstep to find out how best you work and gain a better appreciation of how you ‘work smarter, not harder'.

"The job application process is rigorous and if I could give any advice to those who are still at University, it’s that you should start building up your CV as soon as possible and get interview practice! In one of our first lectures, I remember the history lecturers saying that we should make the most out of all the opportunities we had and that employers would not just be looking at our degree, but what we did alongside it. That advice really resonated with me and if any of my University friends were to read this it would probably all make sense to them now."

"Additionally outside of the academics, I had the most amazing time in Plymouth and met some of the most incredible and interesting people doing courses that spanned every department. Plymouth is the perfect student city and my time at the University of Plymouth has shaped me into the person I am today.

"One of the many highlights was two of my friends, who were studying engineering, teaching me how to surf as a study break one day. Later that year we then went to Bovisand beach as a big group at Christmas and surfed with our Santa hats on in the bone-chilling December swell."

It’s often said that the best way to see the future is to understand the past. History with Plymouth helps you do just that, while gaining the professional skills you’ll need throughout your career. Exploring five centuries of human history, you’ll encounter political intrigue, cultural transformation, war, sex and revolution across the globe. Take the lead in your research projects and choose areas of study from our flexible range of modules, creating a tailor-made degree. 

You’ll graduate with the problem-solving and analytical abilities that will give you the edge in the world of work.
 

Study BA (Hons) History