Lisa Berry-Waite: working towards my career
Lisa loved history from a young age and wanted to study something she was passionate about at University. Unsure of what she wanted to do as a career, history - with its transferable skills and wide range of career prospects - really appealed to her, as did the many opportunities Reading offers for working out your career.
"I studied my BA in History and Politics at the University of Reading, then decided to stay here and study the MA History course."
"The History Department at the University of Reading focuses significantly on the potential career paths of its students and encourages you to think about this from your first year."
"From career lectures, to placement modules and guest speakers, I found this very useful as it helped me to start thinking about the types of careers I was interested in."
Experiencing real work environments
Lisa took advantage of the placement opportunities Reading offered to work out what she wanted to do after graduation:
"I secured four internships during my time at Reading which have all been very varied, enabling me to gain a wide range of experience and skills. Between my second and third year I undertook two internships, both sourced by the Reading Internship Scheme. This scheme is run by the careers centre who source internships in and around the Reading area. My first role was a Social Media and Collections Intern at the Museum of English Rural Life; my second internship was as a Marketing and Fundraising Intern at a local charity - after finishing this internship I continued to work for them one day a week during my third year of University. I then did a Heritage and Museum internship with Humboldt University in Berlin, which was organised with the Museum of English Rural Life.
I am now interning for a month with Rachel Reeves MP in her Westminster office which is extremely exciting. This role is research-focused which I am really enjoying; my main project has been researching for a book she is writing on female MPs. Being able to use my historical skills and undertake a range of research trips to archives around the country has definitely been a highlight."
"These internships have enabled me to develop a variety of skills and given me a wide range of experiences and insights into different sectors. The University of Reading, and the Museum of English Rural Life have been incredibly supportive in helping me secure and complete these internships."
Lisa also seized the work experience opportunities the History Department offered outside of placements:
"The different opportunities that were available to students at Reading really stands out to me."
"I visited Parliament on the "Battleaxes and benchwarmers" third-year module, worked in an archive one day a week on the "Discovering archives and collections" module, and curated a pop-up exhibition at Cliveden House Hotel, gaining hands-on experience in the heritage sector.
Curating the pop-up exhibition was one of the best experiences I've had at University. It was part of a team project in my third year - we chose documents from the Nancy Astor Archive at the University of Reading's Special Collections, to display at Cliveden House Hotel, which was Nancy's former home (Nancy was the first woman to take her seat in the House of Commons). We focused on themes such as women's suffrage and the Cliveden Estate. Being able to discuss the exhibition with visitors and seeing all our hard work pay off was amazing. This was a fantastic experience and is great to talk about at interviews as it has improved my teamwork and communication skills."
Discovering my passion
Lisa relished the wide range of history and expertise available at Reading, as it enabled her to discover and pursue her passion:
"Reading enabled me to take modules in areas I had never studied before and I discovered my passion for political and gender history in twentieth-century Britain. I was able to tailor my degree to focus on this period which I absolutely loved."
"I decided to stay at Reading for my master's to continue my research on female MPs in the interwar period - I didn't want to give it up! I have my lecturers to thank for encouraging me to apply to do my MA, and with the expertise of Dr Jacqui Turner and Professor Matthew Worley, who specialise in political and gender history in the twentieth century, in the Department, I wanted to continue my historical research with them. Long term, I have just secured a fully funded PhD at the University of Exeter on the election promises of female candidates in the 1920s and am excited to continue my research.
I have always felt at home in the History Department at Reading. After I graduate, I know I'll keep in contact with my dissertation supervisors and have loved working with them. I can't thank them enough for the support they've given me, always going the extra mile and supporting me with both my academic studies and career pursuits."