During Rebecca MacRae's BA in Ancient History at the University of Reading, she developed multi-faceted professional skills that led to valued and varied roles at the British Museum and within the charity sector.
Watching the Horrible Histories series as a child sparked Rebecca's love for history and classical civilisation. This spark led to Rebecca's determination to study Ancient History and History at the University of Reading, where the wide choice and flexibility of modules fired her enthusiasm.
Rebecca credits this freedom of choice with the success and enjoyment she found in her degree:
"The course at Reading was perfect because it offered a wide range of topics in both of my subjects – I studied modules such as medieval women, ancient Rome and late antique Egypt."
Choice and flexibility
"While many people choose to narrow their interests as they progress through their degree, I was the opposite: I continued taking advantage of the wide range of modules on offer.
"For example, I took Latin and an archaeology module in my first year despite having no previous experience in either topic; and in my final year I studied Curatorship and Collections Management alongside the ancient Greeks and medieval magic.
"My lecturers were passionate about their subjects, and about helping us to reach our full potential.
"The flexibility to choose from such a wide range of modules and the ability to steer my degree in the direction I wanted, was amazing. This flexibility also allowed me to discover the medieval world, which led to my master's degree in Medieval History at King's College London."
Strong foundations for employability skills
Rebecca's love for history as a child evolved into a desire to work in the heritage sector after university:
"I knew I wanted to experience working in the heritage sector and so I took advantage of the many practical opportunities Reading offered in this field.
"I had volunteered at the Museum of London before university, and I continued to volunteer while at Reading in the Ure Museum located within the Classics Department.
"Later, just before graduation, I secured a paid digital curating internship at the Ure Museum through the Reading Internship Scheme, which focused on social media and the online database."
The skills and knowledge Rebecca took away from volunteering and her Ancient History and History degree contributed directly to her recent roles at the British Museum and with the mental health charity Bipolar UK.
"The experience I had gained during my time at Reading made a significant difference when finding employment. I had developed a huge amount of transferable skills, partly from volunteering and partly from the work I did for my degree.
"My recent roles have concentrated on managing volunteers, a direct result of my experience volunteering during my degree.
"It is amazing how many people donate their time to organisations, and it is an important part of the relationship between an organisation and their community.
"My experience at the British Museum also opened my eyes to community engagement beyond volunteering, and how organisations can reach out and benefit the public. This is partly why my next role was in the mental health charity Bipolar UK, which supports those affected by bipolar.
"I really enjoyed my time at the British Museum, as I do my current role as Peer Support Offer at Bipolar UK. I wouldn't have found such fulfilling roles without the transferable skills I gained at the University of Reading.
"However, the University gave me more than skills. It gave me friends I am still in touch with years later, and the opportunity to grow as an individual and discover what I wanted from the future."
Sharing thoughts with potential undergraduates
Rebecca has some valuable advice for young people who are passionate about classics or history and wish to know how it will fit into their future careers.
"Remember, skills gained during your history degree are extremely transferable and professional.
"So follow your heart when choosing your degree and modules; it will lead to a career you love, and it will enhance your degree outcome as it makes you read and research more because you enjoy doing so.
"Also, take advantage of the experience and opportunities outside of the classroom. You never know how they might inspire you!"