DMU students are making history in the workplace

History students at De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) are benefiting from a pioneering course module, demonstrating the wide range of career options available to them.

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Genna Pugh at the press conference with Wiltshire Police during her placement

From volunteering with local people to working with big brands, second-year students who choose the optional History in the Workplace module are supported to gain valuable work experience through 30 to 35-hour placements.

Student Genna Pugh worked as a reporter for Positive Media Group in Swindon, writing for its two print publications - the Swindon Link magazine and The Ocelot - and online platforms.

“One of my highlights was going to a press conference with Wiltshire Police on my first day. It gave me the opportunity to meet local and national news outlets, including BBC News, as well as to report on ‘real’ news first-hand,” said the 19-year-old from Wiltshire.

“Another highlight was getting my own article published about the remaining and disappearing built heritage of Swindon – it felt great having my name in print for everyone to see.”

Fulfilling her longstanding interest in journalism, Genna’s placement has helped to prepare her for the future. She said: “It confirmed that this is a career I definitely want to pursue after university.

“I’ve made some good contacts so I can potentially get more work experience to give me a better chance of getting a job in this area after I graduate.”

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Millie Newman

Fellow coursemate Callum Briers volunteered at Leicester’s Warning Zone, a life-skills centre and safeguarding charity for children.

From online safety to knife crime, his role involved guiding groups of children through eight different interactive zones with simulated activities such as retrieving a football from a mock building site and starting a fake fire to see how it spreads.

“It’s important to explain to 10-year-olds that they can get a criminal record, so everything they do now can affect the rest of their lives,” said the 21-year-old from Warwickshire.

“It’s done in a lighthearted way though and I think they liked having a younger guide they could relate to.”

Callum, who continued to volunteer at the charity after his placement ended, said: “If I could find a paid role like this in the future, it’s definitely something I would consider doing. This experience is something extra to add to my CV, which will hopefully help to set me apart.”

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Millie Newman’s placement was at Leicester’s award-winning King Richard III Visitor Centre. She worked with the marketing team to create instructions for medieval games aimed at visiting children, as well as a short film depicting the relationship between the king and his wife.

The 19-year-old from Northamptonshire said: “I was pleasantly surprised that I could make use of my creative skills within a historical environment and it has certainly opened up new work paths.

“It’s important to experience a professional environment and to understand the roles that are out there after university, especially if you’re like me and you haven’t completely decided on a career.”

As part of the module, students attend practical sessions on writing CVs, covering letters and interview techniques, and are assessed on a presentation and reflective log following their placement.

Dave Dee, Associate Professor in Modern History at DMU, said: “This module gives students the chance to test out an idea career-wise and gain valuable employability information, as well as making them aware of the versatility of their historic studies.

“Some are inspired to go onto year-long placements and many continue to take up shorter placements and volunteering opportunities during their final year. It can also set them up nicely for PGCE and postgraduate applications.”

Posted on Friday 30th August 2019

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