What are you doing now?
I’m currently a MOD Personnel Access Service Advisor at The National Archives (a bit of a mouthful!)
Which course did you study at Kent?
I studied Military History
What attracted you to your course, and to Kent?
Kent was one of the few universities which offered a BA in Military History and, after coming down to Canterbury for the open days, I was sold. I fell in love with the city and knew it was the place for me. The course also offered a lot of interesting avenues for study and so I could hardly say no!
Which aspects of time at Kent did you enjoy the most, and why?
Aside from everything? Surprisingly, I really enjoyed researching and writing my dissertation. Getting to look at original documents to figure out what compelled the British soldiers of the Napoleonic Wars to enlist and fight in the army was a really novel experience, and I loved being able to give voices to these often overlooked men.
I was also very lucky to be in quite a small course, and so was able to make many close friends at Kent who shared my (perhaps misguided) love of Military History.
What impressed you most about our academic staff?
The dedication and commitment to students really impressed me throughout my degree. I knew that if ever I had a problem, or something that needed to be worked out, I was only a quick email or meeting away from one of my lecturers. I was incredibly lucky in the support I received from my tutor and other lecturers.
“The things you don’t really consider – like being able to write essays and give presentations – has also proven to be quite important when writing research reports on records collations, and when explaining to colleagues just what it is our team does!”
Which skills/knowledge did you learn on your course that you use most now in your career?
Well, I look at historic military documents most days, so being able to understand just what on earth they are talking about certainly helps! The knowledge gained through the various modules I took at Kent really have helped put the records I deal with into context.
The things you don’t really consider – like being able to write essays and give presentations – has also proven to be quite important when writing research reports on records collations, and when explaining to colleagues across The National Archives just what it is our team does!
Are you still in touch with any of your fellow students?
Fortunately, some of my best friends today are people I was lucky to meet on my course, and I meet up with them regularly. Working at The National Archives, I’m also able to keep in touch and meet up with some of my old lecturers!
Did you undertake any work experience whilst at Kent? What did you do? Did you find it was helpful in your studies and has it benefited your career to date?
I worked as a History Student Outreach Ambassador at local schools. I was able to go into schools and help deliver educational content to students, which helped with gaining other perspectives on how people view history. Now, I’m able to think about how other groups (aside from history students!) can engage with history, something that could prove useful at TNA.
I also worked as a tour guide for Canterbury Historic River Tours down in the city centre – rowing you up and down the River Stour in three quarters of an hour! With this very unique job, I’ve been able to pull out some interesting things to talk about in job interviews!
Could you describe a typical day in your current role?
Typically, I’ll start the day by going through the emails my team receives, and filtering the various requests into the records that are currently being transferred from the Ministry of Defence. This transfer of documents is the largest transfer in The National Archives’ history, and is made up of military personnel records – very popular with the public! After that, I’ll then sort through the records we’ve ordered for that day, researching into the records to find requested information, processing copies of the records, and drinking lots of coffee! (not near the records)
What are your future plans/aspirations?
As The National Archives is a government department, I’d love to continue working within the Civil Service. Whether that’s staying at TNA for this massive project or moving elsewhere. Then again, if the world starts to open up more, the urge to travel is always there!
What is your favourite memory of Kent?
There’s too many to choose from! But if I had to choose one, it would be the Military History Society’s battlefield trip to Normandy in 2018. As Vice-President, I helped plan and run the trip, and look back really fondly on that time.
What advice would you give to somebody thinking of coming to Kent?
Throw yourself into absolutely everything you can! You’re only young once so why not try out that really obscure society? Also, make sure to take a river tour with Canterbury Historic River Tours – tell them Jack sent you!