Sam joined the School of History in 2009 studying War Studies (now Military History). He has gone on to a career with IHS Jane’s as a defence industry analyst. You can watch the employability talk he gave on gathering open source intelligence, and writing for reference and for news, below:
- What attracted you to study at Kent?
Two things; 1) Canterbury was as far from my home town of Weymouth as it was possible to get, this made me independent and gave me stimulus to pursue what I was truly interested in. 2) The course was varied and allowed greater choice than those offered by Kings. I also wasn’t a big fan of London.
- How did you find your course?
I loved debating within each separate module, and the chance to study anything from the Classics to the Falklands War meant I could finally academically study the Romans, a civilisation which I have an abiding curiosity in. I could also engaged in analysis of modern warfare and the human suffering it entails, a subject that eventually formed the basis for my dissertation. I particularly enjoyed the way that professors, lecturers and seminar leaders encouraged me to question previous authors. Especially when this led to debates on their own works. In sum it was a great course that was challenging at times but provided a great breadth of topics to study and an encouraging environment to discuss them in.
What did you think of the teaching?
The teaching was often question orientated, the seminar leader coaxing information and thought processes out of the class using insights and debates to stimulate discussion. We were free to develop our own streams of thought, and teaching staff would frequently lend support in terms of literature and personal knowledge to strengthen and improve theories. At times my theories were challenged in debate, I found this a valuable experience as it proved I could build an argument and defend it, as it is a skill that is needed throughout the working world.
- What did you think of the facilities on campus?
The library was good, although I could never work in there without falling asleep and snoring, but I enjoyed the books and used frequently sections asides from history such as law and philosophy to create and support my arguments. The different bars and the green spaces are great and give the feel that you are nestled in the countryside somehow. And the coffee in Dolce Vita is really good!
- What did you think of the level of support available to you?
Academic support was always available and I had many discussions with lecturers out of seminar hours. I tend to work independently until something goes badly wrong but I knew that if, and when that did happen there would be staff on hand willing to help.
- Did you take part in any extra-curricular activities, and if so, how did you find them?
I tried to set up a shooting society, the student bodies supporting it at the time were great and were very interested. But I struggled to find the space to set it up! Never mind, it was fun to try. I also went to a lot of the guest lectures that were held by the War Studies course, including one by Anthony Beevor, these were very interesting and I hope one day to return the favour somehow!
- Did you take on any work experience placements during your studies? If so, what support did you receive from the School in securing/completing this?
None – I pretty much held down a job as a waiter/chef for my entire degree, which helped finance my degree and many nights out.
- How do you think your studies have helped your career prospects?
I feel my degree at UKC has made me a strong minded and independent person. I am willing to stand my ground over the things that I believe and stand up for myself in interviews because I have confidence in my education and capabilities.
- What are you doing now?
I am a senior Land Platform Analyst at the defence information publishing company Jane’s. I spend my time researching all of the land combat vehicles in the world and creating reference entries for each vehicle. This goes from finding each variant of the venerable T-72 family, the name of the armour and gun that goes on them to writing about something called Didgori, deployed and built by Georgia. I also write news reports and articles on developments within the defence industry, my first published piece covered a partnership between two firms to bring their products up to NATO standards. I will also be attending the DSEI defence fair this coming September!
- What are your future career plans?
I have a few plans or career goals; one is to become a subject matter expert in armoured fighting vehicles (AFVs), this will involve writing at least three books on AFVs and continuously developing my knowledge in this field. Another personal career goal is to write a book covering the history of Britain by theme from 1945 to today, that way we can all understand the madness of the NHS and maybe why England can’t win a world cup! In the long run I would like to move into an intellectual sphere, although I have no idea how or when!
- What advice would you give to anyone thinking of studying History at Kent?
UKC is the place to go if you want to live a good student life. There’s a place called La Trappiste with 200 Belgian beers – try one called Kasteel Rouge if you go! You’re close to beaches and the country side, and there’s a hotel in the Cathedral grounds that is always looking for staff.
From a course point of view the research conducted by staff at Kent is at the forefront of its field, this ensures you will always have the most current and relevant insights close to hand so make sure you ask for it. The support teams are actively seeking ways to expand what is on offer in terms of career guidance, this will undoubtedly benefit you at a later date so use it and ask for it. You also won’t have to live in London and can walk anywhere so do that, there are shortcuts everywhere.
Finally, be confident in what you are studying and the skills you are gaining, studying History means that more than anyone (except maybe psychologists) you understand people, what they do and why they do these things. You can turn this skill set to literally anything, yes teaching and lecturing but also personal training and consultancy. So be confident in your skills and seek the opportunities that you know will help you.