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What Do You Actually Do?

What Do You Actually Do?

By UoY Careers and Placements

Find out what people actually do in their jobs, the skills they use and how they got there. A podcast from the Careers and Placements team at the University of York.
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Currently playing episode

Placement year in a political think tank, with Andrew Gloag

What Do You Actually Do?Jan 15, 2020

Human-centred design in the cultural sector
Dec 06, 202328:45
Service Designer
Nov 22, 202327:59
Engineer at National Grid
Nov 08, 202326:41
Consultant in the heritage industry: helping galleries, theatres and museums
Oct 18, 202321:13
Placement year in recruitment 🧑‍💼

Placement year in recruitment 🧑‍💼

Pretty much any student at York can do a placement year or year in industry! And right now second/middle year students can register for the programme. With that in mind, we thought it would make sense to speak to a York student just back from a year out in the world of work.

Toby studies History and spent his placement year working in recruitment for Reed. It sounded like a lot of fun. In this episode, he tells Kate what recruitment is like and why everyone, especially History students, should go for the placement year. Enjoy!

There is a full transcript and useful links on our blog.

Toby's bio:

Originally from Nottingham, I came to York to study History. I found myself unsure of what to do with my future, and figured why not apply for a placement. So I've spent the last 12 months in London, working in Recruitment, and I'm now excited to come back to university to complete my final year. While I've loved London, I've missed the greenery of the north and I'm excited to be able to go on long walks in the countryside again! London's too much of a concrete jungle for my liking!

Oct 04, 202326:45
Climate Communications Consultant
Jun 07, 202333:29
Working in rail industry: life as an engineer at Network Rail
May 24, 202325:15
Senior Estate Manager - English Heritage
May 10, 202321:09
Investigative journalist
Apr 26, 202333:34
Speech and Language Therapist (SLT)
Mar 01, 202326:34
Executive producer in TV

Executive producer in TV

Want to work in the television industry? Tim Dean knows how to make it happen! He graduated from York with a degree in Social Policy and now has 20 years' experience in TV. Tim and Kate talk about how he got into the industry, why you don't need a media degree and what it's actually like producing TV every day.

Transcript and useful links on the blog.

Tim's bio:

BAFTA and RTS award winning Executive Producer with over 20 years’ experience in TV. I've run a whole array of different shows from juggernaut brands like ‘Ant and Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway’ and ‘Take Me Out’ through to chat shows such as 'Lateish with Mo Gilligan' and 'The Big Narstie Show' and created brand new formats from scratch like ‘In For A Penny'. I've worked with a range of talent from Simon Cowell and Harry Styles through to David Walliams and Kelly Rowland and love making noisy blockbuster TV filled with edge of your seat excitement and drama.

Feb 15, 202325:15


Kate talks to York graduate Jack about training to be a barrister. Jack studied History and decided to train as a barrister after completing the Teach First Programme. Jack explains what skills you need, what he does each day and how you shouldn't be put off by thinking it isn't a career for you.

Full transcript and useful links on the blog.

Jack's bio:

Hi, I'm Jack, a graduate of the University of York and aspiring barrister. I graduated with a BA in History in 2015 and decided to pursue a career at the Bar in 2019, after completing the Teach First Programme. My route into the legal profession has (so far) involved two years of study (GDL and Bar Course), a year working for a judge at the Court of Appeal and a few months working at a litigation firm in Toronto. I will begin my pupillage (which is essentially a year-long apprenticeship) in Autumn 2023.

Feb 01, 202319:30
Imposter syndrome: how to deal with it in university, work and everyday life
Jan 18, 202349:21
Digital archaeologist and entrepreneur

Digital archaeologist and entrepreneur

Bethany is a York graduate and director of Experience Heritage, where she uses her expertise in archaeology and interest in digital storytelling to bring history to live in innovative ways. That could mean augmented reality experiences, interactive heritage apps and digital animation.

Bethany tells us how she started her own company after realising there was a gap in the market where she could combine her interests in archaeology and storytelling. 

There's a full transcript and useful links on our blog. 

Bethany's bio: Bethany is a digital archaeologist and entrepreneur. She has studied film, archaeology and digital heritage and began Experience Heritage in 2018 after receiving her Masters with distinction from University of York. She's passionate about bringing history to life and making heritage more accessible for more people.

Nov 16, 202223:08
Running a startup

Running a startup

Interested in startups or working for yourself? That's what this episode is all about. Toby Cannon graduated from York in 2019 with a degree in Computer Science. He now runs Myles, a startup that began as an app allowing people to complete virtual challenges by tracking their fitness activity. He explains what his day looks like, what it takes to work in a startup and what students can do to follow in his footsteps.

There's a full transcript and useful links on our blog.

Toby's bio:

After graduating in 2019 Toby joined Capital One as a Software Development Engineer, working on a range of products which are used by millions of people. At the start of the pandemic, he launched Myles initially as a tool to keep himself and his family motivated with their fitness goals. The company has grown since then and he's now full time on the business and is part of a team of four, with clients including Dell, Brewin Dolphin and Capital One.

Nov 02, 202224:58
Placement Year in the NHS

Placement Year in the NHS

Vinusha is a York History student who completed a placement year in the NHS Cheshire Clinical Commissioning Group as a Quality and Safeguarding Support Officer. Vinusha explains what she got out of her placement and has tips for current students starting their placement or work experience search.

Full transcript and useful links on our blog.

Vinusha's bio:

I am currently a History undergraduate student who is completing a placement year at the NHS Cheshire Clinical Commissioning Group. Although my degree and the NHS may not appear to have a direct link, I have an interest to work in the public sector, in particular social services. I also have a passion for Arts and Humanities which is why I have a chosen to complete a History degree.

Oct 19, 202223:14
Journalism researcher at the BBC

Journalism researcher at the BBC

Want a job in research? Or interested in working in the media? This episode is for you. Today Kate talks to Lucy, York grad and current Journalism Researcher at BBC News, about what her job is actually like.

There's a full transcript and useful links on our blog.

Lucy's Bio:

Lucy is a Journalism Researcher at BBC News, specialising in home and social affairs. Before joining the BBC, she worked as a Research Assistant at a policy think tank in Cambridge. After graduating from York in 2017 with a degree in English and History, Lucy spent a year in China and shortly afterwards studied for a master's degree in Social Anthropology from the University of Cambridge.

Oct 05, 202227:10
Life as a CEO: running Cafédirect

Life as a CEO: running Cafédirect

Think you want to be a CEO? Interested in marketing, fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) or the world of ethical business? This episode is for you. John Steel is the CEO of Cafédirect and has worked his way up through a number of FMCG businesses after beginning his career in a marketing grad scheme.

Even if you're not interested in this area of work, it's worth listening for John's insights into finding value in your working life.

Find a transcript and useful links on our blog.

More about John and Cafédirect:

Cafédirect’s CEO, John Steel, is a business leader and social entrepreneur with a passion for making business a force for good.
Under John’s leadership Cafedirect has returned to growth, become profitable and yet maintained its sustainability commitments to its producers. 

John is determined that Cafédirect, as one of the UK’s pre-eminent Social Enterprises, plays a pivotal role in leading the change agenda. In 2018 Cafédirect became the 1st coffee company in the UK to be B Corp certified and was recognised as the Social Enterprise of the Year.
John Steel first pursued a career in marketing, with organisations such as Nestle and Weetabix. Subsequently John held leadership positions in both large corporations and start-up businesses. 

John is a passionate and genuine believer in the need for real change in the way business contributes to society and the wider world. He works tirelessly to share Cafédirect’s unique approach.

Jun 08, 202221:29
Financial services
May 25, 202233:08
Working in international development

Working in international development

This episode is for anyone interested in international development or the humanitarian sector. Rob Simmons works in Somalia for Committed to Good and was speaking to Kate from a shipping container at the airport in Mogadishu. Rob tells us what you need to get into this kind of work, the best bits and the worst bits. He also shares his advice on how students can approach people working in the sector.

There's a full transcript and useful links on our blog.

Rob's bio:

Rob completed a master's degree in Post-war Recovery Studies at York and now works in Somalia as the Deputy Country Manager for Committed to Good, providing services to the United Nations to help them deliver their projects in high-risk areas. Before that he worked in Mine Action in Sri Lanka and Cambodia. Before studying at York, Rob spent 12 years in the British Army.

May 11, 202222:45
Student Internship Bureau special

Student Internship Bureau special

Did you know that each summer loads of York students do an internship through the Student Internship Bureau (SIB)? SIB advertises paid, project-based internships in and around York that are exclusively for York students.

In this episode Kate talks to Ashley, an Interactive Media student who recently completed an internship as a graphic designer at Experience Heritage. She talks about what it's like being an intern and the skills she learned. If you're an international student you'll be especially interested to hear Ashley's advice.

Interested in doing your own internship this summer? Vacancies are live right now! Find out more and browse the internships on our SIB webpage.

Ashley's bio: Ashley is an international student from Singapore with a deep passion for digital art and design, currently taking York's Interactive Media degree. She enjoys getting involved in the creative scene, be it through internships, York Creatives' events or being part of the HARD Magazine Committee.

There's a full transcript and useful links on our blog.

Apr 27, 202217:57
What do you actually do if you're graduating in a global pandemic?!: 2022 edition

What do you actually do if you're graduating in a global pandemic?!: 2022 edition

Mar 16, 202242:09
Environmental Consultant

Environmental Consultant

Kadi is an environmental consultant who coordinates and project manages the environmental inputs for big infrastructure projects. She's also a York Environmental Science graduate. In this episode Kadi and Kate talk about what she does each day, the parts of the job she likes the most, and what York students interested in environmental consulting can do right now to prepare for their future careers.

Find a full transcript and useful links on our blog.

Kadi's bio:

Kadi is an Environmental Consultant at Jacobs with three years' experience in coordinating environmental inputs for infrastructure projects. She has worked on road, rail, waste water and flood alleviation projects for private and public sector clients. In addition to technical environmental elements from air quality to land contamination, her role includes project management such as managing budgets, programme, resources and risks. She is passionate about connecting people through employee networks, STEM and a book club. Kadi graduated from York in 2018 with a MEnv in Environmental Science with a Year in Industry.

Mar 02, 202222:31
University widening participation officer

University widening participation officer

Interested in a non-academic job in higher education? In this episode Kate talks to Victoria Brooks about her job as Widening Participation and Outreach Project Officer at the University of Liverpool. This is a really interesting area of higher education work. Read the blog for a transcript and some useful links.

Victoria's bio:

Victoria is currently working at a Russell Group University in Widening Participation, where she supports groups of young people from underrepresented or disadvantaged backgrounds into higher education. She has experience in research and evaluation around the topic as well as planning and delivering large scale events for a wide range of stakeholders.

Feb 16, 202220:08
Engineer - European Space Agency

Engineer - European Space Agency

Neil studied Physics with Philosophy at York and has been working at the European Space Agency since 2002. His full job title is Parabolic Flight and Drop Tower Coordinator and Payload Systems Engineer. Listen to the episode to find out more about exactly what he does, how he managed to get the job and his advice for students wanting a similar career. The transcript and useful links are on our blog.

Want some help researching this career area? Come see us in the Careers and Placements building on Campus West or book an appointment.

Neil's bio:

After graduating with an MPhys in 2002 I joined ESA as a trainee in their Education Office. I learnt Systems Engineering and Team Management via a series of intense, hands-on projects.  Head-hunted for a staff post in the Human and Robotic Exploration Directorate in 2008, I now develop payloads for various missions (including the International Space Station), and run ESA's Parabolic Flight Programme.

Feb 02, 202224:49
Prison Officer (Unlocked Graduate scheme)

Prison Officer (Unlocked Graduate scheme)

In this episode Kate talks to Dan, a York graduate working as a prison officer on the Unlocked grad scheme. Find related links and a transcript of this episode on our blog.

Dan's bio:

Dan is a 2019 graduate from the University of York and currently a band three prison officer in a category B local remand men’s prison.

He was placed and supported by Unlocked Graduates, a graduate leadership development programme that 'recruits outstanding graduates and career changers to become exceptional prison officers.' It offers a fully funded and tailored MSc to graduates on the programme.

Dan works with some of the most vulnerable people in society with the aim of reducing recidivism rates and creating long lasting change in our criminal justice system.

Jan 19, 202232:38
Thanks for listening this autumn - here's what's coming up in Spring term
Dec 01, 202101:58
Management Consultant
Nov 17, 202128:59
Film composer
Nov 03, 202133:08
Aldi Graduate Area Manager Programme

Aldi Graduate Area Manager Programme

The Aldi grad scheme has a reputation for being challenging, giving its grads a lot of responsibility and having great benefits. After 15 weeks on the scheme you'll be put in charge of a store and after a year you'll be an Area Manager. In this episode Heather Wilkinson tells us about how she got on the scheme and what it's actually like.

Heather spent five years as an Area Manager with Aldi after going through the Aldi Graduate Area Manager Programme. In that time she managed five stores and was responsible for around 150 employees. She graduated with a degree in History and recently started a new role as Operations Manager at Amazon.

Find useful links and a full transcript of this episode on our blog.

Oct 20, 202117:21
Civil Service Fast Stream

Civil Service Fast Stream

The Civil Service Fast Stream is one of the most popular grad schemes in the country and the Times Top 100 number 1 graduate employer. In this episode, Kate talks to Will Simpson, a current Fast Streamer, about what he actually does all day, the best and worst bits, and his advice for students applying to the scheme.

Will graduated from York in 2020 with a BA in Politics and is currently on the Civil Service Fast Stream in the HR scheme. He’s based in the Department for Work and Pensions.

Check out some useful links related to this episode and a full transcript on our blog.

Oct 06, 202123:16
Six key questions you need to know the answers to if you’re graduating in 2021
Aug 23, 202142:09
That's it for another season - but stay tuned for a graduation special in August!
Jun 23, 202100:42
Training to be a lawyer, with Alex Stewart-Moreno
Jun 09, 202138:37
How to make a portfolio career work
May 26, 202142:55
Changing careers: switching heritage for accounting, with Alice Yevko
May 12, 202128:52
Working in heritage: In the archive in lockdown
Apr 28, 202130:33
Changing fast: working in agile project management, with Alison Critchley
Mar 17, 202131:43
English grad to junior doctor: Graduate medicine and beyond, with Ian Henderson
Mar 03, 202119:03
Running an advertising firm, with Luke D'Arcy
Feb 17, 202137:47
Exploring clinical science, with John Filby
Feb 03, 202123:20
Talking census: a career in genealogy, with Christina Copland
Jan 20, 202130:17
Leading innovation in the legal sector, with Alexander Malt
Dec 02, 202020:15
Making a splash, with Tom Pagett
Dec 02, 202018:53
From TV to tech, with Vivien Chung
Nov 04, 202028:29
Life as a social worker, with Bethany Pease
Oct 21, 202020:50
A career in corporate social responsibility, with Daniel Arda
Oct 07, 202030:01
What do you actually do if you're graduating in a global pandemic?!, with Tom Banham
Jun 17, 202031:19
Making Medicine, with Tom Ronson

Making Medicine, with Tom Ronson

Tom works as a process development chemist at the pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca. He is part of the Chemical Development department, which is responsible for developing efficient and robust manufacturing processes for active pharmaceutical ingredients. He holds a PhD in chemistry from the University of York.

Jun 03, 202019:30
Flirting with Algorithms, with Harpal Sahota

Flirting with Algorithms, with Harpal Sahota

Harpal Sahota is a data scientist at MagicLab, who operate a number of dating apps, including Bumble & Lumen. He studied an MA in Computational Biology at the University of York, and went on to take a PhD in Computational Biology at University of London, before entering the job market, working for the likes of YouGov before settling at MagicLab, where he has worked since January 2020.

May 20, 202012:27