Research Administrator - Emily Thomas

MRes student and Research Administrator
BA Theology and Religion, 2017

What does your role involve?

I’m a Masters student studying for an MRes Theology and Religion at the University of Birmingham. Because it’s a research Masters, I only have a couple of taught modules but a longer dissertation. Alongside my studies, I work for an online think tank run by one of my professors called Euro-Islam for fifteen hours a week. I write articles for the website, help with its social media, and edit research. I normally do three hours of work for this in the morning, before moving onto my Masters work.

How did you get your role?

I applied for a place on the Master’s degree in the autumn term of my final year of my undergraduate degree (2016). I had been on some research placements the previous two summers, and had decided as a result that I wanted to pursue a research qualification in the field of the study of religion. The Euro-Islam role was advertised within my department and I applied for it in October of this year. It has a lot to do with my degree and my interests so I thought it would be a really valuable experience to have on my CV.

What do you enjoy most about it?

I’m really enjoying my work for Euro-Islam at the moment. It’s a field I’m really interested in and allows me to stay up to date with the latest developments within it. I also have a lot of freedom with the role, as I can manage my own time and source my own topics to write on. It also really helps me manage the time I spend on my studies, as I am motivated to get to my desk early so I can get my work done in the morning, and this gives me a kick to get going with my Master’s work in the afternoon.

What’s most challenging?

Occasionally it’s difficult to manage my time between the two commitments when I have a lot of deadlines for my Master’s studies. However, I’ve managed to get myself into a good routine which allows me to commit time to both every day, and I actually really enjoy having Euro-Islam as a distraction from my Master’s commitment sometimes!

How did your time at Birmingham help prepare you for this role?

Because I did the same subject at undergraduate level, the subject-specific knowledge is really useful for my Master’s and also for Euro-Islam. My undergraduate also gave me a lot of opportunities for work experience that I was able to use in my applications for both my Master’s and Euro-Islam. At the end of first year, I worked for a think-tank in London as part of my course’s placement module, and I had a research placement with one of my lecturers during the summer of my second year which allowed me to gain more experience. The placement module as a whole was really useful for helping me understand how my skills could be translated into the working environment, which is a really vital understanding to have when applying for jobs or further study.

What advice would you give to final year students interested in getting in to your field of work?

Definitely go and seek advice from your lecturers and the Careers Network if you’re looking for guidance. It really helped me understand the time frames I was working towards when planning my Master’s applications, and also to plan a Plan B just in case they didn’t work out. They’re great for reassurance too!


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