Beyond Graduation 3: Catching up with Tom Jackson

As part of his ‘Literature at Work’ placement, current student Carl Shepherd has been catching up with some of the recent Literature graduates we fortunately didn’t need to say goodbye to… Because they’re still here and now working for the University!

In our third installment, we hear from Tom Jackson.

 Welcome back to YSJ – Beyond Graduation: the blog series that aims to shed light on the graduate positions available to us here at York St. John Unviersity.

My past two entries have focused on two English Literature graduates who are both undertaking internships at YSJ. In today’s post, I want to share a slightly different conversation I had with Tom Jackson: a Programme Administrator within the School Admin Unit, and a current PhD student here at York St. John University.

Giving him a “unique experience” on both sides of the desk, Tom graduated with a BA in English Literature and an MA in Contemporary Literature, before starting a humanities-based PhD here two years ago. Balancing this with his role as a member of staff, Tom’s dual status at YSJ reveals the employment opportunities available to those of us who may want to continue studying – without sacrificing either professional or academic development.

Tom’s role requires him to be a “central point of assistance for programme staff and students”, offering “help and information on assignment submissions, programme information and general University policies”. Linking to his experience in English Literature, Tom also is “responsible for editing the School of Education webpages, ensuring that they are on-brand”.

As discovered in my previous interviews, Tom’s experience as a student at YSJ thoroughly aided him (and continues to do so, as he works towards his PhD) throughout his transition from student to employee. Reflecting on this, Tom explained to me how he understands the “unique pressures” that surround student life, as a student who has experienced YSJ from every angle. More practically, Tom credits his degrees for teaching him how to “write with precision and brevity” – which is vital, he says, to his role as a Programme Administrator.

I think it’s interesting how Tom’s role is so directly student facing. Whilst the University can offer us administrative and marketing-based positions (which are great!), I think it’s worth considering how a more hands-on role could really capitalise on our experiences at YSJ. Reflecting on this, Tom tells me that his “understanding of the student experience influences how I tackle certain problems, and how I engage with students” – which highlights how a role like Tom’s would be ideal for us as graduates. “Sell your student experience; for student-facing roles, this can often be invaluable”, Tom aptly summarises.

Looking to the future, Tom’s “ultimate goal is to get into academia” – which both his current role and his PhD are perfectly geared towards. “Working at the University allows me to keep my ear to the ground and keep up-to-date with developments in High Education”, Tom explains. Reflecting on this, the main takeaway here – I think – is how post-graduate employment at YSJ can be matched to furthering your education. So, if you want to study a Masters (and beyond!) without missing out on professional development – perhaps employment at York St. John University is just what you’re looking for.

If you are interested in taking a similar path to Tom, I think his advice for graduates who want to work within the University is a great way to close:

Go for it! Research the job and fully understand the role that you are applying to. Familiarise yourself with the systems that the University uses: Excel, Word, Access, Moodle, E: Vision.