|Contemporary History and International Politics|
|The Money and Mental Health Policy Institute|
|Charity and voluntary sector|
|Small business (0-49 employees)|
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A day in the life of a Research Officer in the United Kingdom
I have always been interested in research and I was able to develop the required skills during my undergraduate and postgraduate at York.
Briefly describe the organisation you work for
Money and Mental Health is an independent charity set up by Martin Lewis, committed to breaking the link between financial difficulty and mental health problems. It conducts research, develops practical policy solutions and works in partnership with both those providing services and those using them to find what really works.
What do you do?
As research officer I help the Research and Policy team with the different ongoing research projects. This can include conducting surveys or focus groups with the Money and Mental Health Research Community, or analysing government data. I am also involved with helping to develop the Mental Health Accessible programme, which includes evaluating essential service providers against the accessible standards.
Reflecting upon your past employment and education, what led you to your current career choice?
I have always been interested in research and I was able to develop the required skills during my undergraduate and postgraduate at York. I first started as an intern at a small think tank where I was involved with their ongoing research projects and was really interested in public opinion. Through this I then joined a polling and market research company where I undertook research projects for clients (who ranged from charities to political parties) on a wide variety of topics. I've always been interested in understanding economic problems in our society and mental health has been close to my heart for some time, but I've also had a passion for trying to make a difference.
Is your current job sector different from what you thought you would enter when you graduated?
Describe your most memorable day at work
I've only just started my current role but hearing about the different research projects that are ongoing as well as the different ideas being thought of that will really help people with a mental health and money problem during the current coronavirus crisis is really inspiring.
Are there any challenges associated with your job?
In research you are always constrained by factors such as time or funding, which means you are always limited in what you can find out. When I worked in the polling industry, what was challenging was trying to make sure that the research we conducted on behalf of clients met their demands while maintaining research standards and ethics.
What’s your work environment and culture like?
Although I've only been there for a week and have started remotely given everything going on, it seems like a really great working environment and culture. Wellbeing is embedded within the organisation and everyone is very nice and looks out for each other. I'm really excited for the next few weeks. This isn't always the case though, I have been in some companies where there is a toxic work environment but even there I still made friends with the people I worked with. I think it comes down to senior management and the decisions they make.
What extracurricular activities did you undertake at university and what transferable skills did you develop through these?
Definitely the most relevant extracurricular activity was I joined the York Student Think Tank. I got to be involved in a research project that introduced me to different research techniques that I have only become more experienced in as I've grown through my career. Not only did I develop my research skills, I also worked in a team and improved my organisational skills. These were already being developed through my course but I think because of the way the Think Tank worked, it helped prepare me for the world of work.
What would you like to do next with your career?
I would like to continue in the sector I am currently in and would like to become a more senior member of a research team,
What top tips do you have for York students preparing for today’s job market and life after graduation?
Don't think you have to have a set route that will take you exactly where you want to be. Most people's routes will be a zig-zag and you might move around a lot.
If you get an internship, make sure you throw yourself into the experience because you might gain experiences in other areas or be able to meet good contacts.
When you're applying for a job make sure you look closely at the job description and tailor your CV and cover letter as closely as possible. Then when you get an interview, make sure you research the organisation, you want to get to know more about the way that they work and the previous work that they have done.
Don't be too worried about interviews. A lot of places (especially in research) will also have a test that interviewees will have to take. These are good because they catch out people who are extremely confident and excel at interviews but don't have the exact skills.
What topics from students are you happy to answer questions on?
How to get into research
How to get into the sector
The skills and experiences needed
If you like the look of Chris’s profile, the next steps are down to you! You can send Chris a message to find out more about their career journey.