Case study

Researcher/Consultant — Anna

Anna works on social research projects in a diverse range of sectors, from mental health to the environment. Discover her top tips for starting a career in social research

How did you get your job?

I studied in Germany at the University of Erfurt, where I completed a degree in psychology and educational science and a Masters in psychology. I now work for the Tavistock Institute of Human Relations as a researcher/consultant, mainly focusing on research and evaluation. I applied for the job online after finding an advert on a jobs board. I had a Skype interview with a senior researcher, followed by a face-to-face interview with two senior researchers.

What's a typical working day like?

My days are varied and filled with project work. I work across a number of different research and evaluation projects in different sectors such as mental health, employment, the environment, health and education. The projects are really interesting as I'm able to gain insights into how different sectors operate, while at the same time applying quantitative research methods to support my decision making.

I'm also involved in generating new work through, for example, proposal writing, and in other activities such as participation in conferences or workshops, writing papers and participation in groups and activities within the Institute.

What do you enjoy most in your role?

I love the diversity of tasks - it's dynamic work and there is always more to learn. I get a great sense of satisfaction from knowing that my work may have a direct impact on policymakers wishing to improve people's lives.

I particularly like working at the Institute because of our collective passion, which is emphasised by our supportive and collaborative work style. We're encouraged to share our unique strengths and experiences to contribute towards providing an improved client outcome.

What are the challenges?

Working on several projects in different areas at the same time can be very challenging in terms of time and coordination. You also have to develop your knowledge of a range of different sectors to ensure your evaluation methods can be effectively applied to your work.

How is your degree relevant?

My degree taught me fundamental research methods for qualitative and quantitative research and statistics. The psychology element has also been helpful for working on various mental health projects.

How has your role developed and what are your career ambitions?

My career ambition is to become a subject matter expert in quantitative research methods for evaluations. I've already learnt a range of methods since I started, but I'm hoping to learn many more innovative research solutions for complex evaluation scenarios. I also hope to help develop the quantitative research practice at the Institute.

What are your tips for choosing a Masters?

Choosing a Masters is always difficult as these courses are more specialised than undergraduate degrees. I would recommend choosing a Masters that best fits with your career ambitions and, more importantly, a topic area that you're passionate about exploring.

What's your advice to others wanting to get into social research?

  • Try to get as much experience as possible during university. This can include completing an internship in your summer break, volunteering during term time or projects that are part of the course and seem relevant to what you want to do later.
  • Be determined and enthusiastic.
  • Don't be afraid to apply for jobs that you would like to do even if you don't meet the full criteria. It's more important for your enthusiasm to shine through your CV and at interviews.

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