Mark Joseph Walmsley
PhD Title, Location, Date of Award:
“The First Draft of History”: How the Process of News Construction has Influenced our Understanding of the Civil and Gay Rights Movements of the 1960s, University of Leeds, 2016.
Current Role and Brief Description:
Lecturer in the Humanities and Widening Participation Academic Officer at the University of East Anglia (UEA)
Funded as part of UEA’s Action and Participation Plan, my role is a mix of traditional academic functions – such as teaching and fulfilling administrative roles within my department – and elements that are more often carried out by academic related staff involved in Outreach and Student Support. This somewhat unusual role acts as a bridge between various arms of the University with the intention of supporting students across the full life-cycle from those thinking (or not) about University applications in primary and secondary school to those looking for positive graduate outcomes.
Other Roles (if any) post-PhD, not including your current role:
Shortly after submitting my PhD I started work as a Widening Participation Officer within the Cambridge Admissions Office, primarily responsible for organising the annual Sutton Trust Summer Schools that bring over 500 students to the city for residential academic study. I then took a new role in the Admissions Office as a Research Analyst for Widening Participation, Evaluation, and Monitoring. This involved quantitative and qualitative research aimed at improving existing outreach provision at the University of Cambridge and designing a system by which events and programmes could be effectively monitored.
One example (if relevant) of how you are able to use your PhD skills/expertise in your current role:
Most of my roles have involved bridging the gap between academic departments and other areas of the University. As a PhD student you also inhabit this strange space between being considered academic staff by some, but not others – especially if, as many of us did, you also worked admin roles during your PhD to keep the roof over your head. This kind of organisational knowledge and familiarity can be useful in spaces where you need to work across University departments.
One piece of job advice you wish you’d had prior to finishing your PhD:
I think I was advised quite well when it came to academic positions, but there was a (quite reasonable) lack of understanding when it came to administrative or academic-related job roles. For those thinking of that route, my first advice would be to gain useful (paid) experience during your PhD as many of these positions are internally filled. The second – and one that I’d wish I’d thought of before starting my first full-time academic-related role – would be to make the most of classes and learning on central software such as Microsoft Excel and Access. These skills not only make your more employable, but will also make your life a lot easier when you do start in an administrative role!