Kirkley High School (2001-2006), University of Bath (2006-2010), University of the West of England (2012-2014)
GCSEs including drama, business studies and French; A Levels in maths, further maths, chemistry and physics; BSc in maths and physics, MSc in science communication
LOTS OF PLACES. A t-shirt printing factory, Primark, at a Morrison’s customer service desk, and more. More recently, I worked as a press officer at the Economic and Social Research Council.
Digital communications manager
Royal Academy of Engineering
I use social media and other digital multimedia to share the latest engineering news
I work to share the latest engineering news with the public. News such as cool new inventions, amazing new discoveries and achievements, or data about engineers jobs and skills. Sometimes we’ll be trying to reach politicians with the news, sometimes we’ll be trying to reach engineers themselves – or sometimes we’re targeting young people, parents and teachers to encourage more people to explore engineering.
My role in this involves ‘digital communications’ – that’s things like social media, email newsletters, online videos and interactive tools on our website. This is a relatively new role in my organisation, separate from our publications team (who create printed magazines and other materials) and our news team (who work with more traditional journalists in newspapers and broadcasting) – but we all work closely together.
When we have news or information to share, we’ll dig into it – What’s special about this award-winning engineering? How does it work? What challenges did people have to overcome? How does it impact peoples’ lives? – and get to know the people behind it. If we have a big campaign or an event we’re trying to promote, we’ll boil it down into clear messages – something clear and memorable and interesting.
Then, I turn those ideas and messages into tweets, emails, web pages, videos, and more! This involves writing and a bit of design work. It involves working with other companies, giving them clear instructions, and feedback on their work. It involves splitting tasks up among my team and making sure everything is ready on time and works well together. Most importantly, it means we’ve got to come up with material that’s interesting to the people we’re trying to reach – our audience. Then, we think carefully about how we’re going to share the news – the ‘when’ and the ‘where’ and the ‘who’ – and then monitor the results and feedback.
Having a good understanding of science is really helpful in my job working with scientists and engineers, as is a good basis in maths for doing lots of data analysis on the results of campaigns. Overall, it just helps to have a healthy interest in science and what’s going on in the world – I’m still always learning!
My Typical Day
Go on Twitter, design an email, meet with a company making a video for me, give feedback to colleagues...
I work in part of a central communications team that supports lots of other teams in my organisation, so one of my first tasks is to meet with other teams and find out what they’ve got coming up, what news they need to share, and what they need help promoting.
Then, it’s back to my desk to come up with a plan. This involves a fair bit of writing, but also some design work, to make things visually engaging online.
Sometimes, this means working with a separate company who have more expertise in things like making videos or designing apps – so I’ll need to give them clear instructions and feedback on their work to make sure that what they’ve made delivers exactly what we want.
In between all this, I’m monitoring and posting to social media, keeping an eye on what’s in the news and responding to any queries. I’m also responsible for a member of staff, so my day will involve setting them tasks, answering queries from them, and providing feedback on their work.
How I got into this job
Loved science, loved being creative, so I combined the two
I loved studying maths and physics at university, but it got to a hard part where I realised that studying it any further wasn’t for me. I wanted to share and explore the things I knew, rather than research further into more and more obscure areas. I’d always got good feedback on my communication – whether that was presentations, written lab reports, or things outside of the classroom – so I Googled ‘science communication jobs’ and realised there was a whole industry of science communication, and further courses I could study.
I saved up a bit of money by working in a printing firm doing some design and marketing work, which also helped develop those creative and business skills, and then studied a master’s degree in science communication. As part of that I got work experience in museums, writing for magazines, working with broadcasters and at festivals, and got a good feel for the opportunities available. I ended up working in a job in a press office – sharing science research news with journalists. A few years later, and as a regular user of social media, that evolved into the type of role I’m doing today.
What's the best thing you've ever done in your career?
Had articles published in a science magazine
What advice would you give someone who wants to be in the same career as you?
Try out lots of different things - whether that's volunteering in a museum, writing a blog, giving a talk on something that interests you or something completely different, it's all really helpful as you develop!
What do you see as your next step in your career?
More experience in design and specialist software so I can produce more accessible and helpful materials to get across the stories I'm trying to tell
What other sorts of jobs can you do with your qualifications?
Loads! The biggest ones involve writing about science for different audiences, whether that's the public, politicians, or others. But I could go behind-the-scenes and do more data analysis without as much writing. The logical and analysis skills I learnt in my first degree are in high demand in everything from banking and engineering to the law and media.
What's the best part of your current job?
Staying at the cutting edge of the latest memes and trends, while being creative myself. It's never too boring!
What don't you like about your current job?
The more senior you get, the more you have to do planning and strategy and the less you get to do actual writing and designing - that can get a bit boring with all the meetings and emails, but it's essential!