What job will I get?
Our graduates get great jobs across science, technology and the media. They put their knowledge and passion for science to good use every day, putting their finely tuned communication skills into practice in lots of different ways.
Some of the places our students work include press offices, newsrooms, research institutes and other scientific bodies. Below, just a few of them explain a bit more about where they've ended up.
Communications Assistant, Society for Endocrinology
After completing a BSc in Biology, I knew I wanted a science-related job outside of a traditional academic environment. For this reason, I decided to study for the MSc in Science Communication, after which I rapidly secured a role as Communications Assistant for the Society for Endocrinology, a small organisation dedicated to advancing the science of hormones.
The MSc at the University of Sheffield gave me invaluable skills which I use every day, such as the ability to digest complex scientific concepts into concise, accurate copy for a press release. By publicising great science, I play an active part in keeping people well informed on the latest developments in medicine and human biology, which makes my job exciting and rewarding.
Social Media Executive, NHS Choices
I currently work at NHS Choices as a Social Media Executive. NHS Choices is the largest health website in the UK (and one of the largest in the world!) receiving more than 40 million hits in January 2014 alone. I manage the Facebook, Twitter and Google+ channels for NHS Choices, publicising new or topical content, and interacting with the public. Additionally, I have a consultant role as part of the team delivering Public Health England campaigns such as Change4Life.
Every day I get the chance to use the skills I learnt during the course to understand and evaluate scientific content, and communicate medical knowledge using one of the most trusted "voices" in healthcare – the NHS. Much of the time, my role sits somewhere between that of a health journalist and a digital marketer, and the course really gave me a great introduction to this type of flexible working.
The training in journalism that I got during the MSc is used constantly – all the copy that I write is public-facing, and most days our stats show that hundreds of thousands of people (occasionally millions) see my content. Being able to communicate technical/scientific knowledge accurately and in an engaging manner for a variety of audiences is obviously really important to my role!
I can also thank the course for getting me the job in the first place. My dissertation project was a placement with a part of the NHS National Institute of Health Research, which was arranged through the course. The course tutors supported my work on a real-world social marketing project, tackling a genuine health problem (dysphagia – swallowing problems). The feedback that I got during the interview was that being able to cite this sort of practical experience was vital to me getting the job.
Strategic Planner, Emotive (digital healthcare agency)
Today I work as a Strategic Planner for a creative digital agency specialising in healthcare. We work on a wide range of projects, including patient support websites, mobile and tablet development, strategic landscaping and gamification – all with a core scientific focus.
The job is varied and a solid scientific background is essential. One of my favourite things about the role is that every day is different. We work across many therapy areas, such as diabetes, oncology and pain management. I can spend the morning working on a virtual reality for diabetics and the afternoon on a newspaper for neuropathic pain management.
The job requires a number of core skills that I developed during my MSc in Science Communication. Probably the most important of these is writing – high quality written communication will allow you to stand out in almost any industry. Other key skills I use in my day-to-day role include primary literature analysis, presentation development and delivery and analytical and critical thinking.
Having a Masters degree in Science Communication allowed me to position myself in an exciting and growing field. The degree is an excellent combination of unusual and reputable – making employers take notice and giving you a competitive edge in the workplace.
Coordination of Public Relationships and Contents, National Institute of Genomic Medicine (Mexico)
My current position involves establishing relations between the researchers of the institute and the media. This means that I book the appointments for the media to interview the researchers and I work with scientists so they can communicate a message efficiently and accurately based on what the institute needs to inform. I also work on the content of many products that my area delivers, like bulletins, articles for magazines, or TV programmes, among others.
What I love about my job is that it gives me the opportunity to understand how the media works in the real world (and not just of what teachers tell us) and how they take what they need to communicate science. So if we as communicators do our job right, it is highly possible that they will communicate what we need them to. I also love that I understand both worlds, the academic/scientific and the media, because of my biology and science communication degrees, and that I can apply my knowledge of both of them every day, every time.
From the MSc I learnt a lot of things, but maybe the most important is that now I know how media works and now I don't get surprised by its behaviour – unlike scientists, as they tend to hate how media use the information, especially for propaganda. I also developed my ability to write magazine articles, I learnt how to make proper videos, to identify the core message to communicate, and to understand the ethical aspects of our profession. But most of all, the masters helped me to realise how creative I am and can be, especially because of all the ideas I can propose to help the audience understand science.
I went to Sheffield hoping to learn how to deliver a scientific concept properly, but I returned to my country full of knowledge and abilities to communicate science and to engage with the media – and also, with a heart full of experiences and really good friends.
Communications Officer, Academy of Medical Sciences
After completing the MSc, I moved straight down to London to work at the Academy of Medical Sciences. We’re a small team, so my job is fast-paced and varied. I can be supervising a photoshoot one day and organising a public engagement event the next! Most of my work falls into three categories – press and publicity, online communications and social media, and events management – but there are lots of other tasks too, and I’m never bored. I really enjoy the variety, and the opportunities it gives me to sharpen my skills in different areas.
In my spare time, I also do lots of hands-on engagement, which I love. I’m Chair of Science London, which is great fun, and I’ve run family workshops for everyone from the British Ecological Society to CBBC.
The MSc definitely helped me get this job, and continues to help me even now. It gave me a solid understanding of the different ways science can be communicated, and the importance of meeting your audience’s needs, as well as lots of practical skills like copywriting and media analysis. It also gave me a good introduction to basic issues in the biosciences, which is very helpful in my current role, as I originally trained as a chemist!
The course has also opened up a network of likeminded people, as I stay in touch with lots of alumni who have travelled far and wide across the country. Peer support and a reliable address book are definitely the keys to a successful career in science communication (although Twitter is handy too).