Jacob on how his Geography degree prepared him for his career
Jacob graduated from Geography with International Study in 2016 and now works as Local Industrial Strategy Programme Lead at Greater Manchester Combined Authority. In his blog, he shares with us some insights of studying Geography as well as his career development following graduation.
On my decision to choose Geography at Manchester
I knew I wanted to do geography because I generally just found it the most interesting thing I did at school. It was outward looking, it was holistic, often trying to understand the world from more than one perspective at the same time.
I wanted to come to Manchester because I wanted to be somewhere big, somewhere with music and clubs and Northern culture (my parents are Scousers, but I grew up in the south) and it was everything I expected it to be and I live here to this day!
On my career so far
I started out on a Graduate Scheme at Manchester City Council in 2016 and ended up transitioning into a full-time role working in the Chief Executive’s Office. This involved providing policy, admin and project management support to the CEX, Strategic Management Team as well as working on projects that in general there wasn’t a department for, most significantly the immediate, short and long term response to the Manchester Arena Bomb in 2017. In June 2020 I left Manchester City Council for a roll in the Economy Directorate at the Greater Manchester Combined Authority.
On my current role
My current role entails:
- Providing policy support to decision makers via briefings, report writing, slide decks as well as delivering governance processes
- Designing and delivering programmes of activity to support our Economy in Greater Manchester
- Drafting, consulting and delivering strategies
- Co-ordinating with districts, businesses representative organisations and partners, which has been even more important than ever during Covid-19
On how Geography helped me prepare for my role
Human Geography gives you such a rounded view of how society works, and how different pieces link together. Buses are not just about getting to A to B, there are also about equality, healthcare systems are not just about life expectancy but also economic productivity. Understand these links is essential to my roll and geography laid the foundation for this.
On a practical level, the job involves quite a bit of writing as well as synthesising information from multiple sources into different formats. It also required quite a lot of organisational skill, and I have defiantly benefited from some of the discipline I developed to keep myself on top of my revision and essays in my day to day job!
When I started out I didn’t really know what I wanted to do, just what I didn’t want to do which was become a teacher or work for a corporate giant. Studying Geography if anything just re-affirmed in me that I wanted to do something that helped even in my very small way, make the world a better place for those who come after us.
The year I joined Manchester City Council there were 8 graduates, and 7 of us did Geography at university. The rounded nature of the subject makes it perfect for people looking to go into roles in local authorities, as you already know more than you think about the things they do.
On my most surprising takeaway
I met my life partner, who is from a different country, whilst we were both living in a entirely different country thanks for my course. Some of my closest friends in the world I met on my course and I now have friends form my exchange year all of the world.
On my advice to prospective applicants
Come to Manchester you won’t want to leave!
Geography at Manchester is a subject where you are treated with a huge amount of trust from the outset. You may never be more time rich in your life again so use it, do extracurricular stuff. Me and a friend did all over the city in my second year, and in my year abroad I snowboarded every weekend pretty much. Those experiences have pushed me and helped me grow immensely, so be organised, get your work done and use your time well!