September 23, 2014, by James Jupe

History degree to a business role, Nathan tells us his story

In anticipation of our Careers in Management and Business Fair we asked Nottingham alumnus Nathan Livingston to tell us how his career has mapped out. After studying an arts degree he quickly discovered there was a world of opportunity which led to becoming a senior account researcher.

By Nathan Livingston, BA History (graduated 2011)

At first I didn’t know where to start

After graduation I never really knew what career path I wanted to take and like many students I’d started university with the aim of just getting a degree. History was something I enjoyed and was relatively good at, but I didn’t always understand its usefulness. Throughout my degree I always asked myself ‘what use is a history degree?’. The answer to this – with the great benefit of hindsight – is anything you like. History proves to employers that you can analyse, interrogate and form your own opinions which are hugely valued assets; especially in a business role.

When I graduated, I simply panicked. I jumped into a graduate job with a well-known car rental company and had no focus on whether or not it was right for me. After only a few months I soon realised that while I enjoyed the challenges of running a business and managing clients, it was not the right environment.

History gave me the skills I needed for business

It was at this point that I realised business and management can mean a variety of things. It’s not just about sales and profit. It involves managing projects, interacting with clients and sharing key knowledge across the business. All of these skills require an ability to make key decisions, interrogate findings and present them in a persuasive and well-constructed manner. Believe it or not, this is exactly what history essays and exams prepare you for.

Don’t forget; you do not have to do everything that falls under the title of ‘business management’. I decided to look for a job that involved project and client management while also letting me use the research skills developed from my degree. After some searching (and some luck!) I applied and succeeded in getting a graduate role for Millward Brown; one of the leading marketing insight agencies in the world. Two years later I find myself at another – GfK.

Now I work with the biggest brands in the world

Within this role I am in charge of providing insight to some of the biggest brands in the world. I get to design projects from their inception and present the results to senior clients. Another aspect of my role is the amount of projects. They can vary from pre-testing ads before going on air to running multi-tracking studies that measure a brand’s health over time. I have to investigate data and provide insight and direction for my clients. Finally, something I’m sure every humanities student would love is that I’ve been given great freedom to offer my own opinions and challenge traditional theories.

While this is only a brief snapshot of my current role, it should hopefully put faith into anyone studying History, or any humanities degree, that they have a set of skills that employers will be keen to have within their business. Additionally, I hope it shows that you have a choice in what aspect of business and management you decide to have a career in – you should never feel that you have to rush into a career path not right for you.

Excited by Nathan’s story? Find out about the opportunities at our Careers in Management and Business Fair on Monday 13 October. And if you think a career in business isn’t for you, then think again and read our blog to find out why it’s open to students from all degree disciplines.

Posted in Alumni StoriesApplying For Jobs