Alumni spotlight: Reaching for the skies - Charles' story

Faculty: Arts, Humanities, Education and Social Sciences
School: School of Humanities and Social Sciences
Course: BA (Hons) History
Category: History, philosophy and social studies

31 March 2022

Charles Redwood

I graduated from the BA (Hons) History at ARU in 2016. I now work as a Senior Aviation Analyst and Forecaster for Jane’s.

This isn’t what I thought I’d be doing after graduating. I had intended to go straight from university into the RAF. However, I enjoyed the researching and studying aspect of my final year (especially my dissertation) so much that I decided to go on to further education and do an MA.

After graduating from the University of Sussex with a Masters Degree in International Security, I wanted a job that reflected my interest in defence and researching, and found my way into the world’s largest and oldest defence analytics company. I have been with the company for nearly two years now, and in my current position for just over four months.

Along with buying my first flat with my girlfriend, getting a full-time research/analytics job within three months of graduating from my MA, then being promoted after 16 months to a senior analyst position ranks as my biggest achievement since leaving ARU.

The curriculum on the ARU History course was brilliant. It was comprehensive and varied; it included subjects I knew I’d be fascinated by and introduced me to fields I hadn’t yet explored. The essay questions within each of the subjects provided everyone with an angle and perspective from which to tackle the subject in a personal and engaging way.

I was both surprised and inspired by the standard of the lectures and seminars, and the lecturers themselves. I felt that the quality of the material and course content was exceptionally good. Specifically with third year essays and dissertations, I felt that there was a real investment, from lectures, and a buy-in to help students achieve the best grade possible. They had all had careers outside academia too, which was invaluable when it came to advice regarding post-university life.

One of the careers-oriented interactions I remember was with a Foreign Office representative who gave us a fascinating insight into life at the FCO. He described his education and career experience, including his progression through the Civil ervice. This inspired me and my housemates, who were on the same course, to seriously consider a career within the Civil Service. It was fascinating to get an insight into an institution that we had come across in our studies, that was still incredibly relevant and gave us career aspirations. This spurred me on to do my Masters in International Security with the University of Sussex, and I know that my housemates also completed Masters in similar fields

Studying in Cambridge brought several benefits. I joined the Cambridge University Air Squadron and got to have some brilliant experiences whilst making friends and contacts. Access to Cambridge’s archives and libraries in the third year was also brilliant and is a real asset for ARU. I think my university experience at ARU was made all the better by being in a historic and academic city.

We also went on trips abroad, which were valuable for building friendships and a point of difference from other courses I looked at, while team leading in a few joint projects and presentations helped build my confidence and highlighted the importance of diligent research.  The highlight of my time on the course was the Vienna field trip – hands down. It was informative, interesting and brilliant fun. We were given the freedom to explore Vienna and discover it ourselves, outside of the expert guided tours provided by the lecturers.

My advice to other history students would be to make good use of the lecturers. They are experts, and are passionate about the subjects they teach. Take advantage of being in Cambridge itself: the archives and libraries that ARU students get access to are the best in the world and are a huge asset when it comes to dissertation writing. Also, do your research thoroughly and be able to justify your opinions, statements and claims.

By Charles Redwood


The views expressed here are those of the individual and do not necessarily represent the views of Anglia Ruskin University. If you've got any concerns please contact us.