The Sky’s the Limit with Statistics

Many students cover research skills, statistics and SPSS on their courses, but may not have considered how these abilities could help them in their career. Patrick graduated from BSc Psychology in 2014. Here he explains how his aptitude for figures led to an exciting career opportunity as Statistical Officer for the Civil Service and how research modules and careers support helped him on this journey.

Patrick

“I currently work on the Statistical Consultancy and Survey Support team. We offer an internal support service for anyone in the department. Customers can come to us with any issue related to analysis, research, or surveys and we will help resolve their issue efficiently and professionally, from delivering advice to taking on the projects ourselves and returning to the customer with a tailored analytical report. Highlights of this role include working with many different customers allowing me to see a range of work across the department, as well as allowing me time to meet other young statisticians at networking events and conferences, the most recent being the Young Statistician’s Meeting 2015 in Cardiff.

After graduation, I worked briefly (4 months) as a Research Analyst Trainee for a private sector market research company. This was a great development role as it gave a first taste of full-time employment. As it was a trainee role it also helped develop analytical skills I had gained at University (Excel, SPSS, and PowerPoint etc.) and apply these in a real-world setting. I then accepted a role with the Civil Service. I mainly use analytical skills in my current role, so everything learnt in our research methods modules from my Psychology degree has been useful. I also use a lot of SPSS to conduct analysis, so learning that was helpful. Knowing how to conduct research and how to conduct it ethically is a big help in my current role, as this is where a lot of our work comes from. Finally, an official writing style learnt from writing essays is helpful when drafting reports or briefings.

The Careers and Employability Service were vital to my getting my current role. It was following an ADAPT session (personal development module) that I begrudgingly went to the careers office to start thinking about what I’m going to do after third year. It was there I was told about the Civil Service Fast Stream Recruitment. I applied and eventually made it through every step, going from online numeracy tests to two full day assessment centres held in London. I unfortunately didn’t get the Fast Stream role, but due to my statistical knowledge was offered a general stream role instead, which only really adds a couple of years to my progression ladder so isn’t too much of a letdown!

To prepare for my interview, the main thing I did was revise all my statistical notes from the last three years. There was a statistical techniques interview that was a large part of the assessment and so revising for that was a must. I also booked in to have a mock interview with the Careers team. It was quite a scary process as I’d never really had a proper interview before, but the team was very helpful and provided me with lots of feedback on how I did, as well as where they thought I needed work. It was a very helpful process and definitely helped me improve my interviewing skills.

 I would advise students to make sure you use the careers team, my employment adviser was immensely helpful in finding me roles to apply for (She also emailed me about the research analyst trainee role that I mentioned earlier) so without her I wouldn’t have had either of the jobs I’ve had! Definitely make use of the mock interviews too, it might seem daunting but trust me it helps!

 I’d like to stay in this career for a while and make my way up the ladder to a more senior role. There lots of opportunity to move to different teams, with the option of staying analytical or not. This should allow a lot of variation in work whilst maintaining nice job security. Later in life I’ll probably head back to the private sector in another analytical role, or try to move abroad, possibly to Canada as there are plenty of statistical roles over there.”

Interviewed by Caroline Hanson, Employment Adviser, Careers and Employability