The School of Geography, Politics and Sociology

Jonathan Atkinson

Jonathan Atkinson

Jonathan graduated with a BA in Sociology in 2008.

Choosing Newcastle

I applied to five universities and took the time to visit each one to make sure I was confident in my choice. The department open day at Newcastle left me feeling that University couldn’t start too soon. The staff were enthusiastic about the subjects, gave lots of information about the different areas I could study and showed genuine passion and enjoyment for the subjects they taught.

Choosing Newcastle is not a decision I have ever had to contemplate. The university experience allowed me to develop as a person in a truly supportive environment. I learned how to state my opinion and balance my views in a confident and independent manner as well as developing my own techniques of time-management and how to motivate myself. I was also able to meet a huge range of people from all backgrounds and experiences, something that can only improve a Sociology students perspective.

Studying at Newcastle

Spending time researching different arguments and then composing your own point of view has given me skills that I use everyday. I am able to summarise information, look at all aspects of a subject then come to a informed decision about any action I want to take. This means I am confident in my choices through the conviction of understanding where I am coming from and what direction I want to proceed in.

Some of the most memorable moments came from setting up the Sociology society, a student-led body that organised events for Sociology students to socialise with and support each other. It was great to take delivery of boxes of Soc Soc hoodies and seeing people around university who were proud to be part of the university and their department. I also really enjoyed being part of the staff student committee and board of studies because it gave me an insight to how the department was organised and also allowed me to represent the views of students in how the department/school developed and moved forward. I felt like views were always taken on board and respected.

My dissertation focused on the transition from child to adult for young people with learning disabilities and this linked closely to studying the Sociology of disability. This module allowed me to address my own experience of disability with a sociological perspective; to create a framework around lived experiences of disabled people and to learn about the development within society and their impact on the lives of disabled people. It was not only interesting but invaluable in helping me to achieve the position I hold within Leeds City Council.

All of the staff that I met showed a real interest in helping students engage with our subject, offer advice and guidance through open hours or just a quick chat if passing by. The fact that I have came back to the university and wanted call in and say hello is testament to the respect and good nature of the Sociology staff.

My University experience would have been a lot more of a struggle without the support I received from my tutor Cathrine Degnen. Cate showed genuine interest and compassion when talking to you about either your academic or personal life.

Career profile

In my current role as Inclusion Information Officer for Leeds City Council: Early Years and Youth Service I analyse, review and produce information aimed at increasing the inclusion of disabled children, young people and their families in services, activities and organisations across Leeds. I attend a variety of steering groups and advisory boards that are involved in inclusion or disability specific projects in the city and local areas.

There were many different directions in front of me as I approached graduation. I always had part time jobs whilst studying, which gave me sales and customer service experience. But my first real job was attaining a position as a Graduate Ambassador at Newcastle University.

I found out about this role through the Universities Careers service and knew that I had attained many of the skills required during my time studying Sociology. Specifically these skills and knowledge were:

  • an interest and knowledge in the British education system
  • working with and enthusing young people about higher education
  • communicating in a variety of ways with different audiences, especially public speaking

It was a fantastic transition from student to full time professional and I was given a lot of support in how to adapt my skills to suit a working environment such as applying my analytical skills to identify trends of HE progression specific to regions in the North of England.

Through this job I gained a new perspective of the working world and a lot of confidence too. This confidence allowed me to apply for many jobs I wouldn’t have thought possibly only a year before. I obtained a fixed post as an Inclusion Information Officer with Leeds city council with an aim of improving information and communication for families of disabled children.