The School of Geography, Politics and Sociology

Stef Anderson

Stef Anderson

Staf graduated in 2006 with a BA in Sociology.

Choosing Newcastle

I chose Newcastle because it seemed like the course offered a good balance between the classical study of sociology and more contemporary themes and concerns. I also thought Newcastle seemed a lively place where the living costs would be relatively inexpensive compared to other cities further south.

The course, the University and the city all have a great deal to offer students of any age, experience or background. The campus is in the heart of the city with plenty of shops, clubs and bars nearby. The city also offers a thriving cultural scene. The beautiful Northumberland coastline is also never far away if you’re a fan of the great outdoors.

I had a great time in Newcastle and continue to live and work in the city. 

Studying at Newcastle

At the start of each year it was always really hard choosing which modules to study because the department put together such a diverse and enticing selection. However, I think one of the most memorable moments was in the second year, debating whether ‘class’ was a redundant concept in the 21st century.

The students on the course represented a wide range of different backgrounds and it was interesting, if maybe a little uncomfortable at times, to hear my peers bringing their own personal experience to bear on the question.

Sociology makes you confront difficult, taboo topics and issues, and in doing so encourages integrity and directness among its students. I also remember the enormous sense of pride and achievement on completing my final year dissertation.

Elaine Campbell was my tutor and occasional lecturer during my three years at Newcastle. Elaine had a really good rapport with the students and her lectures could always be relied upon to provide some interesting case studies. Her research interests mean the subjects of her lectures are always intriguing, especially to undergraduates who may never have considered these subjects as within the ambit of sociology eg sociology of emotion.

Career profile

I currently work as a Development Officer at Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums (TWAM), based in Newcastle. TWAM manages 12 museums, galleries and world heritage sites across Tyne & Wear and an archive. My role is to raise funds from a variety of sources to support our work.

Half of our funding comes from the five Tyne & Wear local authorities, the remainder is a mixture of government grants and funds raised from grant-giving bodies, trusts, foundations, individuals and local businesses. My main responsibilities relate to corporate fundraising and I work with a number of local companies from a range of sectors.

Before this job I spent three and a half years at the City Council, working on a variety of projects and across a range of policy domains including participatory budgeting, community engagement and empowerment, labour market policy, the city’s preventing violent extremism programme, the ‘Big Society’, international relations and health and social care. At the same time, I was also keen to gain experience working outside the public sector and so started looking for jobs in the third sector related to fundraising, which is how I came across the job as a Development Officer for TWAM.

I’m really enjoying the challenge of learning a new job after working in policy for three and a half years. As a corporate fundraiser, I have to put myself in the perspective of local companies and try to understand what might motivate them to engage with an organisation like TWAM. I’m learning about corporate responsibility, marketing and the particular challenges and opportunities that the various sectors of the local economy – retail, legal, finance, manufacturing etc – are encountering.

With declining public funding for cultural organisations and higher expectations from visitors, my role is more important than ever to help meet these expectations and fill the gap left by the withdrawal of public sector funding. Creativity, tenacity and critical thinking are paramount to stay ahead of the game and make sure we are presenting local companies with the most attractive propositions in order to win their support.

Remembering Newcastle

The sociological imagination is a constant, lifelong companion. It provided me with the vocational skills to embark on a career in social policy but equally it has given me the confidence to believe I can succeed in other fields, by producing a graduate with a very rounded and flexible set of skills that can be applied to a variety of tasks and problems. In my new role, the analytical skills I developed while studying at university are serving me well. I am able to question the status quo and develop new solutions to ensure we continue to raise funds in these difficult and uncertain economic and political conditions.

With the rise in tuition fees, it may be tempting to think that courses of an explicitly vocational nature are a safer bet. However, working life is increasingly characterised by instability, mobility and flexibility. Newcastle Sociology equips its students with the right attitudes and aptitudes to navigate and succeed in this type of labour market. It enriches your experience of work, whatever work that might be, and by the looks of it we’re all going to be working for a very long time so you may as well enjoy it!