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Sefryn Penrose

SOAS was a passionate place - academically and amongst the student body and I still have the SOAS passion at my core!

Year graduated from SOAS
2000

Programme studied
BA History of Art/Archaeology

Current job title and name of organisation
Senior Heritage Consultant

What do you like about what you do? 
I work in a field which has always interested me, and which I still have great passion for. As in any consultancy, the range of jobs is very diverse and fast-flowing. Because of this, I am always engaged in something different, with a new set of challenges. I have worked on policy, developed new methodologies, written a book, helped build railways, helped save buildings...Every day is different.

How has your time at SOAS helped you succeed in this role? 
SOAS was an education in a hundred ways. In one department there were so many different academic schools of thought. That breadth introduced me to the idea that there are many approaches, nuances and subtleties to the historic environment, and as a consultant that is perhaps the most important thing to know. SOAS was a passionate place - academically and amongst the student body and I still have the SOAS passion at my core! The broad view of the world that SOAS gave me has definitely influenced my personal development too. I did my Masters at Bristol, and am finishing a DPhil at Oxford at the moment. Those places have also had a great impact and have lead me to knew and brilliantly exciting jobs and challenges, but in the end I am a SOAS person.

Can you give current students any tips on getting into this kind of work? 
Work hard! (Not of course at the expense of getting the most out of the student experience however - it's just as important to be active and involved outside academia). Meet people, talk to people, listen to people. The academic resource at SOAS is spectacular and generous - it is often through lecturers, tutors, teachers that you will meet the people and opportunities that will get you to where you want to be. I don't mean that it is who you know not what you know, but the world is a social place and knowing people is the best way to get to know it. Be broad. Look at all the different approaches there are to your subject - there is so much flexibility to any discipline and if you want to you can find the perfect niche. Be open. If it sounds interesting, give it a go. You don't have to do anything for ever! Listen to people. We live in a world of many potentialities but if you don't listen you won't hear about them. More specifically... try and get your CV decorated with all the things that show you're an interesting person. Try and get on archaeological (if that's what you're after) excavations, or curatorial internships, or equivalent. If you organise something independently that's fine. Call people up as well as email. Try and meet people. Introduce yourself to your heroes/prospective employers at conferences. If you're excited about your subject, don't be concerned that you're not experienced enough - future employers and colleagues will like your enthusiasm more than your experience. If you have ideas about jobs or work you'd like to do, don't keep them to yourself try and 'sell' it to someone whose interested. Or just try and set it up yourself.