Newman’s Samantha gains placement at Guardian News and Media Archive

24/07/2018 by Sinead Staunton

Samantha Shape, History student

Samantha Sharpe, 27, is currently studying her Masters in Victorian Studies at Newman University, Birmingham.

After completing her History degree Samantha took some time out before deciding to pursue her love for Victorian History by enrolling for her postgraduate course. After visiting Newman for an open day before moving away from Birmingham for her undergraduate course, Samantha knew that one day she would return to the university to study and was over the moon when she found out that Newman offered a MA Victorian Studies.

Samantha commented “It’s [Newman] only 10 minutes’ from when I live currently and I know that they have recently refurbished areas in the building so it’s quite exciting to be part of Newman University’s development.

“I can work and study, and still have access to all of the great facilities available. The library facilities, access to the Birmingham Midlands Institute (BMI) and also my mum studied at Newman University just over 7 years ago and I used to come in with her to hand in her assignments, so I just already felt like I knew the place and it felt the right time for me to return.”

Samantha had some concerns about returning to education after taking time out but she explains the tutors and learning teams made it so easy.

“It is a completely student-led experience and you’re treated and respected as academics. I have absolutely loved my modules so far – the module on nineteenth century literature and the Extraordinary Body has now turned into a possible dissertation topic for me. I also love that I have a membership to the BMI – it’s those little things that really make the experience and encourages you to become part of a wider community.

“We have such a good network of staff available from the library support team all the way to our tutors. Everyone wants to help, whether that’s with an assignment question or if you hit that mental study block – they’ve all been there, and they really want to help. I’ve had tutorials quite late or over the phone, so no resources are ever off limits if you make it work for you and you’re proactive with your research. I met Dr Ian Cawood first at the undergraduate open day and again at the postgraduate open day, and both times his enthusiasm and breadth of knowledge have been so contagious! Dr Chris Langley and Dr Helen Davis are just as enthusiastic too, and they will always point you in the right direction or contact. So far, I have always come away from tutorials or lectures full of confidence.”

Samantha wishes to pursue a career in research and therefore wanted to gain some experience within the industry and began contacting archives around the UK to find a placement which she felt would make a difference to her and give her the opportunity to learn. This is when Samantha received the great news that The Guardian News and Media were willing to offer Samantha a 2 week placement where she can immerse herself into the archives and other works The Guardian News and Media offers.

“I’ve never been to London really, so I will take the opportunity to explore the British Library and museums as I will be away from home for the whole time – I am so excited!

“Being a service user in archives and libraries already, this placement will help me to expand on my skills handling archive material. As a service user of libraries and archives, I have developed skills in being able to break down what I am looking for in such a wide collection of materials in order to use it for my research, and I believe that being exposed to a wide range of online and physical documents through Newman University means I already have that self-awareness within an archive and a real sense of respect for the materials I will be handling.

“Newman University and my previous experiences have also helped me with my confidence – I used to be such a quiet person, but I have developed skills to come out of my comfort zone completely and try new experiences. ‘Create your own luck’ is the best life mantra I have been taught, and it means I have developed a sense of self-awareness and confidence to look for opportunities both as an academic but also in my personal life, and Newman University certainly encourages and nurtures its students to get to that point.”

Samantha explains that work placements are invaluable as they provide skills that you can’t necessarily find in a textbook as well as providing a range of contacts and networks to become involved in.

Samantha is due to complete her work placement next January.