Catrin Parry-Jones graduated in 2007, having studied History and American Studies. Catrin spent a year abroad at the American University of Maryland Baltimore County. She is currently the Business Manager at Fusionworkshop.
Why did you decide to study at Swansea University?
I've always had a passion for History and the discovery of the 'new world' and I hoped that both History and American Studies would enable me to broaden my knowledge on this topic. The course and university had excellent reviews. I was also drawn because the course included a year abroad studying at an American University.
What did you enjoy most about your course at Swansea?
I enjoyed working on my final year dissertation relating to Abolition and Anti-Slavery during the American Revolution. Attending seminars and writing my dissertation broadened my knowledge on the topic and helped strengthen my writing, personal research, communication and time management skills. All of which are skills I use on a regular basis in my profession.
I thoroughly enjoyed my time spent studying abroad at the University of Maryland Baltimore County. I met a variety of people whilst studying abroad and I’m still in contact with many of them. Whilst at UMBC I took the opportunity to visit the Maryland State Archives to research articles and collections that would not have been available to me in the UK to aid me in my chosen dissertation topic.
My time spent studying at UMBC later inspired me to apply and return to the States in 2008 for an internship at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC.
What are you doing now career-wise?
I am the Business Manager at Fusionworkshop, which is a Cardiff based web agency that specialises in building, hosting and maintaining business-driven websites, portals, intranets and mid-tier web applications. I work closely with the company's Managing Director and form an important part of Fusionworkshop's management and commercial team. My role is varied and responsibilities cover a wide number of areas including Business management and Recruitment.
My previous role was as a personal assistant to the Managing Director of Fusionworkshop. During this role I won the title of ‘Up and Coming PA’ at the Park Plaza PA Awards 2011.
How has Swansea University and your course helped you with your chosen career path?
I use the skills that I developed through essay writing and attending seminars on a daily basis. Studying abroad was incredibly influential as I am now far more confident talking to new people whether socially or at networking events.
What was the best careers advice you were given?
It's important to gain valuable work experience. I was a societies writer for the Waterfront Student Newspaper and an active member of the American Studies Staff/Student Committee. Extracurricular activities teach you tangible skills that you wouldn't necessarily learn at a lecture, for example creative writing, interviewing and event management. These are skills that can be added to a CV and be the basis of discussion with a prospective employer at an interview.
What advice do you have for current students and new graduates?
It is important that current students and recent graduates make it a priority to gain valuable work experience. Go Wales placements are an excellent opportunity and I advise current students and new graduates to look at their website if they are looking for a worthwhile placement in a certain field.
What are your plans for the future?
I’d like to continue learning about the different areas of business and become a professional in my chosen field.
What have you done that you are most proud of?
I continue to be proud of my time spent working as an Exhibition and Curatorial intern at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History in Washington DC. Living in the heart of the United States' Capitol and working at the internationally acclaimed Smithsonian Institution was truly a once in a life time opportunity.
My role consisted of creating an interesting and exciting narrative for the National Numismatic Collections' Power of Liberty display. The Power of Liberty display forms a part of the American National Numismatic Collection’s "Stories on Money" exhibition and is currently being exhibited at the NMAH in Washington DC.
The display and exhibition had many key objectives, one of which was to draw visitors and new audiences into the world of numismatics* through an interactive and creative campaign. My research predominantly took place at the Library of Congress and at other world renowned archives and libraries within the District. I contributed to the exhibit’s script writing, partook in design meetings and worked with individuals from Google California, Hewlett Packard, the United States Mint and other Smithsonian Institutions.
*Numismatics is the study or collection of currency including coins, tokens, paper money and related objects.
What are your favourite memories of your university years at Swansea?
There are so many! Meeting new friends (both in the UK and US) and spending time in the Mumbles and the Gower. I often find myself reminiscing about my University days, especially when I meet up with friends. I also have fond memories of my lecturers and study abroad coordinators (especially Steve Sarson, History, and Angela Jones, American Studies). They were always supportive and willing to offer advice as and when I needed them.
And finally, describe yourself in 3 words…
Proud, energetic and driven