Department of History

Emma Sharman, Graduate Quantity Surveyor

Emma Sharman smiling, with blue posters in the background
Emma, a 2020 BA History graduate, discusses how her degree helped her secure a role in the construction industry.

"I'm a Graduate Quantity Surveyor at Morgan Sindall Construction. I started in July and am absolutely loving it – no two days are the same.

I originally thought I wanted to be a consultant, or go into insurance! A family friend said ‘have you ever thought about the construction industry? You’re quite a confident person, you can hold your own in that situation'. So I went for an interview, got on really well with the person... and got offered the job!

I have to do a masters in quantity surveying, coming from a history background. I’m doing a one day a week, part time masters, that lasts for two years. As I'm new to the industry I also get a rotation around the business, which is really good. I’m very lucky I get to meet all the directors and sit in on their meetings."

Skills for success

"A history degree gives you so many skills – presentation and communication in particular. Nottingham are so good at making you get up and present. It’s a really good skill to learn.

In History, I was told from the word go, ‘you’ve got to be able to present your case, present your argument’. You’ve got to be able to negotiate. Now, I am negotiating with sub-contractors over price! History gives you the confidence to do it on a piece of paper. If you can do that, you can do it verbally, so it’s a stepping-stone.
Emma Sharman in a high vis jacket and white hardhat on site.



There’s written communication as well. In history you’re writing high-quality essays. You have to be able to read closely into a text – so in this job I’m doing that for legal contracts." 

History at Nottingham

"What I loved most about my course was meeting some of the professors. In third-year you got to really specialise in what you wanted to do and build some great relationships with your professors. I loved going to my seminars and writing my dissertation. 

My third-year professors were the best, I had Alessandro Salvador, he was amazing, and my dissertation tutor Richard Goddard was so good as well. He pushed me so much and gave me a lot of confidence in myself and my writing, which I took into my current job.

I wanted to do really well in my degree. 'Success' for me meant balancing my social life whilst aiming for a first-class degree."

Future development

"In terms of my career, I’m going to do my chartership and become a chartered surveyor, and would like to eventually go into a leadership role in the company. 

This industry, if you’re talented, they do pay you a decent salary, too. I'm lucky in that I've already been able to buy my first home, which is something I wouldn't have been able to do without this role."  

Go further

Study history

Emma's advice if you're considering studying history...

  • "Do it – history can take you anywhere you want!
  • A history degree shows you can research, you can write, you can present – I don't think you can name a job that wouldn't want those skills in a person
  • I think gone are the days where you necessarily have to do a degree in a subject you want to do a career in. I think you stand out more if you have a different skill set and are bringing a different perspective"

Department of History

University of Nottingham
University Park
Nottingham, NG7 2RD

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