The third and final post in our series on research careers in social sciences and humanities. The final post summarises a panel of four speakers working in research roles in charities and employee research organisations.
The first speaker works as an Impact Manager for an educational charity. She evaluates the work that the charity does, creates and administers surveys and analyses data. She started as an assistant researcher and then moved up. Her role involves strategy as well as research – she helps colleagues think through how their projects fit with the overall aims of the charity. She highlighted that the charity sector really needs research skills.
The second speaker, a research manager for an employee research consultancy, puts together surveys and questionnaires for clients and analyses the results using psychological theories. Projects focus on employee wellbeing and change management within organisations. The speaker said it would be useful to get broad experience of job roles before undertaking her current role as it's useful to gain insights into how companies work. A Masters in Organisational Psychology may be helpful for business psychology/employee engagement roles. Consultancy roles often have long working hours whereas in-house roles tend to have better work/life balance. There are lots of in-house roles in business psychology within learning and development/HR departments.
The third speaker works for a charity which organises volunteering years for young people. She evaluates and needs to demonstrate the impact of the work the charity does. She analyses data and looks at trends. She has worked with banks and the charity’s funders as well as internal departments within the organisation. She does internal strategy and consulting work as well as research. Her interest in charities began at university when she ran the Charitable Society. She did a masters in politics during which she learned statistics and research methods.
The fourth speaker works for an educational charity, which she described as a very research-based organisation. She evaluates the impact of the charity’s work using a mixture of qualitative and quantitative methods. She noted that big data and data mining are becoming increasingly important for the charity sector. The speaker did a classical studies degree then worked part-time at a university; during this time she realised she loved data and databases. She talked about the importance of making research real for the people she works with and showing how research is informing organisational programmes and strategy. The charity works collaboratively with academic researchers. She mentioned The Fair Education website which lists fifty educational charities.
See also our post on working in the charity sector, and our Careers Service guide to working in the charity sector.