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Clare Coatman

MA Conflict Resolution

  • Senior Campaigner at Trades Union Congress (TUC)
  • Doesn't have an undergraduate degree, but Bradford considered previous work experience when applying for an MA
  • Manages strategic priorities for the trade union movement
A headshot of Clare Coatman, MA Conflict Resolution

Current role

"As Senior Campaigner for the Trades Union Congress (TUC), I project manage strategic priorities for the trade union movement. For the first few years I worked on helping unions to reach younger workers. I led the most significant innovation programme of the trade union movement to create a new offer to younger workers.

"I’m currently managing a major research project into workers’ experiences during the coronavirus pandemic and contributing to a project team for a flagship event about organising.

"I love my job the most when I’m able to work in new ways and improve processes at the organisation. I get frustrated when things aren’t coordinated well or don’t seem strategic.

"I saw the job advertised on a site listing campaigns roles as a Campaigner and over time I've evolved the role to Senior Campaigner. The original requirements included campaigns, digital and project management experience, communication skills and knowledge about relevant social policy.

"I’ve only ever worked in the third sector, mostly in campaigns. I started volunteering on campaigns as a young teenager because I wanted to play a role in improving society – starting with being a school student spokesperson against the Iraq war. I love having a job with a purpose and aligning what I do with my values.

"Because my work is office based, I’ve mostly moved to working from home smoothly during the pandemic. My meetings are all now virtual. The organisational priorities shifted so some of what I’m working on has changed but my role has stayed the same."

I had a brilliant experience going into an MA after years of working. Any issues I had with understanding the academic approach were solved by support from study skills classes and helpful librarians.

Choosing Bradford

"I had a difficult time at school and really didn’t enjoy it; I felt different from the other kids and I was under a lot of pressure to achieve academically. So, when I was 18 I chose to go into work thinking I could study later. Six years into my career, I was ready to have the time and space to think and read on my own terms.

"Bradford had the flexibility to count my professional experience as equivalent to an undergraduate degree and so offered me the opportunity to study for a Master's. I will always be so grateful for their willingness to look at what I was bringing in a different way.

"I loved the flexibility of being able to study at times and in ways that suited me, rather than having to be at a desk for fixed hours.

"My motivation for studying was for the experience and my self-development more than career development. Although having a postgraduate degree has certainly helped in different ways. It gave me more confidence for some tasks I’ve faced in work such as contributing to a literature review. Having an MA without a BA has sometimes attracted the attention of organisations and been a talking point."

Clare Coatman, MA Conflict Resolution at her graduation

Finding work

"After I graduated, I was looking for mid-level roles in the campaigns sector. I had a systematic approach to looking for work: once a week I would search through the relevant job sites, add relevant opportunities to a spreadsheet and then work through the applications. I would use my networks and see if any friends of friends worked where I was applying so I could ask if there was anything not in the advert that would be useful to know.

"I applied for five jobs and got the first role I was interviewed for. I didn’t find it hard to get the right job, although having past experience in the sector really helped.

"If you’re interested in working in campaigns it really is experience that counts – but that can come from anywhere. If you’ve ever been part of a local campaign group for a national organisation like Amnesty International, if you’ve changed something in your local community or volunteered for a political party – talk about that."

If you think you want to undertake postgraduate study but something is holding you back, I would really encourage you to have a conversation with someone at Bradford to explore what’s possible. I never really saw myself having a postgraduate degree, and not only did I achieve that, I loved the journey.

Advice for others

"Enjoy your time studying – it will be all too short, especially compared with how long we all spend working. Having said that, do keep an eye on what you can do while studying to get the right job. Research the kinds of job you would like, look at the job descriptions and fill in any gaps you have. Think creatively about what transferable skills you have and what experience you can get that is relevant to what they’re asking for. Make contacts and ask for advice from the careers service and academic staff.

"I’m enjoying furthering my career for now but I would never rule out coming back for a PhD. Time and space to think and learn is wonderful at any age."