Ex-student Jamie Purnell has caught up with us to tell us what he's been up to since graduating from Canterbury Christ Church with a degree in Archaeology. 

Figures from the latest Graduate Outcomes survey show that Canterbury Christ Church University has hit the top spot for graduate employment in the UK. We're absolutely ecstatic and very proud of all of our staff, students and, of course, our alumni!

So, what better way to celebrate than having a catch up with one of our ex-students, Jamie Purnell, who's been in work with Canterbury Archaeological Trust (CAT) since graduating with us in 2021.  

Since finishing his Archaeology degree at Canterbury Christ Church University, Jamie has been incredibly busy as a commercial fieldwork archaeologist around the UK. But he’s now back to where it all began, on our Canterbury Campus. But this time, he’s working with CAT, ensuring that nothing is harmed whilst we have been building the Verena Holmes building, and the Green Room in the Fisher Lawn.

A practical and well-balanced course

Firstly, we wanted to hear about his time at CCCU:

“I studied a single honours degree in Archaeology. The best part of the degree was the fieldwork. I chose a placement module over two years, which meant I had eight weeks of placement throughout my degree, which is more than what other universities offer.

"This module really helped to introduce the concepts of archaeology that are needed in the real world. Having been taught that in seminars and lectures and then seeing it on site was really helpful. It definitely gave me good insight into starting as a fieldwork archaeologist because I knew what to expect for when I started working after graduation.

"My degree was pretty balanced with theory and practical, which was great because I learned the transferable skills needed to succeed in my both my current role and future roles. So, for example, I write a lot of reports, which I’m confident in doing since writing essays at uni. And other skills like analysis and, mainly having confidence in the workplace, all stemmed from my time at uni.”

Jamie’s time at CCCU certainly set him up for employment after he finished his degree.

“After I graduated, I got on to CAT’s training scheme, which then lead me to becoming a full-time fieldwork archaeologist. I’ve been working consistently for the Trust coming up two years now.

"I’ve been mainly doing fieldwork but it’s a job with unpredictability. So, I’ve also been driving a lot and I’ve spent some periods of time doing office work.

"You really do get a full rounded experience with fieldwork archaeology, which is what my degree reflected. Not only do you learn the practical skills, but you acquire the transferable skills as well.”

When asked about his favourite part of the job, his answer came to no surprise.

“I enjoy working with primary data. You’re one of the first people dealing these bits of archaeology since the last person had touched them, several thousand years ago in some cases, or a few 100 years ago. I also love threading together a narrative. You are part of this bigger story as well, a part of this larger human story.

"Apart from that, I love that the job’s always changing. And there are also fantastic outreach opportunities, especially with CAT. We're starting some interesting outreach projects and there's always other social and community events happening each year.”

Multiple career options thanks to his time at Canterbury Christ Church University and CAT

While Jamie has no immediate plans to leave CAT, he certainly has a lot of exciting options when it comes to his future plans.

“I’ve had so many ideas for what I want to do. This job is a very good steppingstone into any career I want, really. It’s enabled me to practise the core principles that I first learned at uni.

"I feel like I could go into many different jobs in the heritage sector. I’ve also thought about going back to university to do a Master’s degree and continue researching.

"I think I’ll keep my options open because I’m really intrigued by a lot of things. But with my Archaeology degree and my experience as a fieldworker at CAT, I feel like I have a lot of options to choose from.”

Jamie has certainly worked hard to be where he is. From graduating from CCCU in 2021 to being accepted into CAT before his graduation date, his hard work and commitment has certainly paid off.

Lastly, we asked Jamie why he chose Canterbury Christ Church University and if he would recommend it to people looking to study Archaeology.

“CCCU was just an obvious choice. Not only can you choose to do a practical placement over two years of your degree, but Canterbury is also a UNESCO World Heritage site. We’re working and studying amongst so much heritage and archaeological artifacts that are yet to be found.

"And there’s so much archaeology going on around Kent as well. Canterbury is a great location to study, and CCCU is a great uni to choose because it sets you up for employment afterwards.”

It’s great to see that Jamie has continued to flourish in his chosen profession after graduating from Canterbury Christ Church University, and we wish him all the best for the future.

If you’re looking to study Archaeology, then read more about what we offer on our website.

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