Finishing what you didn’t mean to start

It’s involved about 3 years of studying whilst working full time, 14 assignments, around 100,000 words 2015-01-22 12.16.15 2and I dread to think how many hours of my life, but this week I graduated from De Montfort University with a First Class Honours degree in Housing. I will now also become a Chartered Member of the CIH (maybe even a Fellow when the structure is changed).

I never set out to complete a housing degree (I already hold a degree in law with French from the University of Sheffield); back in 2009 when I started in housing as a graduate management trainee, I was satisfied with a one-year Level 4 Certificate in Housing. This course gave me a great overview of a sector I knew very little about and gave me the opportunity to study the theory whilst I was learning the practice in the workplace.

Then in 2012, a course at DMU caught my eye, a University Certificate in Housing, focusing on the key issues facing the sector such as the Montague Review into the private rented sector and institutional investment, customer insight, nudge theory, devolution and evidence-based policy-making. I knew if I wanted to progress in my career, I needed to have a good grasp of these issues and the course would provide me with a well-supported, resourced and structured way to do this. I was also quite excited to go back to uni, to attend lectures and workshops and just generally swan around campus. The content of this course has been so valuable and the great thing about the assignments was that they asked you to apply the theory to your own workplace which not only made it relevant but meant that I could use that knowledge in the office to improve things/advance my career. Indeed, my understanding of the theory and its application in the workplace was recognised in 2013 when the CIH Midlands awarded me their Student of the Year prize.

So having thoroughly enjoyed this second year of study, I couldn’t resist the invitation to complete a 15,000 word dissertation on a topic of my choosing which would ‘top up’ my previous studies to a BSc (Hons) in Housing. Whilst taking this on was a significant commitment, involving many a weekend spent reading countless books and journals, I was excited by the opportunity to choose my own topic and complete some independent research and hopefully contribute to the housing debate. Just before I started this most recent and final year of study, I successfully applied to the CIH East Midlands Board’s bursary scheme and as a result I am now a member of the Board, which has helped me both develop as a housing professional, and give something back to the sector, in other ways.

I’ve blogged previously on the importance of being a student here and about the topic of my dissertation here if you’d like to know more and if you read my last blog post you’ll know that one of my ambitions this year is to have a paper published in an academic journal; I am pleased to say that the journal of Architecture, Media, Politics and Society have accepted my proposal and I will be presenting at their conference later in the year :)

Whilst I know studying isn’t for everyone (and for some people it terrifies them), I would encourage every housing professional to consider a CIH course of some description, because they are so beneficial to your personal and professional development. And that can only lead to an improved housing sector and services to customers, which is what it’s really all about.

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