In November, five recent Politics graduates returned to Sheffield Hallam to share about their next steps after university and to offer advice to current students.
Henna began the event by sharing about her current role in recruitment as part of the Civil Service Fast Stream. This involves completing a Masters in Business Management and Human Resources. Prior to entry onto the scheme she completed an internship with the Civil Service, working on projects to promote equality and diversity throughout the service and in their recruitment. Following this she worked for Oxfam and Morrisons in management roles, emphasising her aim to gain a breadth of experience across the public, private and voluntary sectors. She is now assisting with recruitment on the Fast Stream (www.gov.uk/faststream) including the planning of assessment centres.
Postgraduate students Matt and Oliver shared about their postgraduate courses in Politics and Contemporary Studies at the University of Sheffield. Both highlighted the step up in the workload and difficulty at Masters level. On Matt’s course he is required to prepare a presentation for every seminar and undertake extensive independent study. He shared an example of one student being sent out of a seminar because they hadn’t done the required reading! From speaking to professionals within counter terrorism, Matt’s career area of interest, he understood that a Masters would be useful to deepen his knowledge. On the course he has had the opportunity to join research groups, assist lecturers with research, and network with relevant professionals. His view is that:
“You have to make a serious decision if you choose a Masters. It’s an amazing experience, but it’s a lot of work.”
Both graduates highlighted the value of meeting a diverse range of people and sharing seminars with a large number of international students, with individuals from Kazakhstan, Afghanistan and Australia, bringing a different perspective to discussions. Oliver had found the Masters application process straightforward, but highlighted the importance of investigating funding options including the Professional Career Development loan. He is also heavily involved in the local Labour party and recently become chair of the Broomhill ward. He encouraged the students to
“Get involved with local politics as much as possible, this gives you the opportunity to apply the knowledge form your degree on a practical level.”
Next, Apryl spoke about her varied activities since graduating,including her current role as young person representative on the executive committee of the Bakers Food & Allied Workers Union (www.bfawu.org/). This involves making decisions about what the union does and what campaigns they get involved in. She travels a lot, campaigning and speaking to groups of people and is currently campaigning for a minimum wage of £10 per hour within the fast food industry. Her interest in this area stemmed from her undergraduate dissertation and interviews with trade unionists and politicians. She is also on the board of directors for the BFAWU Credit Union, which involves working on accounts and approving loans at a fair interest rate. During the summer, Apryl spent 3 months participating in an international development project in Honduras which was funded through the Department for International Development (http://www.volunteerics.org/ ). She will also be visiting Vietnam to conduct research on trade unions to contribute to her future career goal of becoming a researcher for a trade union or left leaning think tank. Apryl encouraged the group to:
“Get involved in anything political,” as her previous involvement in the SHU Politics Society, Labour Society and Peoples’ Assembly whilst at university had been crucial in developing her political ideas and experience.
Finally, Grace shared about her role as Marketing and Communications Coordinator at product and service design company Great Fridays (http://greatfridays.com/about/ ). She secured the role after hearing about it through a friend, emphasising the importance of networking. She is solely responsible for managing the company brand through social media, highlighting the value that a graduate can bring to an organisation through use of new media. She has injected personality and current news into their social media presence through their blog, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn and travels frequently between their different offices. In the future she is keen to progress within the company and undertake further training.
Networking in practice, as Politics graduates Henna and Grace exchange business cards
Following the talks, there was a period of networking where students had the chance to chat to the graduates, find out more about their experiences and gain insight. A big thank you, to all our Politics graduates for sharing their experiences.
Employment Adviser, Careers and Employment