#MondayMotivation: What Does Your Future in International Development Look Like?


Welcome to the start of a brand new week! We’re taking some time this week to explore what a future working in international development might look like, with a whole range of organisations and alumni coming back to SOAS to reflect on what this rewarding sector can offer you.

Head to the International Development Fair this Wed 21 Feb, 1 – 4pm in the Cloisters Paul Webley to find out more. Hear from the International Committee of the Red Cross, the London International Development Centre, the Centre for Feminist Foreign Policy and loads more awesome social enterprises.

Come and get involved with all the other inspiring talks happening this week too.

Mon 19 Feb, 12 – 1pm, SL62: DISCO Presentation: BOOK NOW

Tue 20 Feb,  12 – 1pm, SL62: Top Tips for Interviews: BOOK NOW

Tue 20 Feb, 2:30 – 4:30pm, Brunei Gallery Suite: Diversity in the Civil Service Fast Stream: BOOK NOW

Wed 21 Feb, 12 – 2pm, SL62: Top Tips for Assessment Centres & Psychometric Testing: BOOK NOW

Alexis Fromageot



Insight From Your Fellow Student: My Summer with the Civil Service

As part of our Student Insight blog series, Harmanjit Sidhu, BA History (grad 2017) and Ambitious Futures Graduate Trainee at SOAS for 2017/18, talks through her recent experience of the Civil Service’s Summer Diversity Internship Programme. 


I have to admit, I was quite apprehensive about sacrificing possibly my last ever summer holidays to complete the Civil Service’s Summer Diversity Internship Programme. On reflection, it was probably one of the most beneficial experiences of my life.

For seven weeks, I was based at the Ministry of Defence, working on the Covenant Grant Fund which helps to support ex-servicemen and women through funding local projects. Some of these were based on helping veterans find work after completing their service, whilst other projects focused on aiding veterans who suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

I was given the responsibility of producing a case study booklet, evaluating the success of some projects the Grant had funded in the past. I had to finally present this to a senior steering group of the fund, which was made up of both military generals and civil servants. It was quite possibly the most frightening experience of my life- but as soon as it was over I can’t remember feeling more proud of myself! The final case study booklet is now used within the department as a key piece of publicity, and is distributed as events to showcase the achievements of the Fund. Therefore, in some ways, I have left behind an enduring legacy.

The range of projects on offer for interns is huge. Following a successful application, you are allocated to a department and project. For most people this is pretty random, however, if there is a project which is aligned to interests you mentioned in your written application, or on the phone interview, you are assigned to it. I was also able to indicate my preference for the type of work I wanted to do, e.g. Communications over technical/ operational. Fellow interns were placed in departments like Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), the Cabinet Office, the National Crime Agency and so on. Their projects included updating travel advice on the FCO website based on new information, evaluating a project completed by the team in the past, or conducting interviews to gather feedback on a new software.

The project and the overall experience of working within the civil service has provided me with a whole range of new skills. In producing the case study booklet I had to communicate with a hugely varied range of people, from senior diplomatic figures, to army generals, to on the ground grass root activists. As well as this, I had to plan, write and design the content and layout of the booklet too. I was given additional responsibilities of reporting back after attending conferences, attending high level meetings (after signing an official secrets act- all very exciting!), as well as the day to day communications with current grant holders, and chasing end of year grant reports.

Interns were also given ample opportunities to network across other government departments. At the beginning you attend a huge opening ceremony, normally held at the FCO, and there are a number of other events during the summer where the entire cohort of interns gets together. You have the opportunity to meet assessment day coordinators, ask current fast streamers questions, and meet representatives of different government departments who are happy to offer advice and guidance. You are also given a ‘mentor’, normally a fast streamer who can help provide specific advice on the project you are completing, as well as helping you out with Fast Stream application questions. I received some great advice from my own mentor, and have kept in touch with him since I left the scheme.

Increasing diversity and improving representation is a huge objective at the moment, and rightly so. Time and time again, as interns were told about how vital the issue of representation is for the government. The SDIP scheme taught me how much variety there is on offer if you work for the government. If you’re somebody who believes passionately in using your career to create meaningful and lasting change, and you meet the criteria for applying, then challenge yourself to completing the SDIP this summer. It could change your life!

Harmanjit Sidhu

Please note that the views expressed in this blog are those of the author and unless specifically stated are not those of SOAS Careers Service. If you consider this content to be in breach of the SOAS values, please alert careers@soas.ac.uk

#FridayFeeling Guest Blog: ‘Tea, Cake and Ambitious Futures’

Guest blog from Tom Fryer, who is the Ambitious Futures Graduate Trainee at SOAS for 2016/17.

Please note that the views expressed in this blog are those of the author and unless specifically stated are not those of SOAS Careers Service. If you consider this content to be in breach of the SOAS values, please alert careers@soas.ac.uk


Few people can resist an email with a subject line referring to both ‘Tea’ and ‘Cake’, but it wasn’t just my stomach that led me to Ambitious Futures. A quick glance around the website and I was instantly intrigued at the prospect of seeing how universities function from a staff perspective – or perhaps it was simply that a graduate programme in the field of Higher Education seemed a tad more interesting than the Foucault reading assignment on my desk. The idea of working on three placements over 15 months sounded like a great way to pick up a broad range of skills. Plus, getting to grips with three projects over such a short period seemed the perfect test of my oft-repeated cover letter claims to tenacity!

A couple of months later, I found myself navigating an application and phone interview, before attending an assessment day run specifically for the SOAS Ambitious Futures programme. The day at SOAS had been carefully planned to try to simulate activities that Ambitious Futures Graduate Trainees are faced with on a regular basis, from negotiations in meetings, to drafting proposals. I know that ‘assessment day’ doesn’t exactly scream ‘fun’, but there was something about the practical focus (none of those damned logical reasoning tests) and constant interaction with other candidates that made the day pretty enjoyable.

One thing that has continued to stand-out across the application, interviews and orientation for Ambitious Futures, is the emphasis on personal development. As part of the programme everyone works towards a management qualification, ILM Leadership and Management Level 3, which is a great opportunity to reflect a little more deeply on management and workplace dynamics. More importantly, this qualification is taught through Learning Sets, or meetings with six other Ambitious Futures Graduate Trainees from other universities in and around London (if Oxford really counts as ‘in and around London’). This seems to be a great way to learn, as we’re all likely to experience similar challenges in our new work, but also it’s an amazing chance to get to know a bunch of other people who are passionate about contributing to the transformative work of universities.

For more information and to apply, visit the Ambitious Futures website.

Tom Fryer, SOAS Ambitious Futures Graduate Trainee (2016/17)


Guest Blog: From SOAS Student to SOAS Staff

Guest blog from Harmanjit Sidhu, who is the Ambitious Futures Graduate Trainee at SOAS for 2017/18.

Please note that the views expressed in this blog are those of the author and unless specifically stated are not those of SOAS Careers Service. If you consider this content to be in breach of the SOAS values, please alert careers@soas.ac.uk


Walking in to SOAS three years ago as undergraduate History student, I never expected to wind up working here. My first few student days at SOAS were a blur of places, faces and names. My first few days as a Staff member at SOAS have been much of the same!

There are definite similarities in the student and staff experience (the building obviously, the queue for the cash machine, the strange extremes in temperature in rooms- freezing cold or boiling hot) but pretty much everything else is completely different.
As a student, you never put much thought into the work going on ‘behind the scenes’ and it has just dawned on me how much machinery is working hard to keep the institute running, whilst seeking ways to maximise the student/staff experience.

For me, it seems a career in Higher Education is a well guarded secret, but once you’re in on it, it’s easy to be impressed by the huge variety of roles and people working here. I have already been exposed to a huge number of issues and problems that had never occurred to me while I was a student here, whilst also being exposed to the various departments handling these issues with innovative strategies and ideas.

A recurring theme from conversations with colleagues over the last few weeks has been ‘too much work, not enough resources’. That’s one of my favourite things about the scheme- I am able to lend a hand to various departments who have brilliant ideas but require an extra pair of hands to bring them to life.

My current posting is in the Library, working on a collaborative project with the Research and Enterprise Office and Staff Learning and Development, looking at ways in which we can improve the induction process for Early Career Researchers and also the ways in which we can improve the support offered to this group. (If you’re reading this as an Early Career Researcher, I would love to hear your thoughts on this).

As a Graduate Trainee on this scheme, I will be posted into three different departments on various projects. Two of these will take place right here at SOAS, and one at the University of Oxford. Whilst I am not looking forward to the idea of that commute, it will be a great chance to develop my knowledge of the sector.

SOAS is a fantastic institution- a place where great minds from all over the world come to
share ideas, where students come to the meet the world, where challenges are faced with
innovation and strategy. Working here for just the last few weeks has just reinforced these opinions, and I am excited about the opportunities the next few months will bring!

For more information about the scheme and to apply head here or email me at hs62@soas.ac.uk.

Harmanjit Sidhu, SOAS Ambitious Futures Graduate Trainee (2017/18)


#FridayFeeling: Join the Team at SOAS


Happy Friday! Graduated recently and miss being in the midst of the incredible world of SOAS? 

Good news: SOAS Careers is looking for a recent SOAS graduate to act as a graduate intern for the rest of the academic year (till the end of July).

Your role would be to work with the Events and Internships team to support activity in sourcing interesting employers to come onto campus or for our students do do internships. For more information, take a look at the Job Description.

If you are interested, please complete this Google form and send us a copy of your CV to careers@soas.ac.uk by midday on Wednesday 1 November.

Interviews will be held on Tuesday 7 November

Looking forward to hearing from you! 

Alexis Fromageot


#MondayMotivation: Public Sector Week


Fancy changing the world? This week at SOAS Careers is all about life in the Public Sector! Come along the Careers Zone in SL62 to meet a massive range of employers from the Public Sector, and get some really pertinent advice about taking your next steps in that direction.


Not interested in the public sector? Don’t even worry – pop by SL62 and we can talk through anything else to do with your next steps.

Mon 23 Oct, 3 – 4:30pm, Careers Seminar Room (SL62): NHS Assessment Centre Game: http://bit.ly/2gAOZrh

Wed 25 Oct, 11:30 – 12:30pm, Careers Seminar Room (SL62): Premier Pathways Presentation: http://bit.ly/2itZpJZ

Wed 25 Oct, 1 – 4pm, Cloisters, Paul Webley Wing: Public Sector & Teaching Fair: http://bit.ly/2gAfoWc

Thu 26 Oct, 11 – 12pm, Careers Seminar Room (SL62): Shanghai Meiji Presentation: http://bit.ly/2laKG7y

Thu 26 Oct, 1:20 – 2:30pm, Careers Seminar Room (SL62): JET Presentation: http://bit.ly/2gvIJNX

Thu 26 Oct, 2:30 – 3:30pm, Careers Seminar Room (SL62): DAIWA Presentation: http://bit.ly/2zvLRAR

Get involved!

Alexis Fromageot


#MondayMotivation: Business, Finance & Management Week


The best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago. The second best time is today ~ Japanese proverb

Thinking about taking your next steps in to the world of business and finance? This week at SOAS Careers is all about that! Come along to our great range of events and learn more about how you can shape your future.

Get booked on via MySOAS Student here.


4:30 – 6pm Government Economic Service Presentation, SL62


1 – 3:30pm Into University: Volunteer Training Session, SL62


1 – 4pm Business, Finance & Management Fair, Cloisters Paul Webley Wing


1 – 2pm Charity Job: Introduction to Charity Sector, SL62


2 – 3:30pm Open Society Foundations Presentation, SL62

See you there!

Alexis Fromageot


Insight From Your Fellow Student: Working at the Civil Service

As part of our Student Insight blog series, Ranya Alakraa, BSc Development Studies & Economics (graduated 2016) explores her journey from SOAS to the Civil Service Fast Stream. 


It was the end of the summer after our 2nd year at uni, our third and final year was in sight, until this point I had never thought about my career. My friend called me and informed me grad scheme applications were opening soon. We dialled in a few other friends and in the middle of this four-way conversation the panic set in. What were we doing with our futures?

We all met the very next day in SOAS to figure out our life-plans; we climbed up to the Career’s Office and collected every possible leaflet or brochure on grad schemes, jobs, internships, CV and cover letter writing. By the end of this we were all a little overwhelmed.

We went back to the JCR and started sifting through all these papers, circling and highlighting things which appealed to us. Another friend spotted us and came over; he saw the air of panic surrounding me and asked me a really good question that I myself had never properly thought about. He said where do you see yourself in the future, what is the ideal job you would be doing? So I thought about it for a few minutes, and I said I would be working in policy somewhere in the government, with a focus on economic development. So he told me he had been doing the Summer Diversity Internship for the Civil Service, and that I should consider applying for the Fast Stream…and so I did!

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A few months later, in December of my final year, I had a job offer as an Economist in the Civil Service Fast Stream, and it was all thanks to that fateful day when we all sat in the SOAS JCR! It was a rigorous application process, but doing it so early on in the year meant that I already had a job offer before the New Year and I could focus fully on revision and those final essays in the Spring term.

A few lessons I learnt from my own experience, I probably should have started thinking about jobs and my career earlier on. Doing internships and getting work experience throughout your undergraduate degree is very useful. Doing research on what is out there is even more important, I hadn’t even heard about the Fast Stream until my friend told me about it! And finally, I definitely did not make enough use of the SOAS Career’s Service which probably could have told me about all the opportunities out there and would have helped me with things like job applications.

Nevertheless, I am now working as an Assistant Economist in the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. As part of the Fast Stream I get to rotate after a year to another department, it’s a great opportunity to see how government works from the inside, and how Economics is so crucial to every step of the policy process. I love my job and I can see a really clear future for myself here, but there are plenty of schemes other than the Economics one as part of the Fast Stream, read more about them here!

Ranya Alakraa

Please note that the views expressed in this blog are those of the author and unless specifically stated are not those of SOAS Careers Service. If you consider this content to be in breach of the SOAS values, please alert careers@soas.ac.uk.


International Women’s Day Celebration Event TODAY


Celebrate International Women’s Day with a whole host of events across SOAS University of London and University of London!

Come and hear from inspiring women talking about their workplace successes TODAY at 1pm City, University of London.

This FREE event is taking place at Northampton Suite, City, University of London, Northampton Square campus, EC1V 0HB

To mark International Women’s Day, inspiring women from different industries will be coming together to discuss what success looks like, both in the workplace and wider life. The panel will be discussing and offering insight on the following:

  • What does success look like for different women?
  • How do leading women in industry achieve work-life balance?
  • What can organisations do to better support women and their progression.
  • Practical tips to tackle key issues such as salary negotiation.

The panel includes women in senior roles from across a range of industries. After a period of panel discussion there will be opportunities to talk to our panellists directly during a Q&A and then following up with some nibbles and networking.

  • Sara Fox, Principal, Fox&Co. Consulting
  • Chloe Challender, Deputy Director of Security, House of Parliament and former co-Chair of Workplace Equality Network, Parliagender
  • Sharon Northey, Securities Associate Manager, Accenture
  • Kate White, CEO, National Centre for Circus Arts
  • Emma Thomas, Head of Employment Law, Essex County Council
  • MaameYaa Kwafo-Akoto, Associate, Allen & Overy 
  • Jackie Wilgar, Senior Vice President, Marketing – International, LiveNation

This event is FREE!

Students and staff can sign up to join, by emailing careersevents@city.ac.uk

Alexis Fromageot


What’s on this Week: Third Sector Week


Passionate about making a difference? Keen to change the world for the better? Then this week is all for you! We’re taking a look at careers in the third sector – both if it’s your first time stepping in to this rewarding industry or if you’re looking to go back in to this sector after a break.

Not quite sure if this is the path for you, or want to explore more about what working within the third sector will look like? We’re open every day in SL57 and would love to talk your next steps through with you.

Here’s what’s on for Third Sector week:


Mon 6 March, 5:30 – 7pm, B111, Brunei Gallery: Working in the Third Sector: http://bit.ly/2mTUNtC

Wed 8 March, 10:30 – 11:30am, Careers Learning Zone (SL62), Paul Webley Wing:  Career options (with IFMR LEAD) for Students with Passion in Addressing the World’s Most Pressing Development Issues: http://bit.ly/2miSkvD

Wed 8 March, 1:30 – 2:30pm, S118, Paul Webley Wing: CVs for the Third Sector: http://bit.ly/2m3ggm2


See you there!

Alexis Fromageot