Change your world today!

It’s never too early to start thinking!

front desk

One of the great myths many students believe about Careers is that you can only come and see us if you have an idea what you want to do after SOAS.

This couldn’t be further from the truth! We do like to see students who have done research and are thinking about what they want to do after their course, but as you’ll have spotted when you registered for this year, we ask you where your career thinking is at the start of the year, and so we know how many of you have said you know what you want to do next. So far, this year and across all year groups and subjects, the total percentage of SOAS students still in the ‘deciding’ stage is 54%, so just over half, which is perfectly normal, so don’t worry if this is you.

However, now is a great time to start to advance your career thinking, no matter which year group you are in.

We’ll have sent you some online resources once you registered – these should be relevant to your stage of career thinking, so do please take a look at these.

Also, do take a look at the Careers Intranet site on MySoasStudent to see the full events listing and all the opportunities there are to find out more about different sectors – there are Fairs, employer presentations and a variety of Top Tips workshops to help you with different aspects of your own career journey. These are all free to attend, and vary through the year.

Finally, do come and see us! We are in SL62, down the grand staircase in the Paul Webley Wing, and offer drop in advice all day, with the opportunity to book a guidance meeting if need be.

Philippa Hewett.



Need financial inspiration for next year?


Wed 7 June
2 – 3pm
Careers Service, SL62 Paul Webley Wing 

Financial Support for Students are delivering a workshop TODAY! The team regularly delivers workshops across the UK to students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Come along to find out more about the plethora of non-repayable sources that can be accessed to obtain grants in order to avoid: dropping out of education, incurring further debt.

Head here to register!

Alexis Fromageot

Something for the weekend: Careers advice from Humbug the Careers cat

If you were in the Paul Webley Wing cloisters last Thursday (4 May) visiting the Wellbeing for Exams stands, you might have seen Humbug the Careers cat.

He popped in to offer a calming purr to students in the throes of revision and exams, and gave us this exclusive interview.


When asked what the most popular question was from students, Humbug noted that once they were cuddling him, their main questions were around why his fur was so soft, and how he could be so chilled when there were queues of people waiting to greet him.

He did point out that stroking a cat reduces both the human’s and the cat’s blood pressure, so he had generally enjoyed the experience even though it had involved public transport in the rush hour and so he did need a bit of a cuddle to help him recover.

Humbug’s top careers advice, useful for exams as well, is ‘make sure you get enough sleep’. Clearly as a cat, his idea of enough sleep is something more than 16 hours a day, but if we humans can get half of that we’d be doing rather well.

Humbug (or possibly his uncle, Professor Lupin) will be visiting us next Friday 11 May to dispense more cuddles and careers advice – and if you need to talk to anybody about your career ideas before then, you can try our website or simply pop in to see us in SL67 in the Paul Webley Wing.


Philippa Hewett




All you need to know about Graduate Entrepreneur Tier 1 Visas



Every year, SOAS has a small number of endorsement licenses that mean we can endorse our enterprising graduates.  These are exclusively available to Tier 4 visa holders who are current students.

The process for applying is simple.

If you have a viable and innovative business or enterprise idea and want to take this to market in the UK, this is a great opportunity for you.  The idea must show visible benefits to the local community.

As part of the application process for endorsement from SOAS, you will be expected to submit the following documentation:

  • A business plan summarising your business idea, market research, marketing plan, customer analysis and pricing model.
  • A 12 month financial forecast
  • CV
  • Covering Letter

Shortlisted applicants will be expected to present their business idea to a panel. The next deadline for application is 11.59pm on May 31st 2017.  If you are shortlisted, the judging panel which you will be asked to present at is taking place on Thursday 29th June between 2pm – 4pm (each presentation slot will be 20 minutes maximum).

Before you apply you must first meet with the Student Advisor (Immigration and Finance) to determine your eligibility for the Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur visa.

For support through the application process, you are welcome to book an enterprise appointment with the SOAS Careers Service.  These are available on Friday afternoons.

To apply, please submit the requested documents to

Jai Shah, Careers Consultant

Something for the Weekend: Masters Week

Italy City Scenography Colors Door Entrance Books

As we hurtle ever closer to the end of term, here’s a guilt-free way to add 2 seconds on to your essay procrastination. To celebrate all things further education for Careers week, we’re taking a look at what Academics Say…!

Inspired to go on and study but not quite sure how you want your next steps after to SOAS to look? Not to worry – come by SL57 and we can have a chat about where to even start thinking about the future.

Alexis Fromageot


Find out more about the Fast Stream

Guest blog from Rachel, Bijan and Dan who are SOAS alumni on the Generalist Fast Stream.

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

hero-topleft-1Why do SOAS alumni love being on the Fast Stream?

We’re four SOAS alumni who are now in our second year on the Generalist Fast Stream.  We all studied different subjects, have differing levels of work experience, and have ended up in diverse roles since entering the Fast Stream. What we have in common is that we all loved our time at SOAS, think the Fast Stream offers a great career, and are keen to do what we can to help our fellow SOAS students get in too! Over the last few weeks, you may have seen us around campus at various events. We’ve got plenty more planned, so keep an eye on the SOAS careers emails or email to sign up to our mailing list.

In this blog, three of us share some key aspects of our experiences of the Fast Stream. Don’t know what the Fast Stream is? Skip to the bottom for a handy overview.

Rachel, BA Chinese (Modern and Classical) 2013

I postponed joining the Fast Stream for two years while I taught secondary English with Teach First up in Bradford, which was a really valuable experience. There are several other partner schemes that you can defer your place on the Fast Stream for: Frontline (children’s social work); Police Now; and Think Ahead (mental health social work), to name a few. My experiences of working in frontline public services have been hugely informative in my work within the Civil Service and helped me see the value in what we do.

My Fast Stream postings have been really varied. I started off with the International Visa Operation leading on Workforce Capability. As part of this role, I reformed the way that seasonal staff are recruited to our visa operation in Beijing which actually meant I ended up coming back to SOAS to recruit. I also got to go to Paris to visit our visa operation there. I then went on to the Office for Life Sciences where I was developing the digital health policy for the Accelerated Access Review, an independently chaired review looking into how to speed up NHS patients’ access to drugs, diagnostics, medical technology and digital health products. It was definitely a policy area that was easy to feel passionate about & it was really wonderful to see the impact of the review when it was published in October. I’m currently on secondment to the Higher Education Funding Council for England working in procurement strategy – it’s interesting to have the opportunity to work outside a ministerial department as it really does feel quite different.

There are a few things that stand out for me about the Fast Stream: the breadth of experience you’re able to get; the ability to make a tangible impact on people’s lives; how interesting the work often is, and the level of responsibility you’re given early in your career. The Civil Service is also an excellent employer – as well as a decent salaries, the Civil Service offers fantastic parental leave policies and an enviable pension.

At the induction week, it came up in discussion that many of us felt a degree of ‘imposter’ syndrome – that we didn’t deserve to be there. In fact, the range of skills, personalities and backgrounds of the people on the Fast Stream really show that there isn’t a model ‘Fast Streamer’, so please don’t be put off applying by thinking that you don’t conform to any stereotypes that you’ve heard about!

Bijan, BA Economics and Politics 2014

I’ve had really great exposure to a variety of roles – which has allowed me to understand how to make a difference as a public leader. The Fast Stream gives you real responsibility in a supportive environment – you are encouraged to develop your own ideas, contribute to the teams you are joining and apply yourself to some of the biggest issues facing our society. For someone who has always been passionate about social affairs (not a surprise being a Soasian!), it’s been an ideal graduate scheme.

For example, in my first posting my line manager really encouraged me to build upon my pre-existing interests and use them in my posting, as part of the Offender Management Unit in the Ministry of Justice. I discussed how I’d like to gain practical experience working with international institutions to complement my studies  – so I was assigned a role within my team which meant I was responsible for talking to different embassies across the world to understand their offender management strategies, and produce a report for the Secretary of State setting out my findings.

Dan, BA History and Politics 2015

I hadn’t really thought about my career until my final year of university. I hadn’t spent my summers interning, if I was doing anything productive it was concentrating on my studies at SOAS (which I loved!). When I got to my final year and started looking out into the world of life after studying, it just seemed really big and inaccessible. I was overwhelmed by the sense I didn’t know how to get a good job, or what a good job looked like. I just knew I wasn’t ready to pin myself down to anything and I wanted to do something in public affairs, so I could put what I’d learnt at SOAS into practice. As I was looking into things – I started reading about the Fast Stream and it seemed like the perfect thing for me – it promised the opportunity to be right in the centre of politics, and the opportunity to try lots of new things. It’s been everything I hoped it would be so far. Just like SOAS it’s challenged me to think about problems creatively and to think  past the initial headline.

I’ve had the opportunity to act as a User Researcher for DWP – meeting real people to understand how changes to the benefit system would affect their day to day lives, and reporting my findings back to project teams and policy leads. Now I’m working on health policy– working to try and find the solutions that will make our NHS as a strong as it can be!

I’m not the old civil service stereotype of bowler hats and suits – my parents arrived in this country 29 years ago, as refugees. Far from being a barrier, today in the civil service, we recognise that valuing people’s different experiences equips us to better serve the country. The Civil Service needs intelligent, passionate people to come and make a difference – I can’t recommend giving it a shot highly enough.

Not sure what the Fast Stream is? Read on!

What is the Civil Service Fast Stream?

The Civil Service Fast Stream has been a key graduate recruitment programme in the Civil Service for over 65 years! There are 15 different programmes which all differ significantly, but include the Diplomatic Fast Stream, the Generalist Fast Stream, the HR Fast Stream, the Project Delivery Fast Stream, and the European Fast Stream.

What do you do day to day?

Fast Streamers’ day jobs vary hugely as we work right across government. You could have one posting developing policy on non-EU imports of porcine semen, and another procuring emergency shelters for DFID. It’s part of what makes meeting up with other Fast Streamers interesting – everyone’s job is really different!

What’s the salary like?

The starting salary is competitive among graduate schemes – £28,000 a year. There are also additional benefits such as funded professional qualifications, an excellent pension, and starting off with a permanent contract.

How do I apply?

All applications are done online. Go to:

Where do I find out more?

Check out the Fast Stream website. There’s also a helpful brochure outlining all the different schemes available.

Still haven’t answered your question?

You’re very welcome to email us on if you can’t find the answer to your question on the Fast Stream website.

I want to change the world – why should I be interested in business or finance?

This is a completely understandable comment we hear from a lot of students at SOAS, and it is not surprising – a lot of our alumni have gone on to do just that and  hold positions of responsibility in charities and NGOs.

However, is it worth taking a moment to consider that if you know where you want to get to, what is the most sensible way to get there? Sometimes the seemingly most direct route to a goal is not the most sensible one.

So, take the case of a student wanting to work in a charity. It is entirely possible to follow the usual route – get lots of voluntary experience, move on to vacation work or internships, and eventually graduate and move into an entry level role before working up to a senior position, and a great many SOAS students do just that.

An alternative might be to consider taking a more indirect route to your goal. A lot of students now take a slightly sideways step into (say) accountancy, get qualified with a commercial firm, and then are able to find themselves a role at a more senior level in the charity or NGO of their choice.

Worth a thought maybe? If you’d like to explore options around this area, come and see the Careers team and a selection of interesting organisations at the Business & Finance Fair tomorrow in the Cloisters, Paul Webley Wing from 1-4.


Philippa Hewett

Looking for Part Time work? Start here!


Working part time can be essential to provide financial income whilst studying. It can also be a fantastic opportunity to develop valuable skills, gain experience in a particular area, and make contacts useful moving forwards. Many part time and flexible opportunities exist across the majority of sectors. Keep an open mind when searching.

Example vacancies currently live include…

** Public Affairs Intern – 2 days a week**

** Freelance Arabic Translator at Family For Every Child (non-profit) – Flexible / piece work **

** Events Host at Royal Museums Greenwich – part time **

** English Tutor – flexible hours **

Your options:

  • What do you want to do? Look for opportunities within organisations and sectors which interest you.
  • What do you have to offer? What are your skills? Are you fluent in other languages? Do you have experience and understanding of another culture? Do you have experience in social media marketing? Ensure these are fully demonstrated on your CV, and use these to direct your job hunt.
  • Be realistic – how much time and energy do you have to offer alongside your course? How flexible can you be?
  • Are you on an International visa? This can mean restrictions on the amount of hours you can work, and the type of work you can do. See the UK Council for International Student Affairs for more details.


Where to start looking…


Know your rights:

It is important to be safe and aware when working and searching for jobs. Employers and agencies have obligations to treat you in a certain way.

  • When looking for work you should never have to pay an agency fees upfront for job searches
  • When working you must be given a written contract within two months.

Citizens Advice and the government have further details.


For further support, and to review CVs and applications, come to SOAS Careers.


** vacancies live 5th Oct 2016

Alice Moon, Careers Consultant

Guest Blog: Finding career opportunities in unlikely places

Guest blog from James, SOAS student, BA Religion (Graduating summer 2018)

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


I am just about to start my second year studying religion as an undergraduate and although I love my course, it isn’t vocational and I sometimes worry about where my degree will take me. Like many other students who have chosen to study at SOAS, I want a career in international development, but how? And doing what?

At the start of the summer I worked for SOAS on the alumni calling campaign to raise money for scholarships. When you make these phone calls you cross your fingers and hope for the best. Unsurprisingly, we hear “no” a lot but occasionally you have a great conversation and we were encouraged to chat to alumni about careers and our hopes for the future.

That’s how I first got talking to Tara Carey, the Media Relations Manager for Farm Africa, an international development charity which supporters smallholder farmers across eastern Africa to grow more, sell more and sell for more.

During our chat Tara described what her job at Farm Africa involved and mentioned that they run a volunteer placement scheme in the communication team. When she suggested I send in my CV I jumped at the change, eagerly emailing it over to her before even putting the phone down.

Emails often get buried in people’ inboxes so a week later when I hadn’t heard anything I decided to drop off a hardcopy of my CV at Tara’s office. Looking back now it seems out of character and even pushy but I really think it made the difference. As I was waiting by the elevator to leave, Tara came dashing out to catch me. We had an impromptu interview and she offered me a work placement then and there.

Before I started, I imagined making lots of tea but it’s not been like that. Right from day one I’ve been included in the work. I’ve done research, picture editing and copywriting, I’ve even placed a couple of stories in the media. Throughout the time, Tara and the rest of the team have taught me tons about how a charity works and they have helped me develop a range of new skills.

Prior to Farm Africa I’d volunteered at two other charities but neither placement gave me much of a sense of what it would be like to work there, and I came away still unclear as to what type of job I would like to pursue.

I’d always had an intangible idea about being a writer, but when I became interested in international development I didn’t know how I could combine it. I’d never considered charity communications before but I’ve really enjoyed my Farm Africa placement – it’s a real buzz to see a piece of writing you have worked on appearing in a national newspaper or for an editor to take a story you have pitched. Beyond the skills and experience I have gained, I’ve gotten a new outlook on what my future career could be…

For more information about Farm Africa please visit or follow us on Twitter @FarmAfrica. Farm Africa also has a society at SOAS for more information email:

James, SOAS student, BA Religion (Graduating summer 2017)

Arnie’s 6 rules of success

Arnie in a suit

No matter what your views on Arnold Shwarzenegger (and it does seem to have been Arnie week this week) you can’t deny he is a good speaker.

So here to end the week is his 6 rules of success – if you want to see the video it is on youtube here:

The rules seem to be useful for pretty much any situation, and particularly relevant to Careers – see what you think:

  1. Trust yourself. That probably means you need to get to know yourself first – what makes you tick; what makes you cross; what sacrifices would you make to get to your dream job? If you need somebody to talk this over with, come and see us!
  2. Break some rules. Note this is rules, not laws! This is about working out whose rules they are – so if you want to become an accountant in a charity and don’t have a finance degree, yes you can do it (come and ask us in Careers how that works!).
  3. Don’t be afraid to fail. See the post which started off this week’s Arnie series- there are more failures than successes in life, and failure is one of the main drivers for success if you play it right. How many people do you know who have had it easy and crumble when they hit a roadblock? Failure can be really useful if you know how to deal with it constructively. We can help you with that if you like – come and book a short guidance appointment in Careers.
  4. Don’t listen to negative people. Obviously sometimes they are right – but you will know who are the people who always pour cold water on your ideas just for the sake of it. Ignore them! Find somebody who will listen and give constructive feedback. We are good at that in Careers.
  5. Work hard. Success doesn’t come from dreaming about it or simply visualising what it would feel like – it comes from the hard slog of doing what might seem to be dull repetitive tasks which become the building blocks of  future achievements. OK there’s not much we can do to help you with that one in Careers other than to encourage you!
  6. Give something back.Everybody who volunteers or gives service to others does say how rewarding it is, so why not give it a try? We advertise volunteering opportunities on JobOnline or there are always local opportunities available in your local paper, library etc.

What do you think? We love to get your feedback!

Philippa Hewett