#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



Happy Chinese New Year #YearoftheDog2018


The Year of the Dog starts today: where will this year lead you?
As it’s Reading Week, maybe you could give yourself some time to think about what you might be doing this time next year?
We know that one of the toughest issues for most students is career choice – there is so much out there and SOAS students have so many skills that sometimes it can be hard to know where to start.
If you have been meaning to do some career thinking, how about giving yourself 15 minutes today exploring the wealth of information on the Careers pages on MySOAS Student?
If you are still deciding what you might like to do after SOAS, then you can’t do better than click on the ‘Start Thinking’ tab, as there is a loads of pertinent information to help you to consider the sort of role that would really interest you.
Then maybe take some time to reflect – could you see yourself in different types of roles? How might you find out more?
And then when you are next on campus, come and see us in the Careers Zone, Paul Webley Wing! We have a great team of people ready to help you to make your next step, from working out what interests you through to applying for a role.
And if you are really unsure and just need a hug, Humbug the Careers Cat is planning to be at SOAS on Thu 1 March for Mental Health & Wellbeing day.
Philippa Hewett, Head of Careers

Interviews For the Uninitiated


Got an interview? Well done! But the hard work isn’t over. In fact it’s just beginning. Let’s
take it step by step…

What’s the set up?

Employers can take their pick from the traditional face to face scenario a phone or Skype call, a video question and answer session. If all interviews are somewhat disconcerting, the video version is reckoned by many students to be the most unsettling of all. It involves no human contact whatsoever, just a series of questions which have to be prepared and answered in a set time frame. However unnerving it might be for candidates, the video process is quicker and slicker for employers to deal with, so it’s here to stay.

What will you be asked?

Whatever the type of interview it, questions fall into a few discrete groups. You want those categories? They are…

  • Motivational: your reasons for applying
  • Biographical: your academic and personal experience
  • Skills and strengths: what is unique about you?
  • Competency: do you meet the criteria necessary to be successful?

So, broadly speaking you will be asked why you want to do that job with that organisation, what benefits (skills, experience) you can bring, whether you are a fit for their brand, values, working culture and how much they will have to invest in you. Not that they’ll put it quite like that of course, but they are really probing how committed and knowledgeable you are, and hence how much it will cost to train you. Your job is to reassure them on all counts.

How do you prepare?

From your perspective, it may be better not to dwell so much on which questions will be posed but rather on what you want to tell them. In other words, after dealing with each initial question as it comes (“I want to work here because…”) promote your suitability for the post in the follow through. (“I can offer the company x, y, z”). But all your answers must be backed up with detailed evidence. So have up your capacious sleeve an example that verifies what you are saying otherwise it becomes a meaningless assertion. In other words, rather than just stating that you have worked in numerous different teams, give them chapter and verse on a time when you have (successfully) participated in a team activity.

Above all, know your skills and strengths inside out, back to front and upside down!

Anything else?

Plenty, but it can be summed up by “Do your homework”. Arm yourself with information and deploy it strategically.

Go beyond the organisation’s website – look at news articles, company reports, their Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn pages. Be ready to make objective and original comments on these, if required.

More than this, know their competitors. What are they up to? What can “your” firm do to
complement or trump their activities? Understand the sector in which they operate. What’s happening there? How do current political and social issues impact on this?

Above all, show what you know!

Good luck and remember that if you have a interview secured to make use of SOAS Careers’ Practice Interview service, where a careers consultant will prepare questions specific to the sector, employer and job you have applied for so that you are prepared for the real thing. Just email careers@soas.ac.uk to get booked in.

Gill Sharp, Senior Careers Consultant

Insight From Your Fellow Student: From SOAS to Dakar, or, the NGO Internship Route

As part of our Student Insight blog series, Madeleine Race, MSc Violence, Conflict and Development (2016-7), talks about her move from London to Dakar, Senegal for an internship with community development NGO, Tostan.


After two years working in the UK charity sector, and an eye-opening three months volunteering in sustainable business development in Uganda, my desire to pursue a more international-facing career with a socially-oriented goal drove me to apply for a development studies Masters. Suffice to say, an intense year studying ‘Violence, Conflict and Development’ at SOAS both satisfied and encouraged my curiosity to know more about the world which turns around us.

Of course, after a year of poring over dusty textbooks (read: napping in the Senate House library) and countless conversations putting the world to rights over a Blue Moon in the JCR, mine and my classmates’ discussions started to turn towards the world of work. Having spent the year tearing apart the complexes and corruptions of the ‘Development system’, how on earth were we going to come to terms with finding a job in it?

It was during one of these conversations that a good friend suggested Tostan, a human rights-focussed NGO which has been working to empower African communities to fulfil their own visions for sustainable and relevant development since the 1990s. Tostan – which means ‘breakthrough’ in Wolof, the primary language of Senegal – works alongside rural communities to equip them with basic knowledge of their human rights and responsibilities, and the leadership skills needed to make positive change. The organisation is especially well-known for sparking incredible social change across the West African region through the movement to abandon harmful traditional practices such as Female Genital Cutting and child marriage.

How lucky I felt to see a job post on their website at the end of the exam period: I applied straight away! I am now halfway through a six-month internship in the Grants Department in Dakar, and learning every day about the realities (good and bad) of work in an NGO headquarters and life as an ‘expat’ in Senegal. Settling in to life here has been at once challenging, invigorating and astonishing. Although there is plenty to critique about the Development sector’s reliance on underpaid graduate labour, the reality is that internships can be excellent gateways and I am looking forward with optimism to seeing where this one takes me. My key advice to anyone considering the internship route, however, is to first reflect and be realistic: Can you afford to do it? City life is expensive the world over. Will it challenge you enough? If you already have some work experience, then you could apply for posts with more responsibility. Will it lead to further opportunities? Smaller organisations can often be more flexible at the end of your contract than larger structures like the UN.

It is important to note that I wouldn’t have discovered this opportunity if it hadn’t been for that one recommendation from a friend, or the support of the SOAS Careers Service. One of the best things SOAS has left me with is a worldwide network of incredibly dedicated and dynamic peers – so my top tip would be to listen to them, take their advice, share your own, and you never know what a small conversation might lead to. The Careers Service helped me to do a practice interview and even specifically sought out a Francophone team member to run through questions in French. This practice interview gave me the small but vital confidence boost I needed to do well in the real thing. Having been out of the professional mind-set for a year, the Careers Service’s tips helped set me on track to think and behave professionally and confidently in the interview. Go and see them today – it’s the perfect excuse to get out of that library!

Madeleine Race

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.

Please also note that SOAS Careers is committed to only advertising paid internships positions, in line with National Minimum Wage regulations. Further information and positions are available here.  

#MondayMotivation: The Week You Explore the Middle East


Keen to make your way to the Middle East after you graduate? Come & hear from 4 great SOAS alums who are all making a real difference at the Global Careers Series Middle East panel event taking place this Thursday 8 Feb at 6pm in the Cloisters, Senate House.

Come and get involved with all the other awesome events happening across the week too. All the talks take place in the Careers Seminar Room (SL62, Paul Webley Wing):

Tue 6 Feb, 12 – 1pm: Top Tips: Applications: BOOK NOW

Wed 7 Feb, 2 – 3pm: National Speaking Academy: How to Change the World Through Public Speaking: BOOK NOW

Thu 8 Feb, 12 – 1pm: Top Tips: Career Planning: BOOK NOW

Alexis Fromageot


How To: Creative Careers


Creative careers. A neat catch-all but what does it mean? Your blogger’s definition (you may have another) would be a job cluster that includes making, creating, performing – and supporting same as maybe a director, a technician, an administrator. Everything from music to mime, design to dance, rock to writing, stand-up to stage management. At times this may even spill over into areas such as media and heritage. Which gives you a lot of possibilities, so how do you get started?

As a student it’s imperative to put your head above the parapet and get noticed. Say what? Involvement in student drama, selling artwork on a stall, doing gigs in small (not to say obscure) venues, entering competitions, taking extra courses… you see where I’m going with this. All of which means spending time while not necessarily earning money. But although activities like these many not necessarily swell your bank balance, they lend credibility to your CV, and help you to get up and networking with those who could offer you paid work in the future. And networking is an essential here, not an optional extra.

After university? A step into the unknown in most cases. Your first decision: will your creativity support you or must you support your creativity? A.k.a. can you earn enough as a creative to live “comfortably” (whatever that means to you) or do you need a day job to fund your artistic leanings?

Of course, there’s always the traditional waiting at tables while starving in a garret. Great if that’s your choice, less alluring if it’s forced on you by fate. If you need a regular role, even on a temporary basis, you could either:

a) scrabble for a foothold in the sector where you want to forge a career –for instance many staff that you see in a theatre, from box office to bar, will be “resting” actors and stage crew.


b) get qualifications / training in an area that will give you flexibility to be creative as and when work or commissions come up.

Some examples

> Lew: playwright and director, works in a bookshop part-time

> Alice: actor, language graduate, freelance translator

> Mike: writer, London guide

> Roly: would-be film-maker, tutors A level students

> Ellie: stage manager and supply teacher.

And if you don’t want to live with uncertainty and need a steady wage and a defined job? Again you have options:

  • Put the creativity on the back burner, maybe as a lucrative use of your spare time,(Rose, fine artist, and full-time events manager for upmarket pub chain) or perhaps as something to return to once when you have made your millions ( Jatinder, musician turned banker; Nina, sculptor and qualified solicitor) or
  • Take 9- 5 employment in a creative field as, for instance, an arts administrator or community arts officer.

Where to look for any or all of these opportunities? Try our own dear

not to mention

You have choices. Make them and take them.

Gill Sharp, Senior Careers Consultant

#MondayMotivation: Getting Creative With Your Career


Embrace your creativity this week and swing by the Careers Zone to explore how you can get started with a life in the creative sector. Come and hear from SOAS-based Why Comics? this Thursday at 2pm in SL62 and hear their first-hand tales of a career in the creative industries.

Hear from Emily Oliver about Why Comics, her career path and how she got into a creative industry, alongside any tips for students wanting to follow the same path!

Emily has a track record of launching and scaling high impact social and creative initiatives – aiming to shape our critical systems more equitably, deepen public discourse, and creatively spark critical awareness. Her experience ranges from launching peoplefund.it (which become the UK’s largest crowdfunding platform, Crowdfunder), to establishing the arts service for the London Borough of Newham. She has worked at the Arts Council of England, in socially engaged media, and is currently the Managing Director of PositiveNegatives – an enterprise incubated at SOAS.

Come and get involved with all the other inspiring talks happening this week too. All our events take place in the Careers Seminar Room (SL62, Paul Webley Wing):

Tue 30 Jan, 12 – 1pm: Top Tips: Interviews & Assessment Centres: BOOK NOW

Thu 1 Feb, 12 – 1pm: Top Tips: Using Social Media to Get a Job: BOOK NOW

Alexis Fromageot