Lisa Vine, MA Politics alumna

Lisa Vine

Please tell us a bit about yourself.

I spent a wonderful year at the University of Leeds in 2010-2011. Since then I have worked as a Researcher for an MEP and as a Parliamentary Researcher for an MP in Westminster. I always knew that I wanted to branch out into the Third Sector and went on to work for both a national and a regional charity working in Policy and Public Affairs.

However, it was in 2015 that I applied for and was offered my dream role and to this day it is the best job I have ever had. I was Project Lead for the Young Transgender Centre of Excellence (YTCE), a BBC Children in Need supported project based at a local charity, the Leicester LGBT Centre.

It was through this role that I was able to further develop in terms of skills and confidence. It was a fantastic mix of strategy, advocacy, lobbying and also frontline support and it was hugely rewarding. In fact, the young people I supported called me ‘the fairy trans mother’, I was asked to be a stakeholder for the Government’s Women and Equalities Department and I won Leicester Pride’s ‘Unsung Hero Award’.  

How would you describe your experience at the University?

Oh my goodness where do I start? My experience at the University of Leeds was better than I ever even dared hope it would be. I was so excited to be able to continue studying after completing my BSc at Loughborough University. And after having a year out before beginning my MA, I was more than ready to be back in a learning environment.

My experience transformed my academic ability, my tutors and lecturers supported me and believed in me and I achieved a Distinction – something I never thought I would do! The campus and the city have a welcoming feel, a homely feel and almost immediately I felt that I belonged.

Seven years on it sounds so nostalgic, but the most enjoyable elements for me were the debating and discussions in lectures, the beautiful campus (a mix of modern and historic buildings) and your amazing library! I was sad to leave but every time I come back somehow, I still feel like I am coming home.  

What did you think of your course?

My course was absolutely fantastic. It offered support and guidance, enabling independent and a wider breadth of thinking. The modules were both academic and practical; developing skills that would help us in the workplace e.g. report writing, press release writing etc. It definitely helped me in my chosen career as the course included a placement in Parliament. I have no doubt that this element of the course has enabled me to go on to get the jobs I have done.

How would you describe the guidance you've received?

Perfect. The guidance and help I received from staff were second to none. It was the perfect balance of support, reassurance and also empowerment. The staff at the University of Leeds helped me to become an academic writer, enabled me to feel more confident and have more self-belief which in turn was hugely empowering.

How do you think your time at Leeds has helped with since graduating?

As previously mentioned, I do not think I would have been offered the roles I have been if it wasn’t for my MA degree from the University of Leeds. My placement along with the modules that developed not only academic thinking, but also various writing skills have without question formed the basis of my working life.

My career has been predominantly either within politics or policy and public affairs for third sector organisations. My placement in Parliament for an MP helped me to learn about professional environments and helped me develop skills, especially in terms of advocacy. These skills were then applicable not only for my time as Project Lead for the YTCE but also in my current role, running my own LGBT+ Advocacy, Consultancy and Training business.

Please tell us about your current role/research. What are your plans for the future?

In October 2018 I set up my own LGBT+ Advocacy, Consultancy and Training business based in Leicestershire. It was both terribly exciting and also terrifying to resign from my previous role and start up all on my own. However, I am so pleased that I took this step and am thriving which is wonderful.

I offer LGBT+ workshops and assemblies for schools and colleges and can also offer consultancy to any school, college, public, private or third sector organisation who may need bespoke support in order to correctly support an LGBT+ person. I also offer LGBT+, gender or sexuality specific training to any organisation this is striving for LGBT+ inclusion.

What would be your top tips for current students?

I have so many top tips, so I will highlight only a few here. My first is don’t be afraid to apply for jobs you think you are under qualified for. After all, if you don’t apply you won’t be considered. If you meet most of the essential criteria and can give examples of why you meet them, especially highlighting transferrable skills, apply anyway.

An oldie but a goodie – volunteer or take up a work placement. I have been involved in recruitment many times and for me it doesn’t matter what grades you have achieved if you don’t have any experience. The experience doesn’t have to be totally applicable; which is why transferable skills are so important.

Are there any other comments you'd like to make?

I would like to publicly thank the University of Leeds for offering me a place on the course, helping me become the person I am today and for always supporting me during my time as an MA student. I am proud to be an alumna and also incredibly honoured to be an Advisory Board Member for the POLIS Department.