- Course: MA Global Development
- Year of graduation: 2019
- Nationality: British
- Job title: Research Manager
Please tell us a bit about yourself and your background.
I studied at the University of Leeds between 2018 and 2019, and currently still live in Leeds, working in policy research and evaluation as a Research Manager. I am originally from Northampton, but studied in Madrid for my undergraduate degree before coming to Leeds.
How would you describe your experience at the University and what elements would you describe as the most enjoyable?
I thoroughly enjoyed my time at University. I’m a keen squash player, and was able to play competitively and socially for the university team throughout my time at Leeds. Since I started working post-graduation, I have not been able to continue playing because the cost of club membership and joining competitions outside the University is too high. I really enjoyed being able to combine studying and playing squash competitively. The atmosphere on campus is also something I look back on fondly.
How would you describe the help and guidance given by the staff within the School?
Staff at POLIS gave me hugely valuable guidance, without which I’m not sure I would be doing what I do currently. As an example, one of my course leaders provided me with support to develop an assignment into a journal article, which was published last year and was also referenced in national newspapers in Kenya and Uganda. Support from this member of staff was integral throughout the process of getting my research published, and this helped me demonstrate my ability to deliver impactful research to employers. I was also given hugely valuable guidance from another of my POLIS lecturers prior to my interview with my current employer.
Please tell us about your development since graduating from the university and how do you think your time at Leeds has helped with this?
In 2019 I secured a Research Assistant role in a leading social research consultancy, and in 2020 I was promoted to a more senior Research Manager role within the same organisation. In these roles, I have led and supported teams to deliver research projects for public institutions, development agencies, universities and charities in the UK, EU and internationally. I’ve delivered large-scale professional research projects across the policy areas of international development and foreign aid, health, social care, employment and education. Through this work, I’ve been able to develop valuable technical research skills that I’ve used to start a social enterprise - TipStart –that seeks to give young people in the UK access to professional networks that can offer knowledge and experience of how to access rewarding careers. I have also continued to independently research and publish articles on international coffee trading, which all started from an assignment I submitted for my Masters at Leeds.
Please tell us about your current role/research. What are your plans for the future?
I’m currently working on multi-year research projects for clients such as the Department for Education, the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the Nuffield Foundation. These projects range from assessing the effectiveness of government-funded interventions designed to support decent work and improve livelihoods, to tracking the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on young people in the UK. In the future I would like to continue doing this type of work, but gradually develop a particular specialism, i.e. focus more on a specific policy area. I’d also like to continue and expand my independent research into coffee trading, and continue to lead research and operations work for TipStart, part-time.
What would be your top tips in terms of careers advice for current students?
My top tip for current POLIS students to improve their career prospects would be to be ambitious with their research whilst at university. Dissertations and assignments do not necessarily require students to do primary research, but it would be good to do this in order to be able to reference this experience when applying for jobs. The overall grade is only part of the story, and each assignment represents an opportunity to gain experience and flesh out your CV. My advice would be to think about the practical skills employers look for at graduate level, and then work how to use university assignments to demonstrate those skills.