Before I began my degree in International Relations in 2015, I was studying Nutrition at Westminster’s Science and Technology Campus on Cavendish. I quickly realized this was not what I wanted to pursue and left this course after a few months. I then began full-time work with a recruitment company in Central London. I was still longing to study as I always knew I wanted to pursue higher education, as I enjoy studying. But I didn’t want to study a subject that I didn’t enjoy. I was then alerted to a course in International Relations at the University. Having already been at the University, I knew the campuses and location well. It was an added advantage as I knew I would enjoy studying here. I had always enjoyed keeping up with current affairs and this degree sounded perfect for me. I wish I had heard about it sooner but at sixth form, sciences and maths degrees were promoted more.
I have enjoyed every single year of my course. Lecturers are friendly, engaging and always willing to help. The modules are stimulating, and you always have a wide range of modules to choose from. I made friends quickly at Westminster as people are extremely easy to talk to. There are a wide range of people with diverse backgrounds and this is one of the greatest things about Westminster. Studying International Relations has provided me with the theoretical knowledge behind international affairs and a solid foundation for understanding them. Although I kept up with current affairs well before my degree, I am now able to argue and analyze situations by applying diverse theoretical viewpoints. I can now analyze large volumes of works by political scholars and construct an argument quickly.
I began working for an International Non-Governmental Organisation (INGO) in the summer of 2017 which was in my second year of University. The Al-Khair Foundation has field offices in over 15 countries in Asia and Africa and is part of the top 5 Muslim Charities in the UK. I saw a job advertised for a role at their call centre. This involved taking phone donations, dealing with donation requests and doing outbound calls. I then continued working for the NGO as a receptionist after the call centre role finished. In September, I began as in intern in the International Programmes Team. My role has given me first-hand knowledge of how an INGO functions, the mechanisms, and what challenges are faced on the ground. I went on to grasp the project cycle and experienced managing programmes across different thematic areas. Through liaising with strategic partners, and employees across the organization, nationally and internationally, my communication skills became further enhanced. I was also chosen to attend an international humanitarian and development conference in Brussels to represent the Al-Khair Foundation.
I have been able to apply my study to my work as I am able to analyze arguments well and have a deeper understanding of international affairs. My degree has given me the skills to organize and deploy evidence, data, and information from secondary and primary sources. This is a major part of my job role now as I am constantly sourcing information. I also have the capacity to critically analyze evidence and construct coherent arguments.
I understand the nature and significance of politics as a human activity and can now communicate effectively and fluently in speech and writing. In addition to this, I can use communication and information technology to retrieve and present information, including statistical or numerical information. I can identify, investigate, analyze, formulate and advocate solutions to problems. University has taught me how to manage my time and how to work independently.
In addition to learning all these transferable skills, I have also made friends for life at the University who have helped me through difficult times. Similarly, professors are easy to get in contact with and are always willing to help. I have been on an exchange programme to Taiwan in my third year of University which is an unforgettable experience. Professors treat you as adults and are always keen to help us. I would recommend for anyone to study International Relations at the University as it really has been an incredible experience for me. I wish I could do it all over again!
I would like to continue working in the Third Sector but would like to be based in a field office so I could fully grasp an understanding of the activities and be present with beneficiaries.
Advice to new students
Take and actively look for opportunities. My call centre role was not glamorous but allowed me to eventually get real experience in international development. The ability to speak another language is something that is greatly appreciated in this Sector. Attend employability events at University as this will expose you to different career options. Being proactive is extremely important!