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Government and Policy week is coming…

By UCL Careers, on 3 November 2015

In its second year running, the UCL Careers Government and Policy Themed Week’ is approaching! Below you will find a run down of the range of events organised to inspire and engage those who are interested in a career within the public sector, as well as those who are yet undecided.  This is your chance to meet with organisations in this sector – to hear from and network with a range of guests from recent graduates to senior officials.

The events below are open to students and recent graduates from all degree disciplines and all of the events below are now bookable through your ‘My UCL Careers’ account.

Careers that Make a Difference: Leadership Roles
Monday 16th November | 12 noon – 1pm

Come and meet an exciting range of organisations deliver a panel and Q&A on their leadership roles in the public sector.

Confirmed speakers so far:

  • NHS Graduate Management Training Scheme
  • National Graduate Development Programme
  • Think Ahead

Careers at the Heart of Government

Tuesday 17th November | 5.30pm – 6.30pm

Hear from a panel of speakers working at the heart of government, in departments like The Treasury & GORS.  Learn about alternative, non-Fast Stream, career paths into government roles.

Case-study Workshop: The Civil Service Social Change Challenge

Wednesday 18th November | 2pm-3.30pm

Are you looking for the opportunity to excel as a future leader, the chance to improve the country and to be tested intellectually?

Find out first-hand what it’s like to tackle the biggest issues of today in this interactive policy workshop.

Influencing Policy

Thursday 19th November | 12 noon – 1pm

Chaired by the editor of w4mp jobs, at this event you will hear from representatives of some of the leading shapers of public policy.

Confirmed speakers so far:

  • Chatham House
  • Counterpoint
  • Action Aid

*The events are on a first come first serve basis so please book early to guarantee a place and to see room details.*

Events are now bookable through ‘My UCL Careers’

Head of Politics Economics and Communications Group in the British Embassy: an inside view

By UCL Careers, on 6 November 2014

Ahead of our Government and Policy week James Kariuki writes his insider’s view on what it’s like to be the Head of Politics Economics and Communications Group in the British Embassy in Washington.

“There’s some folks who just really dislike me because they don’t like the idea of a black President… the flip side of is there are some folks who really like me and give me the benefit of the doubt precisely because I’m a black President”. Not for the first time, an Obama quote really struck a chord.

James Kariuki
As a member of an ethnic minority, especially one historically perceived to be more threatening and less smart than the majority, you become aware that the colour of your skin is the first thing others see when you enter a place you are not expected. The question is whether initial surprise at your difference turns into lasting disadvantage, or whether you are able to overcome it and even convert it into opportunity.

Growing up in rural Surrey in the 70s and 80s, with an absent Kenyan father and a single white mother, the disadvantages were pretty evident. My brother and I were the only black kids in a private school of a thousand students, and certainly two of the poorest. Suspicious eyes were everywhere – from shopkeepers to village policemen; from the parents of early girlfriends to the skinheads on Brighton’s football terraces. Cambridge was hardly more diverse. But over time, friends and teachers became colour-blind. Opportunities revealed themselves: Marxist professors who wanted to support “my struggle”; rugby coaches who persevered because they believed I must be quicker than I really was; kids who thought I had some unique insight into jazz or hip-hop (even if I was more into The Smiths and The Stone Roses).

What’s this got to do with an FCO career? Well, when you’ve spent the first 20 years of life navigating your own difference, diplomacy and conflict prevention come naturally. Within your own organisation – like others who are “different” or “underrepresented” because of their gender, sexuality, or socio-economic background – you tread carefully at first, keep your head down a bit, work on getting by on merit. You occasionally have moments of self-doubt; or hold back from challenging authority for fear of standing out. But over time you become accepted into the mainstream, your difference fades, your voice and authority grows.

James Kariuki
You face a whole new layer of complexity when you go abroad to represent your country. Your authority as a British diplomat is in doubt – many of us have had the tragi-comic experience of being taken for the driver or the security guard; or being challenged at the entrance to private clubs reserved for elites and expats.
But you find ways to pivot circumstances to your advantage. In Iraq, while my fellow Westerners on the weapons inspection team were treated as occupiers, I passed easily through downtown Baghdad. In Venezuela, I bonded with an anti-Colonialist, mixed-race Presidential candidate, Hugo Chavez, who affectionately called me “el negro ingles”. In New York, my credibility as the EU’s negotiator on development issues was enhanced by my own colour and funny name (my G77 counterpart was a burly, white South African). In the US, being part of a diverse UK and local workforce helps me and colleagues in our mission to understand, engage and influence America. For example, I’ve recently been promoting Steve McQueen’s project to take 12 Years a Slave to American schools, and have connected the British Director to President Obama’s initiative to build self-confidence and create opportunity for young, black Americans.

For most of my 20 years in the FCO, I believed that the best thing I could do for other members of minority groups was to demonstrate that I was at least as good as any member of the majority in the fantastic series of jobs I occupied. I still believe that to be the case. But I’ve also realised that I can use my relative success to support, encourage and inspire those from other underrepresented groups overcome the self-doubt and unconscious bias that sometimes holds them back from fulfilling their potential.

Thanks to the leadership in the FCO, our diversity agenda has real momentum. If through this effort we can break down institutional and cultural barriers to progress we can make our organisation not just a fairer one, but a much stronger one.”

To find out more information about the UCL Careers Government and Policy week, visit: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/careers/events/getinto/governmentandpolicy

What is a Diplomat? : Nikesh Mehta, UCL Alumni

By UCL Careers, on 4 November 2014

Ahead of Government and Policy week,  Nikesh Mehta, Counsellor (Foreign Policy and Security) at the British High Commission in Malaysia, gives us his insider’s view on what a Diplomat does.

“What is a Diplomat? This was the question that my family and friends asked me when I told them that I was going to be joining the Foreign Office. It’s surprisingly difficult to answer.

Nikesh Mehta
The Oxford English Dictionary describes diplomacy as “…the profession, activity, or skill of managing international relations” and a Diplomat as someone who “…typically represents a country abroad”. The famous American travel writer, Caskie Stinnett, once said: “A diplomat is a person who can tell you to go to hell in such a way that you actually look forward to the trip.”

For me, a Diplomat is someone who enjoys building relationships and understanding cultures; someone who is adept at gathering information and influencing decision-makers; and someone who takes pride in promoting national interests and keeping people safe.
I joined the Foreign Office because I wanted to make a difference in countries around the world and to promote our interests and values. I have been very fortunate during my career to have had some incredible experiences and I would like to tell you about them in the hope that you might also consider applying to the Diplomatic Service.

After completing a Masters in Chemistry at UCL, I spent three years working as a teacher in rural Japan. My first experience of culture shock was trying to explain why I was vegetarian to a group of sceptical Japanese students. I really enjoyed the opportunity to be an ‘ambassador’ for the UK and this, together with a long-standing interest in international affairs, prompted me to apply to the Foreign Office.

I joined the Foreign Office Fast Stream in 2002 and spent a year on the NATO desk in London. I then volunteered to serve in the Coalition Provisional Authority as the Political Officer for southern Iraq based in Basrah. Being in Iraq just after the war was an amazing yet humbling experience.

Flying on a Chinook into Basrah
After Iraq, I was posted to Uganda for three years. This posting had huge significance for my family as my mother had been expelled from the country by Idi Amin’s forces in 1972.

Nikesh MehtaI was responsible for reporting on the conflict with the Lord’s Resistance Army, the ensuing humanitarian crisis, and the subsequent peace talks in Juba. At times, particularly in 2004, the situation was awful with almost 2 million people living in Internally Displaced Persons camps. But the experience of working with these communities was also hugely rewarding and by 2007, many people were able to return to some form of normality.

Interviewing a former LRA victim in an IDP Camp
There were some particularly surreal moments during my time in Uganda not least having dinner with Gillian Anderson during the filming of The Last King of Scotland. It was strange to meet her in person after spending several years staring at her poster on my bedroom wall…

Nikesh MehtaAfter Uganda, I returned to London and spent four years working on counter-terrorism issues. I was involved in a number of high-profile kidnap cases involving British nationals and got to see first-hand the efforts that our government makes to keep our nationals safe.

For the last two years, I have been posted to the British High Commission in Malaysia with responsibility for foreign policy, security and press issues. This was my dream posting because of the breadth of opportunities: One day, I could be lobbying for Malaysian support on a resolution in the UN and the next, I could be preparing an event to promote UK education.

The highlight of my posting so far has been the Royal Visit of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to celebrate The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. I was tasked with overseeing the preparations for their three-day visit and then accompanying them throughout. Our programme took them 2,000 miles across Malaysia from a Mosque in central Kuala Lumpur to the rainforest canopy in Borneo. The impact that the couple had on our relationship with Malaysia and the Malaysian people was incredible. In conjunction with the visit, the Malaysian Government announced an expansion of the network of protected forests in Borneo to an area larger than that of greater London. And the Duke and Duchess’s visit to Hospis Malaysia helped to kick-start Malaysia’s national paediatric palliative care programme, which will revolutionise the support given to young people suffering from life-limiting illnesses.

I want to end by saying that the Foreign Office would really welcome more diverse applications. It is hugely important for the Foreign Office to be a true reflection of modern Britain. People around the world admire us for our diversity, and our deep understanding of cultures and languages gives us an unparalleled advantage. I also think it helps to build cohesion within communities in the UK if people can see that there are diverse individuals who are proud to be British and proud to represent Britain on the global stage.”

To find out more about UCL Careers Government and Policy week, visit: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/careers/events/getinto/governmentandpolicy and to read more from Nikesh, visit: Blogs.fco.gov.uk/nikeshmehta

Government and Policy week starts next week….

By UCL Careers, on 3 November 2014

UCL Careers is introducing a brand new Themed Week this year on Government and Policy. If you are interested in careers in the public sector and would like to meet organisations who inspire and make a difference, then this is the week for you. The events below are open to students and GradClub members from all degree disciplines and all of the events below are now bookable through your ‘My UCL Careers’ account.

Careers that make a difference – leadership roles in the public sector

Monday, 10th November, from 12:45pm-2pm

Come and meet an exciting range of organisations deliver a panel and Q&A on their leadership roles in the public sector. The NHS Graduate Programme, National Graduate Leadership Programme, and more are providing speakers to share their inspirational perspectives on careers that make a difference…

A career at the heart of Government: Careers in HM Treasury

Tuesday, 11th November, from 5:30pm-7pm

The Deputy Director of the RBS, Lloyds, Legacy Assets and Analytical team will deliver a presentation providing insight into the UK’s economic and finance ministry, controlling public spending and setting direction for economic policy at home whilst maintaining an international interest. This is followed by a Q&A session with policy officials –a chance for UCL students to pose questions and network.

Influencing Policy: Think Tanks Panel and Q&A

Thursday, 13th November, from 12pm-2pm

At this event you will hear from representatives of some of the leading shapers of public policy, including Respublica and Counterpoint, and will have a chance to ask questions and engage in networking with the panelists to gain real insight into what working in the think tank is really like.

You will gain insight from expert panels and also have the chance to ask questions about anything you’d like to know about the industry.

*The events are on a first come first serve basis so please book early to guarantee a place and to see room details.*

Events are now bookable through ‘My UCL Careers’

How to secure a job in a Small/Medium Sized Enterprise : Case Studies

By UCL Careers, on 28 March 2014

Want to get a job in a SME but have no idea where to start? We collected a few different case studies of how students at UCL have got into SMEs.

Case study 1

Aim: Secure Job in the Charity Sector

Starting point: Experience in management and IT and also an MA in Human Rights at UCL

Method used to secure a job in an SME:

  • Studied the sector in detail – further knowledge was acquired
  • Maximised personal networking and contacts
  • Gained further knowledge, contacts were used to facilitate informative industry interviews
  • Focused job search further by understanding the sector
  • Applied to positions that needs core strengths in order to get an interview
  • Structured the applications on what the employer wants and highlighting strengths
  • Applied to jobs

Result: Succeeded in securing a job in the charity sector


Case study 2

Aim: Secure Electrical and Electronic related job

Starting Point: MSc in Electrical and Electronics Engineering in the UK and previous work in home country

Method used to secure a job in an SME:

  • Identified problems with previous application by getting advice from career consultants
  • Focused job search for vacancies that were in-line with my strengths i.e. languages and understanding home country culture
  • Sent speculative applications to employers that would be interested in my strengths
  • Applied to short term and long term internships
  • Spent additional time on understanding the job description and person specifications in order to apply to  the right jobs
  • Kept on applying

Result: Secured an internship with a company that is expanding in my home country and the potential of a job in the future


Case Study 3

Aim: Secure job in security, policy in Think tanks, NGOs or government body

Starting point: MA in Politics, Security and Integration

Method used to secure a job in an SME:

  • Dedicated additional effort as was required by the industry and the employers observation and research showed that low number of  advertised jobs were available
  • Researched related websites to get the news about the industry and find out the names of relevant employers
  • Strengthened personal support network to keep up job hunting momentum – long process
  • Cancelled plans to travel and focused on job hunt – times management
  • Managed time to ensure priorities
  • Attended job fairs organised by the career service to expand possibilities
  • Made new contacts and strengthened existing contacts
  • Applied for internships and jobs related to my strength and skills

Result: Found an internship in-line with my strength first and carried on applying then found exactly the right job overseas


Case Study 4

Aim: Graduate job in computer software

Starting Point: MEng in Electrical and Electronic Engineering

Method used to secure a job in an SME:

  • Went  to  a few niche job fairs for entrepreneurial companies that required specialist skills and expertise
  • Made new contacts by networking, LinkedIn
  • Discussed options with careers consultants
  • Applied to relevant internships and jobs constantly

Result: Secured a job with an application developer

For further help with getting work with an SME, pop in to see us at UCL Careers or sign up to UCL Talent Bank.