Jason Forbus recounts his interesting career journey from working for the US Embassy in Rome, right after leaving Aberdeen in 2011, to his current role as a Staff Advocacy Officer for the United Nations World Food Programme.
Why did you choose to study at Aberdeen?
I chose Aberdeen for its strong qualitative approach to sociology, solid scientific reputation and large international community.
Why did you choose your particular course?
The way we think of and experience the world has dramatically changed over the past century. Globalisation is an economic and sociocultural phenomenon of vast proportions that has brought people from different parts of the world together. Understanding the sociological implications of the phenomenon is very much relevant for interpreting current trends and events. The course equipped me with the necessary tools for analysing and when necessary deconstructing what I see and experience, both key resources in nowadays highly mobile and fluid society.
What did you most enjoy about your time at Aberdeen?
Too many to recount! Well, one in particular one of my flatmates in Burnett House was from China. During the first two months, we used to hang out quite often cook Italian or Chinese food, play ping pong, badminton, etc. It all changed when he met a girl, whom was to become his wife. The guy literally fell off the face of the world! Eventually, when we completed our courses and it was time to go back home, he presented me with a letter and a present, apologising for not being around as much as he would have liked to, but he just loved his girlfriend so much. The letter was as unnecessary as it was nice and thoughtful. To this day, we remain good friends, and he is one of the many wonderful people from all paths of life that I had the opportunity to meet in Aberdeen.
If you were involved in any clubs and societies as a student, what did you enjoy most about them and what benefit do you think they have for students?
I was a member of the Creative Writing and the Lairig Mountaineering Clubs. Both allowed me to get to know local students better, practice my creative writing, reading in front of a public, listening to freshly written poems and short stories, and of course visit beautiful Scottish countryside and mountains.
What advice would you give to prospective students to help them make the most of their time at the University of Aberdeen?
Come with an open mind, and let the world in!
What was the title of your first job after graduating from Aberdeen and what did your first role involve?
Special Services Specialist at the US Embassy in Italy. My role involved carrying out qualitative research regarding possible security threats for American citizens visiting or residing in Italy.
What is your current job title and what is your current role?
Staff Advocacy Officer at the United Nations World Food Programme.
Please briefly describe the journey from your first job after graduating to where you are now.
After graduating, I knew I wanted to work for an international organization. After some interviews, I was able to secure a temporary assignment with the US Embassy to Italy. The job allowed me to build a professional profile, thanks to which I later worked for the US Embassy to the UK and eventually joined the UN.
Was your degree at Aberdeen essential for getting to where you are now? If so, in what way?
Absolutely yes, it provided me with necessary skills to begin my career as a recognised professional in the field of international relations.
Please share your one top tip that you think is most important for our current students or recent graduates that will help them when starting out on their career paths.
Society is changing very fast, and with each change come new challenges. Study hard, but leave time for other experiences and relationships. Never lose interest or give things for granted: there is always a novel side to things that you had not yet explored.