Students in the School of Social Science are very active in seeking out opportunities for internships, graduate schemes and other employment options post-degree.
Click on the names to read more about some of their experiences during and after their degrees at the University of Aberdeen.
- Sophia Burnaasefi
I carried out a 4 months internship with the Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in London at the Ambassadors office of the Embassy. My duties involved monitoring and conducting research on Afghan-UK relations, organising state visits and social events, assisting correspondences of the diplomats, editing and drafting talking points for the ambassadors speeches. I particularly enjoyed working in such a multicultural team, the exposure to the diplomatic field, and being part of important projects and conferences. These allowed me to put my knowledge into practise which was very rewarding. I am lucky enough to be continuing my internship at the embassy this summer as well, and I am excited to learn and experience more!
- Struan Charters
I studied for an MA (Hons) in Politics and International Relations at the University of Aberdeen from 2009 to 2013.
Whilst at Aberdeen I received a thorough education of core concepts in political and international relations by experts and high profile commentators in the field. This brought to life current events such as the Scottish, UK and US elections, as well as the Arab Spring. I developed a keen interest in international conflict; I studied the Kashmir conflict in detail and received the Janet McMurtrie Prize for the best essay in International Relations with a particular focus on a developing country. Since my degree a highlight was a trip to Jaipur for a friend’s wedding where I also visited Kashmir. I have also volunteered at a refugee camp in Greece, seeing first-hand some of the issues discussed in classes.
Whilst at Aberdeen I really enjoyed getting involved with and being on the committee of the University’s Politics and International Relations Society, which was associated with, but independent to my degree. Memorable events included trips to Edinburgh, London, Berlin and The Hague with visits to associated political institutions.
Aberdeen also instilled in me a keen interest in public policy, and I subsequently completed an MSc (Research) in Public Policy and Administration at the London School of Economics and Political Science. I stayed in London after my postgraduate degree, working in a public sector consultancy role. I’ve also worked back home in the Highlands in a policy role in the Highland Council, as an adviser in a Citizens Advice Bureau, and as a constituency assistant with the Scottish Parliament.
I am currently based in Dublin, having previously managed a community complex in Donegal. I work in the Investment Projects and Programmes Office, part of the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform within the Irish Civil Service. The IPPO is tasked with overseeing national infrastructure policy. My role includes work around reporting, analysing and communicating infrastructure delivery across government, tracking the progress of projects and programmes under the National Development Plan. My key duties have included the co-ordination and writing of high-level reports, government level briefing documents as well as the development of innovative, citizen focused tools such as a tracker and interactive map documenting all major projects and programmes across the country.
Aberdeen has provided a very strong foundation both inside and outside of lecture halls and the skills for me to embark on a career focused on public service, with a breadth of experiences and skills that I continue to develop.
- Daniel Eden
Over the course of 5 years, I completed two degrees at the University of Aberdeen - an MA in Politics & International Relations and an MSc in Strategic Studies and Management.
After graduating from my Master's, I applied to Santander's graduate scheme, and I have been with the company for nearly 6 months.
In that time, I have been drawing heavily on the skills and lessons that I learned at the University of Aberdeen. My degrees were largely
based in the School of Social Science, and they have provided me with a skill set useful in any environment. At the end of the day, the strength of social science degrees lies in the fact that they develop one's critical thinking and the ability to form and present articulate arguments. As one scholar puts it, subjects like these teach people to read, think, and write.
By researching and understanding the facts, we can identify challenges and opportunities, and chart a viable way forward. Writing our ideas down challenges us to put our thoughts into words and allows us present a persuasive case. This is a skill that allows one to bring people together and make everyone work towards a common purpose. Being able to do that is incredibly valuable both in business and in politics. That is why social science degrees are so versatile and open up so many doors.
At Santander, I have been involved in a number of projects. The aims of our projects vary but one thing always stays the same - if you are implementing change, you have to get the people on board. It can be the most amazing idea in theory, but if the people on the ground don't embrace it, it will never work. That is why it has been so crucial to be able to articulate my ideas clearly and succinctly, and why my degrees have proven so useful.
- Luisa Freutel
Last summer I did a three-month unpaid internship at the Mexican Council on Foreign Relations (COMEXI) in Mexico City. COMEXI is an NGO that focusses on the analysis, study, and debate of major global trends and their impact on Mexico. I was working in the Media and Communication department, which gave me a perfect insight into social media work and political communication. My main task was to promote COMEXI on all their social media channels. Therefore, I created infographics, videos, and posts. Furthermore, I helped to organize events, to analyze most recent news, to do political research, and to implement different (media) strategies. My favourite part of my internship has been the events. Once we were invited to have a debate with the Turkish ambassador in his residence. Another time we organized an event in cooperation with McKinsey and Co. about Cybersecurity. My time in Mexico has been very beneficial to me. Not just because I’ve met amazing people, also because I figured out, that I’m a creative person and that later I would like to work in something political communication-related.
- Arthur Vincent
Arthur Vincent is an MA in Anthropology & International Relations graduate from 2010. He currently resides in Aubervilliers, France and founded a non-profit which teaches languages through sport to athletes from underserved areas. Read an interview transcript with Arthur Vincent here. View Arthur's alumni relations promotional poster here.
- Oscar Voss
Oscar Voss had the unique opportunity to intern with the communications team at the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) in Berlin. In addition to being part of the team responsible for ECFR’s social media presence, Oscar wrote the article "Chernobyl on ice: Russia’s new floating nuclear plant", accessible here.
Oscar is grateful for the academic opportunities at the University of Aberdeen and its dedicated staff. He highly recommends students interested in European politics to take Dr Tabur's third-year politics course "The EU: Contemporary Challenges". Whereas he had previously held a general interest in politics, the course's academic rigour cultivated his specific interest in European politics.
"Coming to university I had a broad and general interest in politics. Your course changed my outlook on things and I now know that that my career after studying will be dealing with European related issues." - Oscar Voss
- James Withers
A SOCIABLE SUCCESS STORY - ALUMNI PROFILE: JAMES WITHERS
James Withers says his time at the University was phenomenal and four of the best years of his life. “The one word that sums up my time at Aberdeen is social. I played rugby for the University and for Aberdeenshire and I was very aware that my course allowed me to enjoy all aspects of University life to the full.”
Despite having unconditional offers from Edinburgh and St Andrews, James’ visit to Aberdeen on a glorious sunny day, when Kings College looked so inviting, and the students were all enjoying themselves lounging on the grass, sealed his choice of Aberdeen as the University for him. James has definitely been the right person in the right place at the right time as far as his career is concerned. He graduated in 1999, (MA Politics), just as the Scottish Parliament was established, and joined the National Farmers’ Union for Scotland (NFUS) graduate trainee scheme as their Parliamentary Adviser. “It didn’t matter to NFUS that up until that point I’d never been on a farm, as they of course have a large number of farmers to talk to. What they didn’t have was any idea how to engage with the new Parliament, and of course, neither did anyone else! I was able to bring a very fresh (aged 22) pair of eyes to the way NFUS engaged with a range of audiences and will always be grateful for the fantastic opportunity and support they gave me.” Undertaking a number of roles for the NFUS, James was appointed Deputy Chief Executive in November 2005 and Chief Executive in 2008. During his time at NFUS, James represented the organisation at round table discussions about establishing an overarching body, supported by the Scottish Government, that would take the lead on the economic development of the food and drink industry. This body, subsequently known as Scotland Food and Drink, was born in 2007. When the post of Chief Executive became vacant in 2011, James was again in the ideal place to take it on. “I was ready for a change, having been at NFUS for 11 years, and I wanted to get beyond the farm gate. I also knew all the key players in the development of Scotland Food and Drink.”
“The most amazing thing about Scotland Food and Drink is that it exists at all! To get such a range of organisations round the table and working in partnership with Government to grow the sector had never been achieved before. Now, with a small backroom staff of 20, we have 330 member companies, partnerships with all the right organisations, and are well on our way to achieving that ambitious target of growing the industry to a value of £12.5 billion by 2017. The opportunities for Scottish food and drink in markets such as India, China and the Far East is enormous. We want to follow the whisky industry model – we are offering a high quality product, sustainably produced.
“The big challenge for our food producers is going to be how to produce more, with less inputs. Scotland is never going to be a low cost producer. For the home market we need to change the view of some people that ‘best value’ equals ‘cheapest’ and help them to think that ‘best value’ can also mean ‘produced to highest standards of welfare and lowest environmental footprint.”
When Scotland Food and Drink was established it was clear that there just wasn’t enough research and development taking place to support the innovation that would drive the economic development of the sector. “Among the big trends in the industry are sustainability, innovation in healthier foods, and good quality convenient food. The University’s Rowett Institute of Nutrition and Research, which has a 100 year track record in nutrition research, is doing a great job in contributing to these areas and it is clear to me that the need for the type of research carried out by the Rowett is probably greater now than at any other time.” If you want to find out more about the food and drink industry in Scotland, and about James in particular, then follow him on Twitter. An enthusiastic and entertaining tweeter, James manages to blend some more personal tweets with his role at SFD, in a way that perhaps few without his background and experience would be able to do. “I find that Twitter is simply the most time efficient social media platform. I was originally really sceptical of it, but now I can’t remember the last time I picked-up on a major news story anywhere other than on Twitter. Of course, it can attract the loony fringe, and I know that there are some topics which if I tweet about will immediately produce a spat of replies, but by and large Twitter excels at the getting, and communicating of news.”
Finally, James has a message for academics wanting to engage with the policy and political audiences: “You really need to think about the clarity of your message – keep it short and sharp. Politicians everywhere are simply drowning in information. Academics are very good at churning out loads of information such that their message gets lost, and they aren’t always clear what they want from their MSP either.”
View the full alumni relations poster here.