Year graduated from SOAS
MA African Studies
Current job title and name of organisation
Zanabazar Museum of Fine Arts (Mongolia) - English Language Guide/Translator/ Researcher
What do you like about what you do? Please include the aspects of your work that current SOAS students might be interested in.
I most enjoy the challenge working with colleagues with a very different way of thinking. Besides, they hardly speak English so I am forced to use Mongolian. The Museum's collection is really unique, one slice of it is strongly related to my dissertation topic. It is fabulous to be so close to these objects you would not find anywhere in Europe. I work on the Museum's catalogue which requires not only language skills but a deep knowledge of their collection, its background, history and customs. I really enjoy that I can work with exactly what my research topic is. This is a unique work experience that would be tough to get in Europe.
How has your time at SOAS helped you succeed in this role? You may also wish to include other experiences that have helped.
SOAS gave me the tools and confidence to be able to approach the museum and sell myself. Although I did African Studies at SOAS, the research, writing and life skills I gained during the course was essential in securing this position. I have master's degrees in Tibetan and Mongolian studies as well, so the theoretical knowledge I have about these cultures came from a different university, but the practical knowledge is definitely due to my time at SOAS.
Can you give current students any tips on getting into this kind of work? Please include any job hunting, application or interview tips that you found useful.
You have to be able to leave your comfort zone if you decide to come to a place like Mongolia. When here, you must be open minded and be really resourceful. In my case the SOAS Alumni Office was a huge help. They put me into contact with someone in Ulan Bator who helped me a lot to be able to reach the Museum. Emailing doesn't always work when you try to find a job from the other end of the World. Better to find a way to get your CV in a printed form directly to the director's hands. It can be true to any company. For this job I didn't attend an interview, I had a chat online with the museum's director and met her once I have arrived to Ulan Bator. It means that before departure I didn't know exactly what they expect from me, I knew nothing about my salary, but I knew that this is an exceptional opportunity so I need to take a risk. I have been here for a month now, I study the language at uni, I work for the museum and will start doing my field work as well for my PhD dissertation. I am not bored to the least extent.