SOAS University of London

Seb Rumsby

I recommend any SOAS student to make the most of their unique opportunity to study a language which might not be taught anywhere else in the UK.

Year graduated from SOAS 
2011

Programme studied
 
BA Vietnamese and Development Studies

Current job title, name of organisation and country of work 
Assessment & Reconnection Officer, Broadway, UK

What do you like about what you do? 
I currently work on a government campaign called No Second Night Out, trying to get first-time rough sleepers in London back into accommodation. This job is very challenging but also rewarding, as I get to see the results as my clients are helped in a very tangible and practical way. Most SOAS students are concerned about poverty on a global scale but you don't have to travel further than Euston to find it, and I have the privilege of helping people from around the world here in London.

How has your time at SOAS helped you succeed in this role? 
Whilst my degree was not directly related to social work, studying at SOAS taught me to think in a certain way that has proved useful for my work - by thinking laterally, questioning established norms of doing things and working independently to find new solutions. This was recognised by my employers, who valued the fact that I had graduated from a prestigious university with good grades higher than the actual subject of my degree.

Can you give current students any tips on getting into this kind of work? 
If you want to get involved in social work, especially with homeless people, it's easy to get volunteering experience - there are church winter night shelters in many boroughs which always appreciate a helping hand - see www.homelesslondon.org for more details. My path into the sector was a three-day internship with GrowTH shelter (Tower Hamlets), which turned into a full-time job as project coordinator after 3 months.

If you studied languages at SOAS, what were they and what was the value in doing so? 
Studying Vietnamese at SOAS was possibly the most useful part of my degree for finding work. Whilst interning I was able to use my language skills to translate and interpret part-time, despite not having a translating qualification, because it's a rare language so there are hardly any Vietnamese interpreters around. I have the option of moving to Vietnam whenever I want, and am very confident of finding a job. I'd recommend any SOAS student to make the most of their unique opportunity to study a language which might not be taught anywhere else in the UK.