SOAS University of London

Talyn Rahman-Figueroa

SOAS opened my eyes to the importance of variety - a good knowledge of world politics, language and culture - which has made it possible for me to enter the diplomatic world and engage with people whom I know very little about.

Year graduated from SOAS
2008

Programme studied
BA Japanese and Management

Current job title and name of organisation
Director and Diplomatic Consultant, Grassroot Diplomat

What do you like about what you do? 
I've been training to be a diplomat since leaving SOAS but the job market is extremely restricted due to the current economic climate. Since completing my diplomatic training at various global governmental institutions, I decided to create Grassroot Diplomat - a diplomatic consultation agency that aims to bridge the gap between civil society and political decision-makers. This is my perfect job as it provides opportunities to network with high-level officials, travel the world, meet new people and produce result-orientated projects that non-government organisations tend to overlook. It is about making your own success. Lead, not follow.

How has your time at SOAS helped you succeed in this role? 
SOAS opened my eyes to the importance of variety - a good knowledge of world politics, language and culture - which has made it possible for me to enter the diplomatic world and engage with people whom I know very little about. SOAS provided me with a rich understanding of politics and diplomacy, although I was unaware of this whilst I was a student. My path may have been very different if I had chosen to study at another institution.

Can you give current students any tips on getting into this kind of work? 
Unfortunately it is very difficult to break into the government sector even after spending two years interning at several NGOs and government departments. The best way to approach any application is to seriously consider whether the job or organisation you are applying to is remotely close to what your career. If it isn't - move on. If it is, then it is fundamental that you mention why you have chosen to apply to that particular organisation and talk about ways you fit in. Don't talk directly about yourself but about the value of the organisation itself. As an employer, I've learned this lesson the hard way.