SOAS University of London

Jennifer Riddell

Graduating from SOAS set me apart when I was applying for jobs.

Year graduated from SOAS

Programmes studied
BA Politics and History
MA History

Current job title and name of organisation
Account Manager - Public Affairs

What do you like about what you do? 
After graduating SOAS, I left to work in British Politics, and now work as a political consultant, working with clients such as The Crown Estate, Sainsbury's and a host of energy clients.

I manage a range of accounts, and my day-to-day job includes political strategy, communications, Government and Westminster lobbying on behalf of my clients. 

How has your time at SOAS helped you succeed in this role?
Graduating from SOAS set me apart when I was applying for jobs. In a competitive market, I found that my future employers were always interested in me at the interview stage because I had a more "unusual" academic background.

I found that employers want someone with a more distinctive background, who can demonstrate passion and interest in a wide range of subjects. People are always interested to hear about SOAS, and even now it is still a talking point.

During my Masters degree, I spent a lot of time interning for various different organisations; from a North London MP, a small charity, and a large international political communications/publishing firm. This experience, together with my SOAS background meant that I was able to get a job and start my career in an industry which I love.

I still am still proud of my SOAS roots!

Can you give current students any tips on getting into this kind of work? 
In a competitive market, the academic side is just a small part of getting the job.

Internship and work placements are a must. Even if it feels like the internship won't directly lead to a job or if you feel you wouldn’t want to work in that specific sector. In my industry (as with most), every candidate has a good degree from a good university, and many now have Masters degrees. Employers are looking for the extra "value added" stuff. Typically, 2-3 internships are mandatory,
and it is no secret that even getting internships in the first instance is competitive. At my last firm, we used to have 50-100 applicants for every internship advertised.

Be persistent; don't give up; and talk to people. You never know who knows who - I've been able to give internships to people that I've met through friends/at events,
which has led them to finding jobs.