I went to Oxford to read for the MPhil in International Relations after completing my undergraduate degree in Politics and Parliamentary Studies at the University of Leeds. My undergraduate course was a four-year programme with a year spent interning: I spent the first half of the year working for an MP in Parliament, and then lived in Washington DC for five months, interning for a Member of Congress. I loved my internship year, but when I came back to Leeds I realised that I really wanted to spend some more time studying.
I spent my two years at The Queen’s College, which I believe is very pretty, and helpfully looks exactly how you’d expect a traditional Oxford college to look, complete with quads where you are not allowed on the grass, and candlelit formal dinners in hall. The college is relatively small, both physically and in terms of number of students, which helped me to become very involved in college life: I was secretary of the MCR in my second year, and so played a very active role. This was in addition to a busy extra-curricular life behind the scenes in the theatre: I worked on a large number of productions during my time at Oxford, including as Stage Manager for West Side Story at the Oxford Playhouse, and Production Manager for the OUDS/Thelma Holt International Tour summer 2010.
In between time in the theatre, I spent rather a lot of time in the Social Sciences Library! I chose to focus my thesis on US foreign policy and humanitarian intervention, choosing in particular the period when Bill Clinton was president. However, my thesis also ended up being quite heavily theoretical, which was not the intention but was definitely very good for my knowledge of IR! In my second year, my optional subjects, Post-Conflict State-Building and US Politics (from the Politics and not IR side of the department) worked very nicely with my chosen thesis subject. I particularly enjoyed the Post-Conflict State-Building paper.
I did consider doing a DPhil but I rather unexpectedly started working as soon as I left Oxford. I had my second interview with Brooks Newmark, MP for Braintree, three days after my finals, signed a contract 10 days later, and started working Parliament a few days after that! Brooks is particularly interested in the US, the Middle East and Sub-Saharan Africa, so it was a pretty good match. Working was really centre of UK political life is really exciting and I loved my time back in Parliament. However, after 15 months, another great opportunity came up at Lexington Communications, a public affairs company. I’ve now been here for almost two years, and my focus has shifted more onto British politics and particularly financial services. I may not focus much on international issues, but I make the most of my research skills, and have recently created a new job for myself within the company, which has a particular focus on research. I know my MPhil has set me up really well for wherever my career takes me next!