Meet our Public Policy MA Alumni
We asked some of our former MA students to let us know how their time at King's helped prepare them for graduate life.
Ashleigh Ryan, MA Public Policy
After submitting my dissertation in September 2012, I returned to my home city of Toronto, Canada to pursue my career. Since then I have been working as a Policy Analyst at the Institute for Competitiveness & Prosperity, a small think tank funded by the Ontario Ministry of Economic Development and based at the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto. I research economic and public policy issues affecting the province of Ontario.
In what ways has your degree been useful?
My degree has been immensely useful since I graduated. The critical thinking and research skills I acquired during my studies have enabled me to have sound judgement of what makes for good public policy. In addition, the network of highly intelligent people from all over the world with different academic backgrounds has broadened my horizons both personally and professionally. I feel very fortunate to have friends in high-ranking positions in cities as diverse as New Delhi, Washington, D.C., Mexico City and Dakar. I also felt that writing a dissertation was a unique component for a public policy programme and gave me the discipline and advanced research capabilities to work in both professional and academic environments. King’s has a great reputation both in Europe and abroad and I have felt it has set me apart from other graduates.
How might current students make themselves more employable?
Personally, I regret not taking the quantitative analysis module as I think it would be invaluable for MA graduates. I chose not to take the class because I had taken quite a few quantitative courses during my undergraduate economics programme, but now I feel quite rusty on my stats and feel that the MA module would have been a useful way to refamiliarise myself.
Quantitative skills are one of the biggest advantages you can have in applying for policy jobs. Many people can write and synthesize literature findings, but those who can collect data and analyse it well, on top of having strong writing abilities, are the ones who really succeed in the job market. It’s important to encourage public policy students to get over their fear of math and quantitative data.
My favourite class on the programme was Case Studies in Policy Decision Making. Being able to debate various policy options on many different issues was very insightful and engaging. It was the closest hands-on training for what actual policy professionals do at a fundamental level.
Matt Dolman. MA Public Policy
I studied at King's, taking classes in Comparative Public Policy, European Public Policy and Designing Public Policy among others. I also took the internship module, which is one of the things that attracted me to King's in the first place. For that, I worked for an MP in Westminster, which then led on to volunteering with a campaign group while I finished my dissertation.
I have finished a couple of short term contracts in different areas since graduating as I really wanted to make sure that I knew what I wanted to do before committing to a career path. I’ve tried my hand at research and lobbying but I’m now a Constituency Organiser for an MP.
In what ways has your degree been useful?
During my MA, I developed many of the skills that I'd picked up on my BA. I used them in my voluntary roles and as a researcher for an SU but the thing that really helped me a lot was the internship programme. Aside from giving me the opportunity to make contacts and learn new skills (both of which have directly led to each of the jobs I have picked up since), it gave me a much needed boost to the practical experience listed on my CV. Great marks and interesting dissertation topics are very useful but what most employers really want is to know what you can do for them and how good you were at it the last time you tried. Practical experience in the field is like gold dust.
How might current students make themselves more employable?
Get on the internship programme. If you can’t, try and get every scrap of practical experience you can while you’re studying in London. Even a week spent helping a charity with a research project or a day camped out in an MP’s office does so much to help you get a job at the end of your time at King's – but that’s only if you tell employers about it! Don’t be shy about maximising the value of every little bit of experience you have and make sure you ask about getting a reference at the end of every experience. Even if the pay is bad and the hours horrible, it will definitely be worth it in the end (though talk to the internship office about good and bad employers before accepting anything).
Jess David MA Public Policy (part-time)
I had worked for around five years after my first degree in Politics when I began the MA course. I was looking for a Public Policy course that would allow me to study part-time and fit in around my job. I chose the Kings course because it combined the policy process and comparative courses with a range of options that meant I could study specific policy areas in more detail.
I took the course over two years, completing the core courses in the first year and then the additional courses and my dissertation in the second. I chose a dissertation topic that was relevant to my work and this allowed me to broaden my understanding of the area that I was working in. Aside from the achievement of completing the course, one of the main benefits of having taken the MA was that it helped my career development and I have since moved into a new role as a Policy Advisor in the public sector. I also enjoyed the opportunity to study new policy issues in detail and to meet other part-time students pursuing careers in different areas with whom I have stayed in touch.
Christie Silk, MA Public Policy
After completing a BA in Modern History at Oxford University I was sure that I wanted to develop a career in social policy, but felt that I would benefit from developing an academic understanding of the policy process. The King’s programme offered an attractive combination of the practical and the theoretical, taught by leaders in the field. Its central London location, close to Westminster and the headquarters of many NGOs, charities and other policy actors, was also a strong pull.
My experience was extremely positive. The teaching was engaging and constructive, and I always felt challenged, but supported. I learned a lot from my peers, mainly because of their great variety of work experiences in governments and NGOs in the UK and abroad, and everyone’s enthusiasm for the world of policy and politics! The regular guest lectures drew speakers from a range of academic and occupational policy areas, which was a great opportunity to learn from, and debate with, high profile policy actors.
And ultimately, I can say that the MA helped me to get my current job. I completed the internship programme at Citizens Advice, working in the Consumer Policy Team on issues around bankruptcy and mortgages. When I completed the MA, I was appointed as Assistant Policy Officer in the Welfare Policy Team, and worked closely on the Welfare Reform Bill. I’m now Social Policy Campaigns Officer – a challenging and exciting role. I often recall what I have learned from King’s about concepts of policy influencing, constitutional law, and comparative welfare systems. I have no regrets!
Jasmine Alam, MA Public Policy
I completed my undergraduate degree in Economics from Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada. After graduating and working in a policy area at a federal government department in Canada, I felt I needed a strong Master’s degree in order to reach my career objectives and goals. I also wanted a degree that would give me a competitive ‘edge’. After applying various universities both in North America and the UK, I decided to accept the offer at King’s. It was a very good decision to pursue the MA program at King’s since it offered a more balanced approach to public policy focusing on both theory and practise on current public policies. Moreover, the faculty members for the public policy program at King’s were always quick to respond to queries and offered great advice on everything from course selection to course material. Additionally, the program allowed flexibility in choosing individual course modules and a dissertation topic of choice.
Having control over the type of work and research you want to study is, in my view, one of the greatest aspects of this program. In this way, I was able to tailor the degree and gain expertise in my specific field of interest. My Master’s degree from King’s College London – a prestigious university worldwide- has definitely opened doors for me both professionally and academically. Shortly after completing my dissertation, I was offered a position at PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP. Academically, I have been accepted to various highly ranked universities for the PhD program. The program at King’s college has definitely given me the ‘edge’ I was looking for. I recommend this program to anyone who is strongly committed to public policy and is determined to be a leader in the public policy domain.
Alex Cristea, MA Public Policy
I am from Romania where I currently live and work in the Public Service. As I set out to become a much needed change factor in the Romanian public system I had to choose from quite a broad range of specialised public policy programmes across the European Union. One year of Public Policy at King's was definitely my best choice, since it provided me with most of the theoretical tools necessary in this particular field. Apart from that, the individual study of the Anglo-Saxon approach on different policy issues, as well as the experience kindly shared by the practitioners invited to our courses, have completed each other harmoniously allowing a far better understanding of the taught subjects. It is both a serious and fun programme to attend as it involves active games, class interaction, great adaptability and flexibility, individual study and even avionics (!). The programme is definitely a cornerstone in both my personal and my professional life and I would wholeheartedly advise anyone interested in the field of public policy to apply.
Siobhan Fitzpatrick, MA Public Policy
Studying an MA in Public Policy opened my eyes and opened doors to the fascinating – and frustrating – world of policy. With a degree in Economics and Geography and little hands-on experience, I benefited hugely from the dynamic class debates with colleagues whose backgrounds in local and central government across Europe challenged my opinions. The breadth of modules introduced me to a spectrum of policy contexts, and enabled me to develop my own research interests.
I was inspired in particular by Professor Alison Wolf, whose insight led me to question so many things I had previously taken for granted. Now working in the higher education sector, Professor Wolf’s name crops up again and again. I recognise the privilege of having been taught by such high profile and leading academics in the field. Whilst studying for my MA, I gained invaluable experience from voluntary internships with Crisis and Foyer, two homeless charities. As well as being exposed to policy work in a pressure group and a membership organisation, I was able to place the theories I learnt on the course into practice, make contacts, and understand the practicalities of influencing policy. I later had the privilege of joining a small research team in the KCL Centre for Evidence and Policy to undertake a literature review on the impact of research on policy.
Having an MA alongside two policy internships enabled me to take a permanent job as Policy Officer for the Medical Schools Council, Dental Schools Council and Association of UK University Hospitals, where I have been exposed to policy making in health and higher education at the highest levels. I love the variety of my day to day role, which can include meetings with senior academics, attending strategic meetings with ministers, giving presentations to stakeholder groups, responding to consultations or undertaking research to support policy positions. I would highly recommend the MA in Public Policy at King’s for so many reasons – the opportunity to study at a prestigious university in London, the breadth of debates and guest speakers on the course, and the opportunity to study modules to suit your own interests. For me, the added value of the MA was in challenging my opinions, inspiring me to read and learn about past policies and policymaking, and acting as the all important stepping stone to a career in policy.