A girls making notes

April 16, 2024, by aayjr12

What can you gain from attending events and lectures held by guest speakers?

By Josephine Ruffles, Politics and American Studies student

Since being at university I have attended 10 extra lectures and seminars hosted by external figures. I have been fortunate to meet influential figures, multiple visiting professors with an abundance of knowledge, and connect and network with multiple alumni in areas ranging from local government to the UN. The experiences and growth brought about by these events are irreplaceable, and I hope after reading this, you sign up for some!

What have your highlights been?

My highlights have been the annual lecture by Sir John Sawyers (previous head of MI6) which I attended twice, and the conversation with His Excellency Miguel Berger, the Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany to the UK.

What are the talks and events about and how does they link to careers?

They usually provide insight into a topic that is prominent or present in the news, but usually try to show it from a different perspective. For example, the UoN Centre for US in the World Studies hosted a panel talk with Professor Erike Lee, she spoke in depth about the issues of race, and specifically xenophobia in America, which has been a prominent topic to speak on over the past few years. However, she spoke about it from the perspective of an immigrant, I learned about issues less widely known, such as Chinese immigration into San Francisco in the 20th century. This gives me the opportunity to explore a range of career paths and familiarise myself with professionals in the field I’m interested in.

Do you get the opportunity to meet industry guests and are there networking opportunities?

Yes, so in most cases the school will have tea and coffee afterwards for anyone wanting to discuss the topic in greater depth. However, in most talks I have attended, there is only time afterwards to thank them or ask them an extra question. In my experience, the majority of times where you’re able to speak with guests in depth is at the annual careers’ events held by the school where they bring in 3-5 alumni who are in politics careers. Here you get the opportunity to connect with them and ask them questions related to how they got to where they are. This has been vital to helping me with my career goals, as I learned how long it will take to get into certain jobs and most important, how careers are not linear! You also have the opportunity to connect with other likeminded students and discuss your career paths with peers in the same situation.

Does it open you up to more career opportunities that you might not have previously thought about?

Definitely! For example, I attended a seminar with Dr Philip Seargeant from the Open University who gave a seminar on “a slogan is not a philosophy: political catchphrases as a form of fake news”. The seminar gave me greater understanding of how popular catch phrases like “Make America Great Again”, and “Stop The Boats”, were made to be successful and form exclusive groupings. It also showed a different career path to me inside politics that related more to marketing and writing, which I hadn’t thought of before!

What’s the benefit to your future career by attending? What do you gain?

You learn about topics from different perspectives, which will help you in your later careers. I have already touched upon this lightly, but after the conversation with the Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany to the UK, I learnt about the Israel Palestine conflict, from a German perspective. Learning about topics from different perspectives helps you understand the work of a diplomat in greater depth, and gives you more knowledge around a topic area itself.

Here is an overview of the talks I have attended! Some run annually, so keep an eye out on specific pages or your emails, to see when they will be held again!

  • Sir John Sawyers (Ex Head of MI6) annual speech in 2022 and 2023
  • A conversation with His Excellency Miguel Berger, the Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany to the UK.
  • Professor Erika Lee- historian of race, immigration and xenophobia (Centre for US in the World Studies) 
  • Dr Philip Seargeant from the Open University” A slogan is not a philosophy: Political catchphrases as a form of fake news”.
  • Professor David C. W. Parker from Montana State University and Visiting Fulbright Specialist “MAGA: How Donald Trump’s Capture of the Republican Party has Undermined American Democracy”.
  • School of Politics and IR Alumni Careers Conferences in 2022, 2023, and 2024
  • School of CLAS Alumni Careers Conference in 2023

If you want to explore different career paths by talking to industry professionals, alumni, peers and academics, the Careers and Employability Service have lots of opportunities to explore on their events page, start your search today.

Posted in Careers Advice