We were lucky enough to talk with School of English and Drama alumna, Anum Ahmed, 5 years after her own graduation and find out where her degree has taken her and also collect some valuable tips for 2019 Graduates to take on-board.
Anum Ahmed, Senior LGBT Policy Officer, Government Equalities Office
(English BA, 2014)
24 July 2019
What did you study at Queen Mary and what are you doing now?
I studied English Literature and loved every minute of it! Since graduating I’ve been working for the UK’s Civil Service and today I’m a Senior Policy Adviser working for the Government Equalities Office.
Why did you choose to study at Queen Mary and what advice would you have for 2018/19 graduates?
Queen Mary offered me an exciting degree course with literature modules in post-colonial fiction. I wanted to learn about the stories of people in Iraq, South Africa and Israel and Palestine to name a few.
My advice for you guys today would be to walk out of these doors with big dreams for your career and to use your transferable skills to achieve those dreams.
What sparked your interest in your current career within the Civil Service?
I came across the Department for International Development’s graduate scheme and learned that I could make a meaningful difference to the lives of marginalised people in the developing world. Since then I’ve continued using that drive to tackle challenging social policy issues on LGBT equality, domestic abuse and hate crime.
How did your time and study at Queen Mary help your career and development?
Queen Mary is a haven for extracurricular activities and work experience placements; so I spent my three years building my skills and portfolio of experiences by doing the following:
What advice would you offer to current students who themselves are considering a career in the Civil Service?
I would say first and foremost that if you like interrogating complex issues, working with people and driving forward positive changes that have an impact on real people, then the civil service is the place for you!
My top tip is to research and understand what the civil service recruitment process is all about and how best you make your skills and talent shine in your application and interview.
Most importantly, make the most of your internships and work experience placements during your time at QMUL so you have concrete examples of demonstrating leadership, teamwork and good communication skills in your back-pocket!
Why is it exciting to do what you do?
A day in the life of a policy adviser is quite exciting! You can be leading ground-breaking policy projects, drafting Ministerial speeches, providing advice to Ministers and engaging with the public on how we can make things better for them.
Do you have any role-models that you look up to, both inside and outside of your field?
I'm inspired by the people I design policies for - they are my role-models. I listen to their life stories, the obstacles they’ve faced and the resilience they have shown which makes me want to work harder and use the position I have to make a change!