Marie Houdart

MA International Studies (International Political Economy) 2010 

"The POLSIS has great modules and great teachers who are available and here to support you in your studies and the search of jobs afterwards. The classes are very interesting and since we are not many, there is a great space left for debates."

Who are you currently working for and what is your job title?

I am an intern at the European Commission's Cooperation Office in Brussels. I work within the Directorate E, in charge of the Quality of Operations.

How has your career developed since graduating from the University of Birmingham?

Since the end of my exams, I had the chance to do two internships. I started a 4 months internship at the French Ministry of Finance in June. And then I got accepted for the European Commission internship in Brussels, starting in October 2010.

What is the best thing about what you are doing now?

I like working for the European Commission as it is such a major actor in international cooperation. This stage offers me a great opportunity to get in touch with the concrete aspects of development aid. And I love being in Brussels, a very cosmopolitan city.

Why did you originally apply to POLSIS?

I had just finished a Master of Geography of Development at the Sorbonne in Paris and I wanted to get some economic and political perspective on the development issues by getting a master in International relations. Moreover, the POLSIS department in one of the best in the UK.

What are your fondest memories of your time in POLSIS and the University?

The POLSIS has great modules and great teachers who are available and here to support you in your studies and the search of jobs afterwards. The classes are very interesting and since we are not many, there is a great space left for debates.

The University and its campus are really impressive. It is very big and you have everything you could possibly need: shops, bars, sports facilities and even a museum! Being a student there is a real chance.

How did you grow as a person by coming to University?

The University of Birmingham is a mix of cultures. People are coming from all over the world. The classes and debates really help you interact with other people, exchange point of views and it leads to greater openness.

What did you think of the learning experience within the University and POLSIS in particular?

All the modules are interesting, so it is very hard to just choose three at the beginning of the year! The combination of lectures and personal readings make you learn a lot in just a year. You learn a method to write essays, you learn academic literature and debates. POLSIS really give a thorough formation that prepares us well for our later career.

Did you find the degree programme at POLSIS challenging or easy?

The POLSIS program was pretty challenging for me. English is not my mother tongue and the methodology for essays and learning is completely different from France. So at the beginning, I needed a time to adapt. Teachers are there to guide you. After two months, it was ok!

Did you find a degree from Birmingham helpful to you in getting your first job/placement?

My degree from Birmingham helped me get the internship at the French Ministry of Finance. The job required great knowledge on the IMF and the World Bank and a good level in English. So a MA in international relations from the University of Birmingham was really helpful!

What advice would you give to current and potential students studying on your degree programme?

Work wise, I would advise them to try and organise themselves from the start and stick to a certain schedule. In POLSIS we have a LOT of readings to do and the amount of work is very important so organization, though very hard to do, is essential! The University offers many sport classes ranging from basketball to dance or fitness, I think it's a good way of blowing off some steam after the long hours at the library, so don't hesitate to sign up for them at the beginning of the semester!