“The truth,” says Ali Fazel, “is that when we leave university, we might think we know who we are, what we value, and what matters most to us. But moving into a completely new life and working nine to five without all your mates down the road can be quite a learning curve.”
Ali worked part-time in politics throughout his degree. The summer after he graduated, he moved to London and took a full time role in Parliament as a Parliamentary Adviser. But something wasn’t quite right. After six months, he realised he wanted to look at other careers, and that kind of experience can be overwhelming. “Those feelings are best navigated when you know what matters most to you and what you want to achieve,” he reflects. “For some people, that means going away for a few months of travelling; for others it means getting further industry experience, or moving back home for a while. Whatever it looks like, don’t feel like you need to make decisions right away. You’ll be working for the rest of your life; there’s really no rush!”
PPE did a fantastic job in preparing me for the conceptual side of work – whether that’s creative brainstorming, strategizing or bringing together new ideas.Ali Fazel, BA (Hons) PPE, University of Birmingham
For Ali, rethinking his career meant trying news things in both work and study. His BA (Hons) PPE degree equipped him with skills that can be applied to all kinds of jobs, which made change feel a little less intimidating. “PPE did a fantastic job in preparing me for the conceptual side of work – whether that’s creative brainstorming, strategizing or bringing together new ideas. It helps to be able to draw on different disciplines when working, often giving you a multi layered understanding of issues,” he says.
Now he works as an account manager for a cyber security company and is studying on a Career Accelerator course at LSE. Joining the tech sector has bolstered his ambitions. “I’m looking forward to growing my skill set with programming languages and data tools. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t excited about going back to uni!”
Many PPE modules had a lasting effect on Ali. “Once of the most beneficial things for me was the ability to mould the course to what I knew would be helpful to me in the future. There are still modules and essays I think back to which have been relevant to me and the work I’ve done since graduating.”
George Berry graduated in 2021 and took a little time to find his way, too. “I applied to a lot of traditional graduate schemes because that seemed the thing to do. I didn’t really know what the roles would involve, and when it came down to the last few stages, I realised they weren’t for me,” he muses. “I should have considered this much earlier before I put so much time into the application processes. I’d have had more time to find roles I was excited about.”
Fortunately, PPE led George to a job he could flourish in, and now he works on the consumer advocacy team at Which?.
“Having studied PPE, moving into a policy role didn’t feel like I was starting from scratch,” he says. “It’s also really fun being part of an organisation that has a lot of brand recognition and respect in both the public and policymaking circles. I work on digital policy issues like connectivity and online harms, trying to promote the consumer interest to government and industry. The work feels important.”
After graduating, George learned a lot about searching for jobs in the policy sector. “Don’t think that government is the only place to start a career in policy. There are lots of policy jobs outside of the civil service, in not-for-profits, advocacy organisations and research institutes.” It’s important to take chances, if you feel able. “Apply for things even if you don’t meet 100% of the person spec. Employers often seem stricter in the advert than they are in real life.”
Like Ali, George loved the flexibility and insight offered by a degree in PPE. “I think having had training in each of the three disciplines helps me to think through policy positions more holistically. PPE highlighted the places where Social Policy, Politics and Economics overlap, and they’re all relevant for consumer policy.” PPE has been vital in establishing George’s skills in policymaking and advising. “It helped me to demonstrate an understanding of the UK political system and policymaking process, which has been important as relevant Bills that affect consumers move through parliament.”
2021 graduate Klaudia Boguta found a home for her PPE expertise at the University of Birmingham with an administration role in the Business School. She too is juggling fulltime work with further study. “I’m learning to code on a UoB boot camp programme, as well as taking a six month course in software and web development in the evenings,” she says. “Studying PPE has helped, as I’m used to juggling three subjects at once. Being an administrator means I’m supporting many different teams and taking on several different roles simultaneously. I have the transferrable skills of organisation and multitasking.”
Klaudia also faced career challenges after university. “I joined a graduate scheme, but I think I rushed into what seemed like a great opportunity for a career and further study. I wanted the short term perks it offered,” she admits. “However, having now been in a full time job for six months, and having friends who have gone into full time roles straight away after graduating, I’ve learned that your experience in a full time role can be much richer and much more tailored to you. It’s also possible to obtain the same salary as offered by a graduate scheme.”
Now Klaudia is enjoying the financial freedom that comes with work, as well as the support of her new colleagues. “I like the respectful atmosphere of the office and my wonderful team. I have a healthy work life balance alongside progression opportunities.”
Find out more about the benefits of studying for a BA (Hons) PPE at the University of Birmingham.