Alumni Profiles

Alexandra El Dbeissy - MA International Politics (Specialist) (2019)

MA International Relations (Specialist), graduated in 2019.  Currently working as a Consular Affairs Attaché at the Consulate General of Panama in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE).

What you do now?

After concluding my Master’s degree, I began working as a Consular Affairs Attaché at the Consulate General of Panama in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE). My role involves diplomatic and consular affairs. For instance, I have been involved in bilateral agreements between Panama and the United Arab Emirates, and I have also acted as a point of contact between the Consulate and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the UAE. I am as well heavily involved in drafting official notes addressed to governmental organizations and diplomats. In addition to all of the above, my role also includes preparing reports on contemporary international affairs and assisting Panamanian citizens with different consular inquiries and requirements.

This experience is thrilling and rewarding, as it has allowed me to work and interact with high-level officials and gain a broader perspective about the issues that revolve around diplomacy. It is eye-opening and to say that I have learned a lot would be too small an expression.

The best things about the University were...

Throughout my time at Aberystwyth University, I particularly liked how important it is for the University to provide students with not just a great education, but also with a well-rounded experience that spoke volumes about the University’s dedication to the mental and physical health of their students. I also completely loved the diverse sports clubs and group exercises available at University. I joined the Tennis Club and my favorite fitness classes were Zumba and Step & Tone. Furthermore, having Hugh Owen library available 24/7 was a true gift. I managed to get all my work and studies done there and because it was always open, I never had to stress about it.

Your favourite thing about living in Aberystwyth?

One of my favorite things about living in Aberystwyth was how close to the beach we were. I would go with my friends and just sit by the beach and watch these spectacular sunsets. One of my other favorite things about Aberystwyth is all the cozy, charming shops in town. I have always adored the look and feel of the town and how sometimes a simple grocery run felt a little bit magical. Finally, and more importantly, I like how safe and friendly Aberystwyth is. It is a great place to live and a great place to visit.

How your degree has helped/will help your career?

My Master’s degree has helped me develop a more analytical mindset when it comes to evaluating international affairs from a political, cultural, and social angle. I have become more enabled in my capacity to acquire knowledge on the key policies that different countries implement to boost their economies and position as State actors in the international system. Additionally, my degree helped me enhance my communication skills, allowing me to communicate effectively in my current job.

What advice you would give to other Venezuelan students wanting to study in the UK?

My advice would be to start preparing early for your university application. Looking ahead of time into the university’s program and finding what interests you, as well as understanding the admission requirements, deadlines, tuition fees, accommodations options, university facilities, and funding opportunities can give you a great advantage. Research and early preparation are essential steps as you find your way to university. I would also highly recommend looking for online courses that can help you prepare well for any entrance exams; there are many suitable courses and practical tests available online for the IELTS exam, for example.

My other advice would be to dive into your experience with your whole heart. There is so much to learn and so much to see, so be present. Take it all in, so you can carry that with you everywhere you go.

Stefan Rhys Hansen - BA Human Geography with International Politics (2017)

BA Human Geography with International Politics (major/minor). Graduated in 2017. Currently works as an Administrative intern at the Welsh Government EU Office.

Why did you choose to study at Aberystwyth?

I was attracted by the department’s international recognition and the fact that Aberystwyth has a strong Welsh speaking community. Being a Welsh speaker and having been brought up in Brussels, I saw Aberystwyth as a great opportunity to use my Welsh while simultaneously being part of an internationally acclaimed IR department. Attending seminars at Aberystwyth University allowed me to build on my confidence as a speaker and allowed me to develop my teamwork and interpersonal skills. I also undertook a course on EU politics. This has very much helped me in my work now as I am exposed to EU affairs on a daily basis as part of my work.

How has your career developed since graduating from Aberystwyth?

After completing my BA at Aberystwyth University, I went on to do a master’s in Global Development at The University of Copenhagen. While in Copenhagen, I was an active volunteer at the Danish Refugee Council and as part of my master’s I undertook two weeks of field research in the town of Morogoro in Tanzania. These experiences allowed me to build on my communication, teamwork and organisational skills which I had acquired being a student in both Aberystwyth and Copenhagen. After defending my master’s thesis in June 2019, I started working at the Welsh Government’s EU office in Brussels in early September as an administrative intern.

The role of the Welsh Government EU Office in Brussels is to represent Wales at the EU level. In total we are 11 employees covering the policy areas of trade, agriculture, economic development and business development. As part of my work, I help with organising events in Brussels (and Europe) which aim to promote Welsh culture and history. This is something which I really enjoy and I am very happy to be part of as a Welshman. As part of my work I also gain exposure to exciting initiatives that Wales takes part in at the European level, such as the Vanguard initiative. Working at the Welsh Government EU office here in Brussels we get a lot of visitors from Wales, especially ministers, and I also work with organising these visits and arranging meetings.

As part of my work I attend many events and receptions here in Brussels which is great for extending my personal professional network. What I also enjoy is to be able to apply my theoretical knowledge of IR, which I learnt at the department, in the real world here in Brussels. This is especially true at this pivotal moment in UK/EU relations. Furthermore, I really enjoy working in Brussels as I can use my Welsh, French, Danish and English language skills.

Advice for students looking to take a similar career path?

I think it is important to make the most of career services as well as other opportunities around you to develop your skills and improve your employment prospects. For me, volunteering work allowed me to improve my communication and organizational skills and work with subjects which were relevant to my master’s studies despite not being formally employed. Languages are always a strong asset and this is especially true if you want to work internationally. Learning either French or German will be especially useful for any work related to the EU.

Fred Mackereth - BSc Econ International Politics (2016)

BSc Econ International Politics, graduated in 2016. Currently working for the Human Relief Foundation as a Programmes Officer.

Why did you choose to study at Aberystwyth and what are your favourite memories of studying here?

The International Politics department at Aberystwyth is one of the best in the world, so the decision to study there was an obvious one. There is a friendly, community atmosphere which is immediately apparent from the open day. I would whole heartedly recommend studying here. I don’t think it is an understatement to say that my study at Aberystwyth laid the foundations for my career. It was during my time at Aberystwyth University that I learnt to think critically, to analyse information and sources, and to turn this into coherent and logical arguments. This is an essential skill for any work involving project design and has proved invaluable. One of my favourite things about studying in this department was the ability to go to lectures and seminars every week and to be taught and challenged by some of the best minds in the field.

How has your career developed since graduating from Aberystwyth?

I work in the humanitarian aid ‘sector’, which is notoriously difficult to enter as a graduate. After a couple of internships and unsuccessful job interviews, I secured a position as a Programmes Assistant at Human Relief Foundation. I was promoted after 6 months to Programmes Officer, and am now responsible for developing a wide range of projects across different humanitarian contexts. My role when distilled to its elements is one of problem solving. It is about analysing a situation, identifying the problem and hopefully providing a solution. Also key to my job is the ability to write and communicate with clarity and logic to a variety of different stakeholders. I get to travel frequently to interesting and unlikely places, which I think is a draw to most working in the sector. But the most satisfying part of my job is seeing the implementation and the impact of projects that I have helped to develop and secure funding for.

Advice for students looking to take a similar career path?

Don’t give up! The sector can seem impenetrable from the outside, but if you work hard and persist, you will get there eventually.