Degree: BA Arabic and Middle East Studies
Year of graduation: 2013
Current place of work: Reports Officer, World Food Programme
When Craig was studying for his BA Arabic and Middle East Studies, he knew he wanted to pursue further study in the US. Here’s how Craig achieved his goal and he tells us how he got to his current position.
What did you do after you graduated?
I knew while I was on my year abroad in Damascus that I wanted to continue learning about the region. I still didn't have a focus, but found so many different aspects of life in the region to be fascinating. As I was applying for Middle East-related Master’s programs, my options were somewhat self-selecting. But I knew I wanted to spend time living in the US, and I knew some of the best universities in the world for Middle East studies were there. I ended up at Georgetown, in Washington, DC, because of its perfect location in terms of learning about the Middle East in international politics, and because the School of Foreign Service there is unbeatable.
What skills and knowledge did you develop which helped with your career prospects?
At first I gained experience writing the odd article for Exepose while I was on my year abroad, followed by internships in Hamburg and Cairo, and then in my final year as Site Manager and Online Editor for Exepose. When I went on to Georgetown I was able to get better and better opportunities because of the experiences I had built up at Exeter.
At Georgetown, I learned to be extremely critical, to work quickly but accurately, and to network like mad. All of these things set me up for my first position after I graduated from the MA programme, as I worked as a Syria Analyst providing reports to aid organizations working inside Syria. The skills I developed in this job, combined with networking, landed me the job I have just started; Reports Officer for the World Food Programme in Iraq. My current job is definitely a result of that steady process of building experience.
What advice would you give current students?
When applying for universities in the US, start early. Speak to people who have been through the process, ideally at the universities you are applying to, even more ideally if they're from the UK. Get to know some of your professors well so that you'll have some good references. Don't underestimate the GREs. Get in touch with students already in the programme you are interested in. Really focus on whether the faculty in that specific programme will suit your interests, and reach out to them, or at least read something they've written.