From Roehampton to Burma: How I found my dream career

by Isabel Todd
8 February 2016


Hello, my name is Isabel. In 2013, I graduated from the department of Social Sciences at Roehampton with a degree in human rights. Determined to find work that I am passionate about, my goal was to find a career in the United Nations. During my degree, I had the opportunity to work on a placement with the Kurdistan Regional Government as a part of a module. This was invaluable experience and made such a difference to my CV – I recommend grabbing opportunities like this with both hands.

After graduation, I began sending out applications. Several weeks passed and I was ecstatic to be invited to interview for an internship with the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR)! The interview went well, but I did not get the position. I was disappointed, but have since learned that rejection is a reality for starting out in any career and should not be taken personally.

For the next six months, I worked as a DJ in London. Then, I found out about another internship with a different department at the UNHCR London office. I applied, was invited for an interview and this time was successful in getting the position! I soon discovered that a full time internship and late night tech-house DJing don’t mix.  So, I played my last gig at Ministry of Sound and hung up my decks to apply myself fully to my hard earned internship.

Working at UNHCR was an amazing learning experience. I met truly brilliant people and gained insight into the organisation and the wider field of international refugee protection. Yet, I was surprised to find early on that this wasn’t quite what I wanted to do for my career.

After completing my internship, I knew that I enjoyed researching and writing about human rights. I wasn’t sure how to get into this type of work, so I just did it on my own alongside some voluntary work.  I ended up researching and writing an article on human rights in Burma (Myanmar). It was published by the International Refugee Rights Initiative.

I have now been living on the Thai/Burma border for the past six months, working with a local human rights group researching and documenting human rights abuse. The article I wrote was key to my application to work out here, as was my social science academic background. I plan to stay for a further six months working on devising a human rights curriculum and training workshops for local people and ethnic rebel groups; work I would not be qualified to do if it weren’t for the multi-disciplinary education in human rights I received at Roehampton.

I feel incredibly lucky to be doing this work and am so glad that I not only asked myself what field I wanted to work in or who I wanted to work for, but most importantly “What do I want to be doing every day?” I encourage you to do the same – good luck! 


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