Rebekah Roche: BA Politics & Global Studies 2017-20; Vaccination Programme Administrator, Royal United Hospitals Bath NHS Foundation Trust

19 May 21

“We are taught as kids that there are such narrow choices in careers but there are so many other options before and after you graduate. That’s the good thing about university; your degree gets you through the door. That’s what Winchester did for me – opened my eyes and broke down the narrow walls career-wise that we put ourselves in.”

Rebekah Roche is a Vaccination Programme Administrator and a graduate of 2020. Having studied Politics and Global studies for three years, Rebekah has learned how to debate and compromise. She has just been accepted into a civil service graduate scheme which she hopes will kick-start her dream career for years to come.

“I’m starting a Civil Service Fast Stream graduate scheme in early September but currently I’m working with the NHS as a Vaccination Programme Administrator before I start working for the Civil Service. It is a generalist graduate scheme with lots of different postings across the three years and it will eventually get you into the senior civil service quicker. They need a supply of people to fill different positons with one posting outside of London.”

“I was rejected the first time round I applied for the graduate scheme. There are multiple schemes under the umbrella of the civil service. The first time around I picked schemes with fewer places rather than ones with many chances. I did more research once I applied again. It’s actually a good experience to be turned down - failing hurts your ego but you learn from it.”

Rebekah says she has applied a lot of the skills she learned on her degree to achieve getting into the civil service.

“My degree has helped me very much in what I want to achieve next, not so much the course content but the skills I learnt, such as debating, learning to compromise and working with other people while listening to their opinions and experiences.”

“In the Civil Service interview, they give you scenarios for issues and it is about picking the best route and how you achieve the outcome rather than the actual outcome itself.”

“You pick which project you want to argue for and sell and you are against 15 other people. I did not pick the best project because I let the others choose from the list first. However, because I tailored my messaging affectively, which I learned to do on my degree, I did well. So, my advice is even if you are given the worst argument, learn how to sell it and commit to it.”

Wanting to welcome students who may have felt concerned about moving to university, she worked as a student ambassador throughout her studies.

“I was really scared to go to university. I had just turned eighteen when I arrived, but I fell in love with the atmosphere at Winchester, so much so that I became a student ambassador. This really built up my confidence to speak to people. I’ve gained lots of skills I wouldn’t have learned if I didn’t do this and had just stuck to my degree.”

“It encouraged my confidence and my assertiveness. I think a lot of young people feel they can’t speak out but being a student ambassador has given me the skills to do this professionally. For instance, it was helpful building interpersonal relationships with staff, confident that you know what you’re doing.”

In her spare time, Rebekah took part in Debating Society. Through this she made even more friends and gained extra academic skills while having fun.

“I helped to re-establish Debating Society in my first year with a group of friends who also studied Politics and Global Studies or Politics, Economics and Ethics. I was treasurer. I really enjoyed this because I ran the debating society at my sixth form.”

“Taking part in Debating Society gave me the opportunity to meet people from different age groups that I wouldn’t have met or crossed paths with otherwise. This meant I got to listen to different insights on topics and university life as a whole. We supported each other with learning how to argue in essays. It almost became an academic support group which was really nice.”

Even through difficult academic moments, Rebekah has always felt supported at university. In fact, her best memory comes from advice she was given by her lecturer in her first year after she had failed an assignment.

“I remember one of my lecturers in first year being really encouraging of my choice to go into the Civil Service after university as I went to university knowing that was what I wanted to achieve.”

“I had failed an assessment, and even though it didn’t count towards my grade my lecturer gave some good advice about how I was going to use my degree to get the job I wanted rather than just gaining a piece of paper. He took the time to speak to me and understand where I was coming from, so I’ll always remember that really well.”

Rebekah is pleased to start this civil service scheme which has been her dream job since starting university. She also aspires to work for the United Nations (UN) in the future. She adds that studying at Winchester helped her to understand different career options.

“The civil service scheme will take three years, but I have always wanted to achieve lots of different things. I hope in the future to work on UN humanitarian issues and Middle East peace plans, but first you have to do seven years of domestic civil service.”

“You have to know what you want to do but the umbrella of opportunity opens once you are in the civil service – once you take the first steps more doors open.”

“We are taught as kids that there are such narrow choices in careers but there are so many other options before and after you graduate. That’s the good thing about university; your degree gets you through the door. That’s what Winchester did for me – opened my eyes and broke down narrow walls career-wise that we put ourselves in.”

Having been a student ambassador and as a recent graduate, Rebekah has some great advice for students regarding their university experience.

“On open days I would always give different advice based on my own student experience. You’re never in a scenario where there’s such a variety of opportunities. It’s also okay to say no to things. That’s the brilliant thing about university – it isn’t a set of train tracks – you can be social one week and take time out in the library to focus the next week.”

“Students feel pressure of perceived ideas of university and first year experience. People need to feel comfortable either way - there’s no one uniform experience of university – it’s all very personal to you.”

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