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Meet our outstanding alumni – University of Reading

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  • Graduate Stories

    Real-world experience and eye-opening opportunities

Meet our outstanding alumni

We do everything we can to support our students during their studies, so that they can go into rewarding careers. We caught up with some of our graduates to see where their degrees had taken them.

Holly Gibbs Holly Gibbs

BA Politics and International Relations, 2017

One of the highlights of Holly’s student days at the University of Reading was working on The Politics Show on Junction 11 Radio as part of the second year module ‘The Media and Politics’.  For Holly, working with Dr Mark Shanahan and Dr Dawn Clarke gave her the confidence to believe her dream of working in broadcasting was a realistic career for her.

Working as a student ambassador for departmental events, she interviewed the Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow, and US Ambassador, Matthew Barzun, which stood out on her job applications.

Following her graduation she got a place on one of the most respected journalism training courses in the country. She now works for Sky News on their weekly debate show ‘The Pledge’.

“I am grateful for the experiences and the lessons I have learnt within the Department of Politics and International Relations.  I wouldn’t be where I am today if I had gone anywhere else to study.”

Holly Gibbs

Olivia Highwood

BA Politics and International Relations, 2016

Having failed to get the results she hoped for in her A Levels, and getting into the University through the clearing process, Olivia put in some hard work and was given the Chancellor’s Award at the end of her first year for her efforts anOliviad results.

During her three years at the University, Olivia participated in several societies, including The Politics Show on Junction 11 Radio and wrote for The Spark newspaper and The Tab. By opting for modules that match her interests, Olivia was able to study and debate the subjects she was passionate about, and wrote her dissertation on young people and voting.

Following her studies, she spent a year working in hospitality and international events before joining an international property corporation in London. In 2018, she headed up lettings negotiations in a lettings department in West London, involving negotiating deals, valuations, handling department marketing and social media accounts. She now works as a Lettings Manager for an asset management company.

Olivia’s passion for politics and international relations, plays a vital role in her job. The knowledge of British and EU law, as well as her study of the British society, helps her negotiations giving her an understanding of the British and international political state, and how it affects the property industry.

“The seminar-focused format of the Politics and International Relations course helped me develop my confidence in public speaking and generating informed opinions, while also understanding the importance of listening to others and taking in information.”

Olivia Highwood

Freddy Farias Arias

BA Politics and Economics, 2017

Throughout his time at the University of Reading, Freddy endeavoured to get the most out of his university experiencFreddye.

As part of the Model United Nations (MUN) module, Freddy was part of the 2016 delegation sent to participate in the International MUN conference at the University of Leuven, Belgium. This module rekindled his passion for constructive debate on pressing issues in international trade and investment and affirmed his desire to work in international trade and diplomacy one day.

In the same year, he also applied for and was then selected to join a group of professors in the department of Economics to help deliver lectures and seminars at the Nanjing University of Information, Science and Technology, China, alongside two other students.

Freddy has since started his career as an economist at the Office for National Statistics where he has taken significant steps to fulfilling his career ambitions as he currently leads the International Analysis Team delivering research on trade and cross-border investments.

“The knowledge and experience I gained as part of my degree has given a strong base to what I do now, and what I aim to do in the future. Skills gained through the university’s unique modules, such as Model United Nations, will play a key role as I look to one day move towards policy and/or diplomatic roles in government.

Freddy Farias Arias

Fiona Paterson

BA Politics and International Relations, 2015Fiona Patterson

With a background in science, politics and essays were a new venture for Fiona.

Highlights of her time at the University of Reading include interviewing the Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow; a public interview with Douglas Carswell; becoming the Head of News for Junction11 Radio; being invited to speak on BBC Berkshire Breakfast programmes about student views on politics; asking Alastair Campbell to record a jingle and talking Brexit; heading backstage with Festival Republic at the Reading Festival to interview music acts and produce media content.

Her favourite module was 'The Media and Politics' and she explored the effects of fictional US political television programmes on public perceptions of American politics for her dissertation.

Following graduation, she was successful in applying for the Civil Service Fast Stream and started on the HR Graduate Programme in 2018. Communications had been her passion at university and despite working in the HR profession, she found that her skills were valuable in a number of ways.

Since joining the Civil Service, Fiona has been leading on the gender pay gap and the total reward strategy in the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. This has involved working across all levels of government, writing public reports and managing responses from the media. She has also been leading on employee relations by negotiating with trade unions over pay and supporting departmental contingency plans for strike action.

“Opportunities are out there and all you have to do is ask for them. "

Fiona Paterson

​Learn more about our undergraduate modules

Covering topical issues and incorporating innovative learning methods, our undergraduate modules enable you to develop an in-depth political knowledge and relevant transferable skills.

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