Why did you decide to pursue your studies in PPE?
It started with a desire to embark on a life dedicated to promoting the public good. After the financial crisis of 2007-8, I quickly realised that economic literacy is necessary to understand a complex social reality. However, whilst economic knowledge is very useful, it is not sufficient; an appreciation of political issues alongside a holistic consideration of the role of institutions, ideologies, actors and constraints is necessary. I also enjoyed studying philosophical problems in school and personally reflecting upon them more generally, and I quickly found that studying Philosophy alongside Politics and Economics was probably one of the greatest choices I made.
Could you sum up your experience of PPE at Warwick?
The PPE programme was particularly well-organised and, even though the cohorts have grown larger over time, the course administrators seek to be familiar with individual students. Throughout my time at Warwick, I was taught by and/or learnt from impactful and influential scholars; nevertheless, there was still considerable room to question what I was taught and to grow independently – this is a necessary part of our development. Most importantly, I ended up doing a significant amount of work outside of and in addition to my course; as such, I’ll always remember and credit my days at Warwick as being crucial for my intellectual development and direction. On the course itself, I routinely interacted with numerous highly intelligent and impressive people, many of whom I continue to keep in touch with to this day.
What does your current job involve?
I recently joined the Civil Service Fast Stream on the Generalist scheme. It’s a four-year graduate scheme and the first two years consists of four six-month postings. My first posting is as an EU Exit Adviser in EU Exit Customs Policy at HMRC. The role bears directly on several of the most important questions surrounding Brexit. It would be no exaggeration to say that it’s an exciting, fascinating and intense job on the very frontlines of history in the making. Much of what I learnt and the skills I developed during the PPE programme have proven to be very useful in this capacity, especially in the sense of ‘seeing the bigger picture’ which is a key Civil Service competency.
How did the course, PPE programme, departments and Warwick prepare you for life beyond graduation?
Interacting with the other single honours and/or joint honours students that shared our modules was an integral part of our socialisation; critically understanding various peoples’ mindsets has proven to be invaluable in subsequent professional life. I was also surprised when the final year Gender and Development module from PAIS significantly challenged and reshaped my worldview which helped me better interpret and understand many of the very real, global experiences of social injustice.
I took the more mathematical options in my first and second years; this provided a useful foundation from which I subsequently studied for my MSc in Advanced Computer Science with Internet Economics at the University of Liverpool. Warwick PPE also helped cultivate a passion for my subjects and I’m hoping to pursue a PhD in the USA after having worked in the Civil Service. In fact, I’d never even seriously considered doctoral study before I came to Warwick!
Whilst Warwick boasts large and formidable Economics and Politics Departments, the Philosophy Department enables a very unique and eclectic character compared to other PPE programmes owing to the research interests and world-leading strength of the Philosophy faculty. The economic and political knowledge was useful in my writings for think tanks, media outlets and other organisations whilst also helping me to swiftly ‘see the bigger picture’ in my current job.
What’s the one piece of advice you would give to current students?
I’d always encourage people to be themselves and to take responsibility for their own development as soon as possible, not only during the programme but also throughout their lives. During various phases of and times in our lives, society often expects and tempts us to indulge in conventional forms of enjoyment but these times in our lives are opportunities to truly develop as people – to give just one example, I found that reading widely significantly enriched my thought processes, helped sophisticate my worldview and subsequently improved my writing.
What’s your advice for a student considering PPE at Warwick?
If you’re considering PPE at Warwick, you’re probably considering comparable programmes at other universities across the world and within the country. Whether you’re considering Yale, UPenn, Oxford, LSE, UCL, Durham, York, Manchester, King’s College London or otherwise, I can assure you that studying PPE at Warwick will be an excellent investment of your time. For evidence, you don’t need to look much further than the many fine alumni that Warwick PPE has produced over the years; whether it be in academia, influential NGOs, government, city law firms, investment banking, asset management, consultancy, accountancy or otherwise, we enjoy substantial over-representation in the numerous domains of our choice and this is likely to continue with the ever-increasing quality of each intake. Ultimately, this is because PPE at Warwick is unique – you will learn a lot and develop as a person here.
(Photo credit: McCoy Wynne)