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Anoshamisa Gonye: LLB Law – Chatham House

Anoshamisa Gonye profile picture

What degree course did you study and when did you graduate

I studied on the LLB Law programme and graduated in 2019. Then, I completed the LLM in International Development Law & Human Rights (IDLHR) in 2020.

Why did you choose that particular degree course?

Through my research into university courses, I found that Law was a good next step for building on the skills of research, reasoning, analysis, and writing that I enjoyed in my A Level English, History, and Psychology classes. Having grown up intrigued by the story of The Count of Monte Cristo, I was especially drawn to questions of justice and morality, which I learned are key themes in legal studies. I also participated in and won my local schools’ parliamentary debating competition and found the process of logical thinking and defending an argument challenging but exciting. Law seemed to present a good opportunity for continuing with this in an academic setting.

Once I was studying Law, I became especially interested in public international law and working in the think tank sector, but was still unsure of the exact issues I wanted to focus on. I chose to continue at Warwick Law School on the IDLHR course because it had a diverse range of modules that would offer me exposure to and engagement with a variety of relevant issues in the field.

Tell us about your employer

The Royal Institute of International Affairs, Chatham House is a world-leading policy institute with a mission to help governments and societies build a sustainably secure, prosperous, and just world. It is an independent, non-profit think tank that publishes research and is a trusted forum for debate and dialogue on themes ranging from the environment and society to international security and global health, and issues impacting regions of the world including Africa, Russia & Eurasia, and the US & Americas.

The Institute convenes government leaders, the media, academia, civil society, the private sector, and individuals through a programme of public and member only events, as well as private discussions held under the Chatham House Rule.

What was the position you were recruited for?

I started as the Corporate Relations Assistant in November 2021. I support the Corporate Relations team to steward the relationships with the Institute’s almost 350 corporate members. This membership base includes multi-national corporations, media organisations, NGOs, embassies, high commissions and government departments, and universities and academic institutions. Our team brings in unrestricted funding which goes towards maintaining the Institute’s financial stability and independence from government subsidies.

My role has varied responsibilities, ranging from general and financial administrative tasks to supporting account managers across our corporate member categories. I now also manage the relationships with our Academic Institutional Members, leading on growing this membership category, and developing how it contributes to Chatham House’s Next Generation initiative.

What attracted you to this position?

I was attracted to this position because I saw it as a good next step for learning new skills in an environment that I was excited about. Having held part-time research and administrative assistant roles across three of my four years at Warwick, this role seemed to be a mix of tasks and responsibilities I had some experience with but also new challenges for professional development. In particular, skills of stakeholder engagement and relationship management.

Throughout the interview process, my interest in the role was cemented as I got to learn about the positive culture of the Corporate Relations team and Chatham House in general.

What are the key skills you learnt at Warwick that have helped you with your career to date?

Key skills I learned at Warwick include clear communication in both writing and presenting, attention to detail, methodical thinking, and organisational skills. I developed these through my degree courses, part-time roles and society leadership experience.

What has been your greatest career challenge to date and how did your experience and skills help overcome it?

The biggest challenge I faced was dealing with rejections after graduating. It was especially challenging when I applied for the Chatham House internship programme, in the Communications and Publishing team, and got through to the final interview stage but did not get the role in the end.

At the time I was doing remote volunteer work, so I took opportunities to apply the feedback from this experience to the charity I was volunteering with. This meant putting myself forward for projects and tasks that I was interested in which I could then refer to in future interviews as concrete examples of how I put my skills to practice. I focused on my administrative, storytelling, and communication skills. In doing so, I also developed experience in stakeholder engagement and process improvement, which were some of the key skills the Chatham House Corporate Relations team were looking for when my current role became available.

What top tips would you give to students looking for a career in your market sector?

When I started looking into the think tank sector, one of the first lessons I learned is that there are more roles in this field beyond research. So, a top tip is to explore the variety of roles available in this sector and international affairs more broadly, including programme and project management, communications, publishing, events, fundraising, human resources, finance, and administration. Think not only about your academic interests but also the different ways in which your skills and aptitude can be applied professionally.

I would also encourage those interested in think tanks, research organisations and policy institutes to engage with the sector beyond reading reports. Many organisations have membership opportunities. Chatham House offers students and recent graduates membership at a discounted rate, which enables you to attend events, meet researchers and staff, and join a network of individuals interested in international affairs from a variety of professions and backgrounds. Along with attending open days and applying for internships, this gives you greater insight into the scope of what a think tank does so you can have a more informed approach when applying for roles.

What do you know now that you wish you had known when you were applying for jobs?

Be flexible! Especially as a new graduate trying to land your first role. Opportunities can arise in any form, often unexpectedly. For example, whilst I didn’t get the Communications internship with Chatham House, it was only a few months later that they reached out to me with the job description for my current role in Corporate Relations. Along with flexibility, I also learned to always put your best self forward. Leaving interviewers with a good impression can open opportunities you hadn’t considered before, but for which you could be a good match, so it is an important part of your search—and could shorten it!