We are excited to have Heena from KCLSU talking in her case study about working in student politics, starting conversations about the postgraduate experience at King’s, and working together with King’s Careers to enhance targeted careers resources for taught Masters students benefit.
My route to student politics
Hi! I’m Heena – I am a KCLSU VP for Postgraduates. I studied BSc Politics and International relations as undergraduate and at King’s, I did a Masters in Political Economy, so with politics being my area of study getting involved in the student union was a natural progression for me. Politics in general has always been a keen interest for me, the idea of working for bettering lives and experiences always fascinated me the most! Student politics is extremely interesting as there are so many things that need to be factored in for the betterment and development of a student that goes far beyond academic experiences. This is also what my position at KCLSU entails – ensuring each student takes away an experience of a lifetime during their time of study.
In terms of next steps, in line with my degrees, I always wanted to work at the United Nations or perhaps work towards becoming a diplomat. Although, I like to think of myself as a creative individual due to my profound interest in artistic fields. I am quite interested in filmmaking and do hope to eventually venture into the field at some point in life.
The diverse postgraduate experience at King’s
Something I’ve always said since I was a student is that Postgraduate students are a very diverse group of people – there are individuals who are fresh graduates, parents, carers, professionals, mature students – there is no sort of age bracket of (18-22) attached like there is for undergraduates. It is a great experience as you get to interact with people from all walks of life, you understand the subject from different perspectives and an incredible opportunity to network!
Unfortunately, my experience at King’s as a PG student got cut short due to the Covid-19 pandemic but the 6 months I spent studying on campus was remarkable. The studying atmosphere as a PG student is definitely different, it is a lot more discussion focused and not just a lecturer speaking at you. Everyone around you is very determined and motivated to gain knowledge, therefore it is very enriching to be surrounded by people who share a similar passion for a particular subject. I studied Political Economy so naturally, my coursemates, my professor and I were in regular thought-provoking debates about world politics, economics and philosophy which I loved. It was definitely a more advanced and more independent study based compared to my previous degree.
Enhancing postgraduate employability – my KCLSU project
As a taught PGT student at King’s myself, it was quite difficult navigating my way away from undergraduates and postgraduate research students, and finding something substantial for my level of education in terms of career resources. I felt there was a lack of those specific career resources for my needs, and wanted to work towards ensuring PGT students felt included, differentiated and attended to within our careers department. With the current job market, employability is a key issue – many students study for masters to appear more employable than their competitors so it was important to grasp this issue in my KCLSU project.
Reflecting on the challenges and what I learned
With a digital learning environment and everyone suffering from screen fatigue, it was quite a task to to get students to respond to our survey. The survey received around 500 responses, which was a decent amount.
A key highlight for me was realising that 46% of the students responded to needing a lot of help in deciding career options. One would think a master’s student who engages in a specific subject quite extensively would have a direct/clear idea of future career prospects, but this was not the case. This further drove me to work with King’s Careers towards establishing specific resources for this particular cohort – and we are happy to have sparked conversations and created exciting content, like a Masters career support page on KEATS as well as upcoming events on the Focus on Masters virtual festival.
Photo by Kyle Glenn on Unsplash
My advice to postgrad students maximising their time at King’s
I would definitely say to GET INVOLVED!! KCLSU boasts over 300+ student activity groups that range from cultural to sports societies and has something for everyone. PG students are often shy to engage as there is a common perception of these activities and events being for UGs only, although this isn’t and shouldn’t be the case at all. The union is for everyone and so are the societies. It’s a great way to deviate from academics, make friends, and just have fun!
Other than that, I’d say building relationships with your lecturers is the next best thing. They are extremely valuable figures who are always ready to help out in times of difficulty. It’s an added bonus if you’re on good terms with them!
We encourage every student at King’s to explore our extensive career support pages on KEATS, whether you are at the beginning of your career thinking, focusing on your options or taking action for your next step!
Fulfilling work to help others
Being in student politics is fun and fulfilling. I think being an officer this year I have probably missed out on the in-person fun that previous officers have had the pleasure to have. Being the voice of such a large student body as King’s Postgraduate students is not an easy thing but it’s rewarding in terms of having the responsibility of making sure each and every student is happy with their university experience. It has been a difficult and unprecedented year for everyone, but it makes me feel good that I am in a position to help students and make their life somewhat easier.
I think I’m also super blessed to have such a great team. It’s always tricky because you never know who will be in your officer team until after elections but my team have built a great relationship these past few months. We get a lot of well-being support from the union as well so emotionally I think it’s a very supportive environment.