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Case Study: Lindsay

Personal details
Degree:Social Anthropology and IR Profile picture
School(s): School of International Relations, School of Philosophy, Anthropology & Film Studies
Year of Graduation:Jun-2007
National of: United Kingdom
Employment details
Organisation: Survival International
Job title: Campaigner
Occupational Sector: International Development/ Organisations
What has been your route to getting your current position?

After graduating, I stuck around in St Andrews for a while working in Aikman’s pub and applying for loads of jobs. I applied for a paid internship with Survival International – after two very intimidating interviews they gave me the internship. It was supposed to be for 11 months, but after about three they offered me a ‘proper’ job, and that’s what I’ve been doing ever since.

What does your job involve ?

All sorts of things! The unseen work involves researching issues and keeping up to date with international and domestic developments likely to impact upon indigenous peoples’ rights. I spend a lot of time building and maintaining strong links with various indigenous communities. I also write a lot; letters, articles, press releases, briefing sheets and other stuff too. The trick is to distill vast amounts of detailed information into short, simple text that anyone can understand in a hurry. The most visible part of the job is dealing with the media; calling journalists who might be interested in Survival’s work, answering their queries, and giving interviews. There’s also plenty of photocopying and envelope stuffing to be done.

What are the best bits of your job ?

The most exciting part of the job is probably the field trips – to be flung to the other side of the world, on your own, to stay with a small community and try to figure out what on earth is going on is a pretty invigorating challenge. But on a more day to day level, it’s just brilliant to be able to speak passionately about people and issues so important to me. And sometimes – more often than you might think – I get to see the tangible, positive results of a hard fought campaign. That’s job satisfaction like you wouldn’t believe.

Why were you successful?

I was incredibly lucky to get a paid internship – a lot of people have to volunteer for a long time before breaking in to the not-for-profit sector, and who can afford to live in London without an income? Throughout my time at St Andrews, I was heavily involved in campaigning groups and was involved with the student union for a while too. I think this helped in the interviews.

What skills/ knowledge from your degree have you found particularly helpful in this role?
The obvious ones – analytic skills, time management skills and so on, have been really useful. Having a degree in anthropology probably didn’t actually help me get the job, but I think it did inform my perspective on the world and the people in it, which in turn led me to want to work for Survival.
What advice would you give to students wishing to follow the same path?
Don’t expect to get paid much and don’t expect to escape the tedium of an office job – no matter how interesting the subject matter, there will be days when staring at a computer screen for eight hours will make you want to run screaming back to the safe fold of studenthood.