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Case Study: Fraser McIntosh

Personal details
Degree:International Relations Profile picture
School(s): School of International Relations
Year of Graduation:Nov-2012
National of: Scotland
Employment details
Organisation: The Foreign & Commonwealth Office
Job title: Deputy House of Commons Representative to the European Union
Occupational Sector: Politics
What has been your route to getting your current position?

After completing my undergraduate degree in International Relations in June 2011, I took the decision to spend a further year of focused postgraduate study at the University's Centre for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence (CSTPV). As well as allowing me to continue exploring my real interest in contemporary Political Science, this also provided some invaluable additional time to honestly and accurately assess both the graduate job market and where I wanted my first steps beyond St Andrews to lead. Leaving Fife in September 2012, I spent six months working closely with Glasgow 2014 Ltd ahead of the 2014 Commonwealth Games, before making the move to Brussels in February 2013. I undertook a six-month Stage (traineeship) at the European Parliament before spending the following couple of years working for two British MEPs. As of July 2015, I joined the Foreign & Commonwealth Office as a locally engaged representative in Brussels. 

What does your job involve ?

In theory, I provide briefings, advice and analysis to House of Commons Committees, Members and staff during Britain’s European renegotiation. I help act as the "eyes and ears" of the European Scrutiny Committee which examines EU documents and reports on their legal and political importance to the UK and my team represents the UK National Parliament with a wide range of Brussels stakeholders. The role also provides a liaison service with European institutions and other National Parliaments, and offers assistance when House of Commons personnel visit Brussels. Travel to various Member States and Strasbourg is commonplace. In truth, though, no two days are quite alike.

What are the best bits of your job ?
Quite simply - having the exciting opportunity to sample living overseas while working at the very centre of Europe's political hub. I have long been passionate about International affairs and being able to influence them - albeit in an incredibly small way - certainly gets me out of bed in the morning.
Why were you successful?
Many will tell you that top academic grades, an array of impressive work placements and knowing people in "the know" are the keys to success in the graduate job market. While all of these do - of course - play their part, I would say it is rather simpler than that. Know WHO you are applying to and WHY you are the best person for the job in question. Beyond that - perseverance, perseverance, perseverance. And a little good fortune goes a long way.
What skills/ knowledge from your degree have you found particularly helpful in this role?
While my academic background in International Relations has undoubtedly helped with the more technical and theoretical aspects of my work, I would suggest that simply having led a vibrant, diverse and extracurricularly active student life in St Andrews has proven worth its weight in gold. Being part of a truly global student body fosters so many transferable life skills that colleagues (and hopefully employers) will recognise as invaluable and want as part of their team.
What advice would you give to students wishing to follow the same path?

Never be afraid to cast the job-hunting net as far and as wide as you can. Many graduating students have preconceived ideas of where they think they'd like their first job to take them. As a result, they narrow their focus so much so that other opportunities (which could, in fact, be even more exciting) pass them by. Don't be afraid to look overseas. Don't be afraid of getting knock-backs. And when the door opens to that first graduate job, don't be afraid to walk through it.