Joshua Jervis graduated from Leeds this summer with a degree in International Relations. He is now working in Leeds as a Threat Analyst with Maxwell Lucas. In this post he explains how his career interests developed and shares his advice for other students.
I am currently the Asia Pacific Threat Analyst for Maxwell Lucas in Leeds (part of Healix International). My role predominantly comprises of monitoring global news sources and identifying potential threats to business travellers, producing ad-hoc reports and special advisories on regional security threats and researching national issues from crime to health. I am solely responsible for setting the threat and evacuation levels throughout my region based on my knowledge of the country and my perception of whether the security environment is likely to improve or deteriorate.
I find myself using skills I gained throughout my degree programme daily. In particular, the analytical and research skills I acquired through my degree programme have been invaluable. The emphasis placed on independent learning whilst at university has also allowed me to be well suited to the autonomy I have within my role. I have been lucky enough to gain a role where I am able to utilise the knowledge I gained throughout university. As part of my role, I have the ability to travel within my region and develop my own specialisation in the regional politics of Pacific Asia.
Whilst many students go into roles where the knowledge acquired from their degree is not utilised everyday, the skills you gain through independent study and research are widely transferable and will be useful in any employment.
How I got my job?
When I applied to study International Relations at the University of Leeds, I had very little idea of what I wanted to do and where such a course could take me. The decision to pursue International Relations was based predominantly on my interest in current affairs and which course best suited my A-Level choices.
Upon graduation, I found myself applying for an array of jobs and graduate schemes and found the whole process bemusing. I spent the majority of my second year searching for summer internships, and the whole of my third year applying for graduate schemes. The fact is that I struggled to obtain a place on either and left University with little experience in the area of industry I wanted to enter. Whilst securing a placement, internship or relative work experience can be vastly helpful to obtaining full-time employment upon graduation; it is not the end of the world if you don’t secure one (as my story shows).
Within a week of finishing my exams, I found myself in the position of having two job offers and the ability to choose which career path I wanted to pursue. Applying for graduate schemes throughout your final year is a good way to refine your skills, practice tests and see what employers are looking for. I first noticed the role I’m in now advertised during my second year, kept checking to see if other roles would become available within the company and sent in my CV and cover letter speculatively. It became obvious to me that, when sending CV’s and cover letters, the worst a company could say was “No”. The application process for my role was firstly an initial interview, followed by a written report and a final interview. This is a method likely to be used for anyone applying for a role as a Threat Analyst.
In my opinion, if you cannot gain experience within your preferred industry, make sure you have some kind of work experience. My CV when applying for graduate jobs, and the role I have now, was made up of part-time employment that I had carried out throughout my studies.
Whilst working in a supermarket didn’t give me any hands on Threat Analyst experience, it did show my employers I have the personality traits they were looking for. This includes a good work ethic, timekeeping, reliability and teamwork to name a few. Whilst it may seem that such work experience is irrelevant, it does show you have such skills that make you an attractive candidate.
Experience can also include volunteering for local organisations and gaining real world experience through travelling. All of these will help you in any application process.
When applying for roles, make sure you demonstrate that you have a keen interest in both the company and the field in which they operate. As a Threat Analyst, I have the benefit of using my interest in current affairs daily. During my interview I was able to discuss contemporary issues, the regional security situation of certain areas and clearly show that I was capable of doing the job. Enthusiasm and a keen interest in your chosen sector will come across clearly in any interview situation. For me, a key part of obtaining my job was picking the right modules whilst at university. Having selected modules such as Security Studies and Comparative Politics of Pacific Asia, I was able to show both my own interest in the sector, but also my academic abilities in such sectors.
I know that, particularly in third year, I found myself in a panic over not having a graduate scheme secured for when I finished university. It is important to remember that graduate schemes are not the only option and that there is an array of jobs out there when you finish.
My role was not a graduate scheme and I have found myself instantly immersed in working life. I manage my own workload and have been amazed by the level of responsibility and autonomy I have been given. Some organisations within your chosen sector will not operate graduate schemes. Make sure you keep checking the opportunities available on the Careers Centre database and researching into the companies that operate within your sector.
Maxwell Lucas are currently recruiting, so if you think Josh’s job sounds interesting why not apply? Details can be found on our vacancy system.
We are here to help you with all stages of thinking about your career after university. Whether this be figuring out what you want to do, considering further study, help with applications, job searching, or anything else, talk to us to find out more about how we can help you.