From practising policy to a Politics PhD
My name is Dayo and I am a second year PhD student at the University studying Politics. I am researching how underrepresented members of the public in policy making (in the case of my research, Black and Minority Ethnic young adults aged 18 – 25) are included in the process of policy making. I also work as a teaching assistant for politics related courses in undergraduate and Master’s level courses.
My route into PhD has been an interesting journey rather than a direct path. It has been a process of re-inventing myself and following my passion. My undergraduate degree was in Economics which I realised quite early on was not for me so I did not particularly excel in this degree. After a year out working, I figured out what my next steps would be so I did Master’s degrees in Human Resource Management and Management Psychology. I did well in these courses. Doing a PhD was something I had previously considered as it was suggested by my academic adviser during one of my Master’s degrees but I did not pursue it.
On graduating, I worked for about seven years in the private and not-for-profit sectors in Learning and Organisational Development. The knowledge and soft skills I gained at university meant that I was able to progress in my career by successfully utilising these skills.
Whilst I had no academic knowledge of policy making, I began to get interested in policy making as one of my jobs gave me exposure to this field. I then started to notice the lack of diverse representation in decision making bodies of public policy. There were ‘hidden’ and ‘silent’ groups of people who were not getting involved in decision-making.
I wanted to know why this was the case and also find solutions that would increase representation in policy making so that their experiences of issues could be taken into account when policy is being made.
Transitioning from being a practitioner to being back in university has been great; it has given me the opportunity to have the headspace to read and articulate the issues I am concerned about. I am doing lots of reading! What is also great and a highlight of my degree is that my fieldwork - working with real people in the real world - provides the opportunity to design an approach based on academic theories and study whether it works or not.
Skills gained from the practitioner work, in particular project management skills (time and resource management as well as organisational), are helping me progress with my PhD.
Through my journey, I have hopefully shown that a route to doing a PhD in Politics does not have to be typical. I have also shown that political parties and elections is just one component of a Politics degree.
So if you want to be the change, a degree in Politics could be for you!
If you are interested in finding out more about politics, here are some links you may find useful.
Politics degrees in Manchester: https://www.socialsciences.manchester.ac.uk/politics/study/courses/
Career options as a Politics graduate: https://www.socialsciences.manchester.ac.uk/politics/study/careers-and-employability/
Information about how Government works: http://www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/
Information on the UK Parliament: http://www.parliament.uk/
How research impacts on Policy: http://www.policy.manchester.ac.uk/blogs/