Ashly is a Social Sciences BSc graduate, class of 2019. She tells us about opening up career options with the plurality of social sciences.
Hi Ashly! What were your first impressions of UCL?
Big! I think in the first weeks you have really extreme emotions – you go from highly positive and energetic to sensations of being overwhelmed but I think that is natural and you soon settle in.
The professors and the staff on our course have been really supportive. We get assigned a personal tutor in a first year and also we have a transition mentor, a student in their second year, who gives us tips about adjusting to university life.
Why did you choose UCL?
I chose UCL firstly because of its ranking and quality in education particularly in my subject – Social Sciences. Secondly, I chose UCL because of its location – London is a global city and there are so many opportunities here so it is a really exciting place to study.
My mum has worked as a sociologist and in NGOs, so I have always been interested in the discipline of social sciences, specifically sociology and psychology. I found the Social Sciences BSc at UCL quite unique compared to other universities because it had the core social sciences modules but we also have the freedom to tailor our degree. If you want to focus more on economics or politics or anthropology then we can do that. If you are someone who has a curiosity in a lot of things and it is difficult to narrow that down to just one subject then I think this degree is great for that.
What have you found most valuable about your degree programme?
I think the most valuable thing my degree has given me is my ability to think independently and to have, sustain and justify my own opinions. I think that is really important - it has given me a lot of confidence in myself.
Can you tell us about any work experience or internships you've done while here?
I had an incredible opportunity last summer, I got to do an internship in the Civil Service. I worked for seven weeks in the Department for International Trade as a Social Researcher Intern it was a very eye-opening experience. A professor on my course advertised the opportunity as he thought it would be relevant to social science students.
The majority of my work involved summarising long research papers and condensing them into a presentation to communicate them to policy advisers. I had to translate quite technical research for a non-research audience and make sure it was digestible.
It was a funny coincidence but I bumped into a classmate on my course in the lift on my first day – we didn’t know that we would be on the same internship. I think they liked our applications because of the plurality and the hybrid nature of our course.
Also on the course they emphasise the importance of research methods. If you know how to research and you have good methodology that is going to be the key to opening any area. I didn’t know anything about trade, businesses and finance but I know how to research and how to understand the logic that goes into producing a report so that enabled me to understand reports on topics I hadn’t previously encountered. I think the research methods aspect of the programme definitely makes you more employable.
I am applying for Master’s degrees at the moment. I am looking at Master’s in International Relations or International Development. My degree has given me the core knowledge to allow me to do this – the programme is so multidisciplinary it has given me the tools I need to explore different routes.
What has your experience moving to and living in London been like?
I think living in London I have grown a lot personally not just because I have been living on my own for the first time but there is so much culture and diversity. What I like the most is when the things you study cross over into your personal life. For instance, if you go to a talk or an art exhibition and it relates to something you have been reading about. I think that is quite unique to London it gives you the opportunity to link the topics you study to the wider world and I think that has definitely benefitted my studies.“
What do you do when you’re not studying?
I really like trying new places out. I am a big foodie so I love trying out new places and bars. Our campus is to the north of the river so I like to go south and explore a whole new area of the city.
How did you find living in UCL accommodation?
I lived in Ifor Evans Hall which is on Camden Road. It turned out to be one of the best experiences, I met brilliant people there and it had a great atmosphere. I am actually really nostalgic about my time in halls – they were good times!
What would you say to somebody thinking of applying to the IOE to study your course?
Do not hesitate. I have had a constructive and fulfilling experience studying the Social Sciences BSc at UCL!