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Alumni profiles

Andrew Brades

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Politics with International Relations, Graduated 2015

Graduate Auditor, Ernst and Young

Andrew took advantage of our great links with industry whilst studying at York, securing work experience in the Houses of Parliament and a summer internship at Ernst and Young, where he now works in a graduate role.

“It’s important to take advantage of the opportunities that are on offer to you as an undergraduate and at York there was so much to get involved with.  My time at York enabled me to secure work experience in the Houses of Parliament with Sajid Javid MP, as well as joining the Ernst and Young summer internship scheme. Here I experienced what it is like to work for Ernst and Young and the experience helped me to secure a graduate position for 2015.

The best thing about my job is the people aspect - it involves working in teams and forming relationships both with internal and external staff quickly. During my time at York I worked as a Student Ambassador, in this role I learnt to build relationships with a range of people- these are skills I am now putting into practice in my new role.

My advice to prospective students is to be passionate about the subject you choose. At York the wide range of topics that I could choose, as well as the ability to focus on the areas that really interested me was what made the course special.

Studying at York has been a fantastic base for my future career.  I have developed a critical thinking mindset and analytical skills which will be invaluable in my future career.  I have also learnt how to develop an argument based on research and to look at problems from different angles, as well as building on interpersonal skills - all of which will be transferable to my job going forward.”


Tom Youldon
Politics, 2003

Chief of Staff at Monitor, National Health Service

“Following a career break from HM Treasury, I now work as Chief of Staff at Monitor, the Health Sector regulator.

My time at the University of York remains a source of real inspiration. It has shaped my values through the public service ethos of the Department of Politics, the music and drama available on campus and the many different perspectives of the students. The academic emphasis on rigorous analysis and clear argumentation helped me build transferable skills and provided excellent preparation for the world of work. I particularly enjoyed the York Award, which gave me some useful examples to discuss in my Fast Stream interview.

I loved York. I think the University is grounded, fun and intellectually stimulating – all without over-pressurising its students.”

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Kate Rushworth
Politics, 2005

YouTube Audience Development Strategist

“Having worked as a documentary researcher and for BBC Worldwide’s YouTube channels, I now work for Google, in the YouTube Audience Development team.

The body of knowledge I gained at the University of York proved essential for my work in  documentaries – particularly when working on the Channel 4 series ‘The Rise and Fall of Tony Blair’. People tend to assume I studied Media at university, so reading Politics has helped me to stand out.

I would not be in the position I am today without the extracurricular activities that exist at York. I was Head of News at YSTV (University of York Student Television), where I oversaw the production of the news output and the coverage of the Student Union elections. I would advise current students to get involved in as much as possible while at university.

If you feel there’s no society that really speaks to you – create your own!”

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Gareth Knight
Politics, 2000

Freelance political and public affairs consultant

“Since graduating in 2000 I’ve spent five years working as a Constituency Agent for the Conservative Party, a year as a researcher at the London Assembly and six years as a freelance political and public affairs consultant where I work with all three major political parties on behalf of companies and organisations.

Some vital skills which I gained from my degree were the ability to thoroughly analyse public policy debates and the parliamentary system, and to look at issues from a wide variety of viewpoints regardless of my own perspective.

At the University of York I was actively involved in Student Union politics which meant applying the theories about politics to an actual elected body. My involvement with the Conservative Association and the Debating Society has also contributed to my current work in different ways.”

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Georgie Holmes-Skelton
Politics, Economics and Philosophy (PPE), 2008

House of Commons Senior Clerk

“On graduating from the University of York I was incredibly fortunate to be accepted onto the House of Commons Fast Stream, via the Civil Service Fast Stream. After starting my job in October 2008, I undertook a number of posts as an Assistant Clerk, including Second Clerk of the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee and Defence Committee. I was then able to gain promotion to Senior Clerk. I'm currently on a temporary internal secondment to another part of the organisation (working with the Estates Directorate), but expect to move back to Committee and Chamber-based roles in the near future.

Most importantly I took from my degree the ability not only to see all sides of an argument, but to clearly analyse and communicate such arguments. This has been absolutely crucial in my work. 

Whilst at the University I was a member of the Club of PEP and helped out with running the Careers Fair. This was a good opportunity to see the range of graduate jobs out there. I also held a number of part-time jobs. These instilled a sense of responsibility for myself and my career which was very valuable when I entered the "real world".”

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Adrian Hieatt
Politics, 2004

News Reporter and Video Manager at Absolute Radio

“After graduating from the University of York, I completed a one-year Diploma in Broadcast Journalism. Having worked at local BBC stations, ABC News, and the BBC News TV channel I was offered a job at Absolute Radio in 2006, where I’ve progressed from being an off-air news writer to being the station's primary reporter. I have reported live from major news events including Barack Obama's inauguration and Tony Blair leaving Downing Street.  I have also been involved in the station's entertainment content, including red carpet reports and celebrity interviews. 

The knowledge of politics (and economics) that I gained at York has helped me greatly in understanding the issues making headlines and in explaining them to the public.

At York, I was very active in the Junior Common Room (JCR), as well as taking part in a lot of charity events, starting up the James College 'Open Mic Nights' and entering a band in Battle of the Bands. I also read the news on University Radio York.  These activities helped me to gain a lot of confidence, and also to have plenty to talk about in job interviews!

I would advise current students not to worry too much about a specific job yet, do the best you can in your degree and it'll work itself out. If you know what job you want, focus on that, and aim as high as you can!  Politics applies to a huge different number of job sectors - for me, journalism has proved a massively rewarding profession.”

Christopher Swale
Politics, 2002

Executive Director, Goldman Sachs (Head of Bank Loan Projects)

“I lead a team of project managers and am globally responsible for a portfolio of initiatives that re-engineers trading and settlement processes relating to the bank loan product.

Whilst studying Politics at York I gained a host of skills, particularly: 

  • Critical analysis: being able to read or listen to what people say, analyse information and draw conclusions. These are skills learnt first at University in seminars and through reading/writing essays. When applied, these skills allow issues that are encountered on the projects I lead to be solved
  • Attention to detail: at University you learn that sloppy work leads to down-grading
  • Planning:getting assignments done on time, preparing for exams and juggling this with other personal commitments whilst at University have taught me the importance of prioritisation when I have lots on my plate. This is something that continues through life and is important to get right early on.

At York, I played College and University football and now I am captain and manager of an Accenture alumni football team. I was also actively involved in the Labour Party, holding the position of General Election Agent in the 2001 election. I am still involved in politics today.”

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Jonathan Williams
Politics with Economic and Social History, 2002

Independent public affairs consultant

“I work as an independent public affairs consultant, advising companies on their relationships with politicians. Prior to this, I spent five years in a medium-sized public affairs consultancy and before then I worked in Westminster as Press Officer of a Labour MP.

A public affairs consultant needs to have a strong understanding of parliamentary procedure; in particular, how Government interacts with Select Committees, All-Party Groups and campaign and/or stakeholder groups outside of Parliament. Writing skills are also essential. Student journalism is good training, as you need to be able to write a large amount of information quickly and in a style that others can easily absorb.

I did a lot of extracurricular activities at York and I found them all very useful when writing a CV. I was involved in the Debating Society, Law Society, Student Industrial Society (as it then was), Nightline and I was an elected representative on the Politics Board of Studies. It is very usual to be asked to give evidence of team-working, leadership and communication skills in interviews and I found these extracurricular activities helped me with answers.”

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Rory Broomfield
Politics, 2006

Marketing and communications consultant

“Through my degree at York, I developed the ability to question received wisdom and persuade with evidence. I was the Treasurer of the Conservative and Unionist Association and Chairman of the United Nations Association at the University of York. This provided the platform for networking, developed my ability to work within teams and presented the opportunity to put on events that delivered results and gave demonstrable evidence of success to employers.

My proudest moment at York was receiving my First Class Honours degree. As a word of advice, identify your strengths and pursue a career which uses them. My time at York can be summarised in three words; fun, friendly and freeing.”

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Tom White
Politics, 2009

Cancer Awareness and Early Diagnosis Project Manager, the Department of Health

“I'm on the Civil Service graduate Fast Stream programme and have previously worked in the Ministerial offices (as a Private Secretary to the Liberal Democrat Junior Health Minister) during the passage of the Health Bill. I have also worked in the NHS Equality Team and on some stand-alone projects which reviewed the Department and CQC's performance. I've been working for the Department of Health since 2009.

My current job covers being co-ordinator for an international cancer research project: leading a project to support GPs in diagnosing cancer; working on cancer awareness campaigns (you've probably seen the blood in poo adverts – that’s us!); being the team lead for skin cancer campaigns; and some technical work on outcomes indicators.”