"The University of Surrey reinforced my confidence to be able to achieve anything I want to pursue."
What attracted you to choose the University of Surrey and to study your course here?
My mother's friend had studied at the University of Surrey many years ago and had found the campus safe (I was from Pakistan so being away from home, security was high on our priority list). I had researched and found Surrey to be at a good ranking in The Times and Sunday Times University Guide so decided to study there. Plus, my interaction with Dr A Cronin was very strong and she inspired me to select Surrey, as opposed to a US Ivy League college.
What were the best things about your course?
The teachers. They were terrific. Dr Cronin inspired me to achieve more and think deeper and bigger, contemplate issues bigger than myself. Dr P Hodkinson was an outstanding personal tutor throughout my 3 years at Surrey and Dr K Bullock generated a great deal of interest in my future pursuit of policy-making and understanding.
How did you change as a person during your time as a Surrey student?
It was my first home away from home. I grew up there. I learnt to think as a true sociologist and got into psychology. I grew as a person too - with the University's strong guidance along the way. Most importantly perhaps, I grew to be an independent thinker through understanding my own background and cultural experiences. I also ended up meeting, now my husband, at University of Surrey. There are just too many things to love and be grateful for when it comes to Surrey.
What do you do now and what do you find most enjoyable about your line of work?
I currently work at the Royal Academy of Engineering. I manage programmes that fund engineers across the UK. There are so many enjoyable parts! I get to know about (and fund) some of the most exciting things that are happening in a range of fields from biotechnology to quantum computing! Things that affect our daily lives now (like smart technology and automated cars) to things that will influence our childrens' lives! I love working and collaborating with our Fellows who are supportive and inspirational as well as working closely with our Policy team who shape and influence policies at a parliamentary level to shape the scientific landscape post Brexit. I love that I have extremely strong female colleagues who also inspire, enable, and support me to succeed in my career.
How did your time at Surrey influence your career?
Coming from a very supportive family, the University of Surrey reinforced my confidence to be able to achieve anything I want to pursue (I took sociology with no background in the subject and graduated with 2:1 Hons). Surrey instils great values and strong ethics in their graduates and it's important to be proud of being a Surrey Alumni and carrying that prestige, self-belief, and honour with you when you start exploring career paths. Various events at Surrey reminded me of that from the Career Services to seminars. The University helped me realise my strengths and ability to understand a range of concepts so I started work at a scientific publication when I graduated. The publishing world is interesting but, after four years, it wasn't offering me the right growth in my career path. So, I decided to build upon my interest and (humble) background in physics to enter a completely different field. Surrey inspired me to be adventurous, believe in my abilities, and rely on my strengths to succeed.
How can students hoping to work in your profession make the most of their time at Surrey?
The University of Surrey offers a range of workshops, talks, advice, and networking opportunities. I cannot recommend all these things enough! They're free and extremely beneficial in polishing you off or give you guidance in you're unsure-even after you've graduated! Write for the various local publications such as the newsletter or the placement guide. Volunteer or work for the telethon to raise funds as it's a great way to hear about others who've graduated and their experiences might inspire you. Be adventurous and courageous initially and ambitious when the time is right. Don't be afraid to hold out for the perfect employment opportunity that will come your way!
What aspects of being connected with the alumni network are most important to you/of most interest to you?
It's the connection to the University of Surrey! Feeling like you're still linked to everything.
What is your happiest memory of your time at Surrey?
My very first day at University after moving from Pakistan. It immediately felt like a home away from home. In a completely new country, it made me feel safe and comfortable. Everyone gave me a hand with my luggage and directions to the right places!
Learn more about our degrees in the field of Sociology.