Aleta Phelps came to Edinburgh from Alaska, drawn to the University by its excellent reputation and the city itself.
|Year of Graduation||2014|
Why did you choose the University of Edinburgh?
I knew I wanted to do my postgraduate degree in the UK or somewhere in Europe, and Scotland seemed like a good option—plus I had some distant family heritage from Scotland which I was curious about.
The University of Edinburgh offered a comprehensive International Development programme within a robust School of Social and Political Science. I knew I wanted to study this field, but hadn’t yet decided which speciality or geographic region I wanted to focus on, so this general degree appealed to me. I had also heard very positive reviews about the city of Edinburgh, itself, so I figured it would be a pleasant place to spend a year or more.
My time at the University was a most excellent one, apart from the rocky transition early on to finding a place for my partner and I to live near campus. After weeks of combat apartment hunting, we eventually found the perfect place, right on the meadows, with a spectacular view of Arthur’s Seat.
Around the end of the Spring semester was my favourite time there, when my fellow International Development students and I were completing our final classes, welcoming the summer warmth in the Meadows, and beginning to contemplate our final research projects before dissertation time.
Tell us about your experiences since leaving the University
Since leaving Edinburgh, it took me some time to find work applicable to my field of study. It seemed almost impossible for me to stay and find work in the UK, so I searched abroad. My partner (with the same degree) landed a job with an NGO in Laos, so I moved to Vientiane in hopes of finding something, too. I did a little bit of English teaching and volunteering to make connections, and later worked as a consultant for a NGO, helping establish an innovative regional sport for development program.
After this role seemed to peter out, I returned to small town Alaska to work in youth development, providing direct support to children struggling with mental or behavioural challenges, while coaching youth sports programs on the side.
Last year I moved to Yangon, Myanmar with my partner. Again, I struggled to land a job immediately, but after networking and practicing patience, I found an exciting opportunity working with a non-profit to support the realisation of adolescent girls’ rights and potential.
Around the end of the Spring semester was my favourite time there... welcoming the summer warmth in the Meadows, and beginning to contemplate our final research projects before dissertation time.
As with any further education degree, it helps considerably if you have a clear idea of what you want to get out of it or where you hope to go with your degree. Then, cater your education and networking around this, so when it’s all said and done, you’ve made the most out of the opportunity and can go on to do great things.