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Meet our graduates: Davina Hill

Having graduated with an MA Hons in Chinese and French in 2015, Davina is now taking the Fast Stream through the Civil Service as part of a leadership development programme.

Davina Hill is no stranger to travelling, having taken a year between school and university to gain work experience in locations as diverse as northern France, Myanmar and Shanghai.

Photo of Davina Hill in China
Davina at the National Palace Museum in Taipei

After volunteering for a Chinese travel company while completing her undergraduate Year Abroad in Beijing, she moved to London after graduation, taking a job as a sales and travel consultant for an adventure tour-operator that specialised in Central Asia.

It was an excellent primer for what is now a very varied career, “allowing me to pursue some epic trips to far-flung places and meet people from truly remote communities. As a linguist I have always loved adventure… and the sales experience I gained has been a solid foundation for my career today.” 

Her next role, as a publishing assistant at a communications and public relations agency, offered her the chance to user her language skills in a different client-facing environment - this time in the energy and technology sectors, translating content and interpreting in meetings between Chinese clients and the agency teams - helping her further grow in confidence.

“I love the variety  and feel inspired by the people I work with”

Fast forward to 2018, and Davina is now a third of her way through a three-year leadership development programme in the Civil Service.

“As a Generalist Fast Streamer” - she explains - “I rotate between different departments and organisations within the UK Civil Service undertaking a range of policy, operational delivery and corporate services’ roles designed to develop a wide range of skill sets and competencies.”

“I’ve worked at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy as a SME EU Exit & Trade policy advisor in the Business Growth directorate, as a project manager for the Welsh Government’s transport department, and as a programme officer for one of the capital school building programmes at the Department for Education.”

“I love the variety in what I do and feel inspired by the people that I work with - people from all backgrounds and at all grades who are proud to be a part of the civil service. My experience of the civil service so far is that it really is incredibly inclusive, and it places huge importance on diversity in its workforce - changing with British society to reflect the communities it serves.” 

There's no such thing as the archetypal Fast Streamer

It was on her second attempt to enter the Fast Stream that Davina was successful, “so my advice would be to not feel deterred or disheartened if you don’t get through all the stages at first.”

In part, she can trace her resilience back to her undergraduate degree, saying “Studying in the School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures (LLC) definitely taught me the value of dedication and determination when it comes to languages.”

“Studying Chinese meant small study and lecture groups, and valued support throughout my degree. The lecturers and tutors I encountered were all deeply passionate about China and this helped motivate me. I enjoyed the variety of French modules available and again the frequency of contact time which really pushed me to improve my language skills.”

“Don’t think that there’s such a thing as the archetypal Fast Streamer or the ideal degree to join the public sector. We are all very different and bring a range of different, transferable skills to the table.”

Davina is one of a group of Fast Stream Ambassadors for the University of Edinburgh. If you’d like to keep up to date with events the Ambassadors are running for current students, you can join their Facebook Group.

Are you interested in studying Chinese at LLC?

The University of Edinburgh is the only university in Scotland to offer Honours degree programmes in Chinese. Suitable for complete beginners, you can take Chinese as a single honours subject, or jointly with one of 10 other subjects.

Find out more about studying undergraduate Chinese at LLC

I was drawn by how international Edinburgh is both as a city and a university and fell in love with the place the first time I visited. Edinburgh will always be my favourite city in the world – it’s an incredibly welcoming place and felt like a real home away from home during my studies.

Davina Hill, Chinese and French MA (Hons) graduate

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