After graduation, I decided to see the world: I moved to China. I worked for a year as a university lecturer in Hebei Province, six months as a Feature Editor at the Chinese Government’s Xinhua News Agency, and around seven months as a locally-engaged employee at the British Embassy in Beijing.
I returned to the UK in 2007 and worked for a Member of Parliament for a few years. In May 2010, after a year-long recruitment and vetting process, I started my dream career - at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO).
Within four years, I’ve been promoted twice and worked in four different departments (on conflict issues; Hong Kong; nuclear disarmament; and Middle East & North Africa). During that time I’ve: sat behind the UK nameplate at the UN in New York and negotiated the renewal of a peacekeeping mission; been out on patrol with the UN in the middle of the Saharan desert; helped plan the evacuation of British nationals from Libya; advised the Foreign Secretary on nuclear disarmament; and had the head of the FCO shadow me for the day!
I’m currently working in Middle East & North Africa Directorate as deputy head of strategic communications for the entire region (there’s more to it than just Twitter & Facebook!). I am going on my first overseas posting next year, hopefully somewhere in East Asia.
You don’t have to go to Oxbridge to get into the FCO. When I worked as the London-based Hong Kong policy lead, even the Consul-General to Hong Kong was a Leeds alumni. We are everywhere.
My degree at Leeds opened my eyes to world and other cultures, opened doors by enabling me to get my first job in China, and helped me gain the core skills to be where I am today. I thoroughly enjoyed my time studying geography, especially the field trips! I wouldn’t have wished to go anywhere else.
My degree certainly came in useful last month when I was debating with work colleagues whether the FCO’s maps should be based on the Mercator or the Peters Projection! #geographygeek
Follow Craig on Twitter at: @craigmorleyfco