Gaining expertise before embarking on a career in the UK Civil Service
Medha Bhasin (MPP 2017) is the very first recipient of the Duke of Cambridge Scholarship, which is awarded to an MPP candidate from the UK who demonstrates extraordinary potential as a future British leader. One of the youngest students on the course, Medha is learning new skills before she starts a graduate training programme in the UK Civil Service.
Medha’s interest in public policy began during her undergraduate degree in Geography at the University of Cambridge. “Geography as a discipline tries to deal with the most significant problems we face in the world in an inter-disciplinary manner, in the same way that a public policy practitioner can never look at a problem through only an economic lens. However, Geography offers a more theoretical approach to addressing problems, whereas I felt a need to go into the public sector and tackle the problems hands-on.”
After graduating, Medha gained practical experience of public policy while on the House of Commons Summer Diversity Internship Programme, then during a five-month placement with the European Parliament Development Committee. Seeing the positive impact that she could have in the public sphere encouraged her to think further about a career in the civil service, and she decided that the Master of Public Policy would best prepare her for the challenges of public sector work.
"What really stood out about the MPP was that it isn’t just an academic discipline; it focuses on developing skills to enable us to be the most effective policy practitioners we can, for example working on negotiating and budget analysis. It offers a systematic toolkit to be a critical and evaluative public sector actor whilst connecting you to a global community of practitioners."
Although some of her classmates have more extensive professional experience, Medha doesn’t see being at the start of her career as a disadvantage. “I really relish the opportunity to be one of the younger students, because I have so much to learn from everyone around me. It also helps being close to the student experience, because I know how to study for long hours. I can help the others with study skills.”
Medha describes being awarded the Duke of Cambridge Scholarship as a “huge relief”, since she wouldn’t be here without it. Her advice for anyone interested in the course is to go ahead and apply, as many funding options are available.
"I really didn’t think I’d be able to come here; I thought I was too young, I didn’t have enough experience, and I didn’t know how I would finance myself even if I did get it. But you don’t have anything to lose by applying, so I’d encourage anyone who’s even thinking about applying to just do it. You never know where you’ll be next year – you could be here!"