Politics, Philosophy and Economics (PPE) graduate Danielle Lucas says studying at Otago was the perfect preparation for work as a policy analyst at the New Zealand Treasury.
Danielle, who also completed an Otago Law degree, says she was attracted to PPE due to its “wide-ranging content”.
“I really enjoy variety and it was cool to dip in and out of a number of different topics and then see where they overlapped – you’d learn something in economics and then go to a politics lecture and see how that information applied in a different discipline. Seeing things from different perspectives certainly has a lot of ‘real-world’ relevance now,” she says.
Danielle is now a vote analyst at Treasury, working on portfolios such as research, science and innovation, and economic development.
In the lead-up to the last budget Danielle and other advisors provided advice to ministers and other agencies on how money should be spent, and why.
“I like that my role covers a broad range of issues, which is very important for me, and I get to interact with advisors who might be outside my area, but who have important insights into the policy we are working on. It is interesting to see how advice I’ve contributed to is used to make policy and funding decisions.”
A highlight of her time at Otago was a six-month student exchange to Hungary, where she studied papers relating to the country’s transition from Communism.
“It was really interesting learning about huge upheavals in their domestic context, and seeing how that related to life now. This made me more aware of how theory, and change, relates to real-world issues.”
During her time at Otago, Danielle enjoyed involvement with the Māori law society and mentoring younger law students, and recommends current students “get into a range of activities, aside from studying.”
“I think these activities, combined with my studies, really helped improve my communication skills. Academic essays encourage you to have a detailed discussion about an issue, but this may not always work in a policy setting. You also need to get your point across–quickly and clearly. Volunteer work, combined with law and PPE studies, helped immensely in this respect.”