MPhil in Development Studies, Master of Public Policy (Oxford)
From growing up in Wellington but studying in Dunedin, to winning a Rhodes scholarship to study at Oxford, to then working in London on Brexit, Iona Mylek might just be the model Otago Politics graduate!
Like many Politics students, Iona came to Otago planning to study History, but took some Politics papers and switched majors. Does she recommend studying Politics at Otago? “Go for it! It certainly challenges your views and teaches you how to really think critically about politics and public life, and sets you up really well for any future study or work. It's also really, really interesting – there are so many many fascinating and challenging courses available.”
Also, like many Otago students, her time in Dunedin wasn't all spent in the classroom. “Some of the highlights of my Dunedin days were the snowboarding trips to Wanaka, endless dress-up parties, nights out dancing, flatting for the first time, getting involved in great causes and societies, going to interesting public lectures, and talking about world issues with friends.”
For those nearing the end of their degrees, Iona shares a little advice. “I've learned not to be so impatient and to be more flexible in pursuing a career - when I graduated I wanted to work in international development and was really impatient to get started. But I spent a year working for the Politics Department, during which time I won a Rhodes Scholarship to study at Oxford. Since graduating from Oxford I've had a range of jobs, some in the area, some not, but all of which have taught me lessons and given me valuable skills.”
“I've learned that I can't control or predict everything - I certainly didn't predict Brexit – but it's also opened up new opportunities. I'm currently working for the UK Civil Service on Brexit, it's absolutely fascinating and by far the most challenging, and rewarding, job I've done.”