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The fast track to the public service

Tuesday 26 November 2019 2:35pm

Reaching the end of a Master of Politics degree at the University of Otago, Ben Hay-Smith’s plan for 2020 involves working in Treasury’s Economic Strategy and Productivity team as part of their Graduate Analyst Programme.

Grad Profile Photo Ben Hay-Smith Image
Ben Hay-Smith, Master of Politics

Ben was unsure where to head when he left Christchurch Boys’ High School at the end of 2015. At school his ideal career had bounced around rapidly: from becoming an author and writing world-famous fantasy novels, to studying architecture and designing the buildings of the future, to enrolling in a computer science course and creating the next big thing in our modern, internet-centric world.

By the time he had to make a final decision about whether to pursue tertiary education Ben had narrowed his interests down to ‘making the world a better place’. This aim, and his natural inclination towards problem-solving, led him ultimately to study a Master of Politics degree at the University of Otago in 2019.

Now, at the age of 22, Ben is in the final stages of completing his degree and handing in his dissertation on the political implications of using behavioural economics as an approach to addressing climate change.

“As far as I’m aware this is an area of scholarship that is still very much in development. The literature on using financial incentives and behavioural nudges together to address people’s greenhouse gas emissions is relatively new, and that makes it all the more exciting. It feels like I am really contributing something to our public policy toolkit on climate change issues.”

“The best decision I’ve ever made”

Ben credits his success in landing a job at Treasury to the Politics Programme and the Master of Politics degree.

“I wouldn’t be in the position I am today without the amazing lecturers who have taught me along the way. I can confidently say that this is one of the most supportive, forward-thinking, and experienced programmes at the University of Otago – and likely the best Politics programme in the country.”

But Ben reserves his highest praise for the students who accompanied him on this journey through the Master of Politics course.

“I’ve made friends during the last year that I hope to keep for the rest of my life. I studied the MPols to upgrade my qualifications and delve deeper into the political issues I care about – and I certainly feel I’ve achieved this – but the greatest asset I gained was this incredible network of MPols graduates who’ll be out there making the world a better place alongside me.”

“Studying a Master of Politics has been the best decision I’ve ever made. To any prospective Politics students, my advice is to just give it a go. You won’t regret it.”

Find out more about the Master of Politics