Ulster University PhD graduate Aisling Swaine has been named as one of the 100 Most Influential People in Gender Policy 2021 by Apolitical. The coveted list honours and celebrates people of all genders working on gender policy and making the world more equitable, whether they exert their influence through policymaking, public service, research, philanthropy, advocacy, activism or however else.
Currently Aisling is Professor of Gender Studies at the School of Social Policy, Social Work and Social Justice at University College Dublin. Prior to her academic roles, Aisling has had an incredible employment history working with international organisations in humanitarian and post-conflict recovery settings and in global policy with the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs and UN Women headquarters in New York.
1. What has been your biggest achievement to date?
For me, the time I spent doing humanitarian emergency work, from 1999-2006, is the most important in my career to date. While not an ‘achievement’, particularly where the situation in a humanitarian emergency means that you usually have a choice between making bad or even worse decisions(!), nonetheless, that represents the most significant influence on me, my thinking and the career path I have taken since then.
2. What is your best memory of Ulster University?
I had a great experience at Ulster University and my PhD is one of my favourite things that I have done! I spent three years doing my PhD at the Transitional Justice Institute and benefited enormously from being around some of the best scholars in the world on the issues I was studying – particularly my supervisors, Fionnuala Ní Aoláin, Christine Bell and Brandon Hamber.
3. What are your top tips for students of Ulster University to get the most out of their time at university?
READ!!! I sound like a lecturer. But it is so true that when you get to study, absorb all you can from the resources that are around you, and the time that you have carved out just for study.
Also, go to talks and seminars on a broad range of topics, again resources that you might not get access to once you leave university. And make time for those coffees with friends and colleagues as they are an essential part of and enrich the study experience.
4. What advice would you give recent graduates?
Finding a job can be tough, particularly in the current climate. It requires resilience and an ability to stay the course where multiple job applications are now needed. The greatest advice I give to students now is to tailor each letter and CV to the job you are applying to – literally write it to the specific job requisition.
Working globally is incredibly rewarding and one of the most important things to do is to link in to networks for expatriates, people in a similar position to you, who will be become support as well as friends and ‘family’ when you are away from home
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