Alumni Interview: Kieran Watkins

What made you decide to come to Kent?

I discovered Kent purely by chance! The University had set up a stall at my sixth form college in Hampshire, and I remember speaking to a lovely lady who informed me about Kent’s great undergraduate programme in Journalism. Before then I had been looking at university options in London, but I liked the look of Kent’s Centre of Journalism for a number of reasons: the vast experience of the lecturers, the small class sizes and multimedia approach to learning. After an interview and visit to the Medway campus, I was sold, and made Kent my first choice.

For my Masters experience, again, it was all down to luck. I was fortunate enough to be offered a Kent 50 years scholarship to study for two weeks in Brussels. A crash-course in EU affairs made me fall in love with politics and the beautiful Belgium capital. I thoroughly enjoyed the taster courses on offer and was convinced that a Masters was a great career move for me. A year later I made the move and haven’t looked back!

What is your favourite memory of Kent?

Having lived on small campuses, first in Medway and then in Brussels, one of my fondest memories has been the close-knit student communities that make Kent so friendly. I have made so many friends through my studies at Kent, people from all walks of life, who have taught me so much and really shaped me into the person I am today. The diversity of the student cohort, and the professors too, is a real asset.

Another benefit of living on a small campus is that you can really make a difference to the lives of your fellow students through the vast volunteering opportunities available. I played an active role as a course rep, student journalist, library representative and student councillor for Medway, campaigning for positive change for students. These opportunities not only allowed me to forge new relationships with fellow students and staff, but they also gave me valuable skills such as public speaking and good planning abilities, all great attributes for my CV.

Would you recommend Kent to prospective students? Why?

If you want to learn in a dynamic, international environment where you can study, make friends, socialise and gain valuable life skills, Kent really is the best university for you. The teaching is very strong, and you have incredible access to insight and resources. The locations of the campuses are ideally situated, with plenty of attractions and amusements to keep students occupied, and close to important job markets such as London and Brussels.

How has your experience at Kent helped you since graduation?

One of the great things about Kent was the encouragement from all my professors to seek internships and work experience, in order to get on the job ladder as soon as I graduated. These opportunities, together with career guidance offered by the students unions, career advice team and schemes like employability points, helped set me up for work after both degrees.

Living in Brussels now, I am quite surprised at the number of Kent graduates working here. Kent really is a European university – there are so many graduates doing amazing things in the Brussels bubble. It always makes me smile when I meet a new Kent member.

What have you been up to since graduating?

Following my bachelors degree in Journalism, I worked for one year as a freelance journalist in London, predominantly for Sky News and the Mail Online. Looking to switch to strategic communications, I completed my Masters in Political Strategy and Communication, graduating in 2016. After a five-month traineeship in the EU institutions, I started work at my current company, a global public affairs consultancy. My role as executive associate helps to assist international companies with strategic communications support and advocacy advice on issues related to sustainability, such as energy, environment and agriculture.