After Kent – Catching up with Simeon Onaji

Many students have passed through Kent but what are they up to now? In the After Kent series, we talk to Simeon Onaji about his journey After Kent. Simeon studied BA (Hons) in Politics and International Relations between 2015-2018.


What do you miss the most about studying Politics at Kent?  

As someone that enjoys the fine art of debating, I have fond memories of fascinating discourses that I had with fellow peers in seminars across the arrays of POLIR modules I took during my 3 years in Kent. From assessing the merits of Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s social contract theory in my first year to debating Edward Said’s thought-provoking seminal work, Orientalism, in my third year – which remains particularly pertinent and relevant in our contemporary context. What I especially appreciate from my time studying Politics in Kent, is the efforts that lecturers put into anchoring the module content to meet the changing political landscape.  


What are you up to now?  

I currently work in the Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office (FCDO) where I lead on several multimillion-pound projects providing capacity-building support to countries in Africa, South America, and Southeast Asia. Before FCDO, I worked as a Policy Adviser in the Home Office, supporting the management of the department’s £500m of Official Development Assistance (ODA) expenditure in the areas of transparency, safeguarding, and strategic planning. 


How has studying Politics at Kent prepared you for the future/current position?

Studying Politics at Kent helped me to develop critical skills and knowledge that I’ve applied to my jobs on many occasions. Understanding how the political system operates, communication, and knowledge of the UN system are all valuable skills that have enabled me to progress in my Civil Service career. Modules like ‘Modern Political Thoughts’ embellished my critical-thinking skills, while the ‘Fact, Evidence, Knowledge and Power’ module for instance pushed me to learn how to use tools like SPSS which I leveraged to great effect as an analyst in the Department for International Trade. 


What advice would you give potential/current Politics students?

The old aphorism ‘university is the best time of your life’ is debatable, but the 3+ years spent at Kent will certainly be one of your most memorable experiences for years to come, so my advice would be to make the most of it. Beyond the routine of Politics lectures and seminars – joining one of the many societies that Kent has to offer is a great way to meet new people and make friends. The Model United Nations Society which I was a member of is a popular choice for POLIR students, but don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and try some of the more niche ones like the ‘UKC Hogwarts Society’. 


What do you plan to do in the future? 

In the medium term, I plan to continue working in the international/development space, leading on policies and programmes that deliver multiplier effect for beneficiaries, and value for money for UK taxpayers. There is nothing more gratifying than seeing the positive impact you make on people’s lives particularly individuals from some of the most impoverished countries in the world – so longer term I hope to continue contributing to development and prosperity outcomes for socio-economically disadvantaged populations. 


If you are a POLIR alumni and studied either an undergraduate, postgraduate or PhD degree with us and would like to share your story, contact us, we would love to hear from you!