Ben Rayner

International Relations and Politics, 2015

Ben Rayner

If I hadn’t had a degree in Politics my employers wouldn’t have even looked at my application. With the career that I want to go into, having a background related to politics is essential

Ben Rayner studied International Relations and Politics, graduating in 2015. He now works as a Public Affairs Associate for a US Biopharmaceuticals company in their UK headquarters, visiting parliament and debating policy positions with MPs as part of his job.

I’ve grew up in a politically active house and current affairs has always been spoken about at the dinner table. As I grew older I gradually became more and more interested in it, developing my own views. The decision to take a degree in Politics and International Relations at degree level was taken when I studied Politics for my A-Levels. I had a fantastic teacher who made the subject enjoyable and interesting; he persuaded me to get some experience working as an intern for my local MP which I did. Following that, I knew I wanted to pursue my interest at a higher level.

I visited an open day at Brookes with a friend of mine who was also considering a course here. To be honest I wasn’t actually interested in the university at the time – I just wanted an excuse to visit Oxford (which I had never been to before)! Throughout the day I started getting more and more interested in the university, it felt like a place which was on the rise and full of ambition. The staff were very friendly and the modules sounded exciting, offering options such as Counter-Terrorism (which I later wrote my dissertation on) and Central Asian Politics which I not seen offered at other universities. Following that trip I made Brookes my first choice University.

The friends I made here were absolutely one of the best things about the course. My year-group was full of some fantastic individuals – three of whom I actually ended up living with! Everyone just got on really well; we even created the Politics Society which brought us even closer together as a group, the highlight being our trip to Edinburgh in our final year.

If you ask who out of the academic staff particularly inspired and helped me most throughout my time at Brookes, without a doubt it has to be Rico Isaacs – the man is a legend of class 2015! He is a fantastic lecturer, who is clearly so passionate about what he teaches – that enthusiasm really is infectious, making you want to work harder and listen to him. The other thing which makes him stand out is the interest he takes in student’s development out of the classroom; he would always ask how you are and was happy to have a chat with you. He was very helpful in deciding what career route I wanted to go down and even recommended the website I found my job on and was my reference for my application. He is a true credit to Oxford Brookes!

As a student, what is there not to like about Oxford!? I will always have a soft spot for Oxford and have many great memories from it. One thing which Oxford certainly has is variety – yes it has a fantastic night life, being home to my favorite club ever (Purple Turtle), but that is not all the city offers! Whatever your interest, Oxford will have something which ticks that box.

Following graduation I was hired by US Biopharmaceutical Company Eli Lilly to work in their UK HQ as a Public Affairs Associate. It is a very cross-functional role which sees me working across Government Relations, Communications and Corporate Responsibility. It is a surreal feeling that months ago I was studying British Politics, and now I am visiting Parliament as part of my job, meeting MPs and debating policy positions with them.

If I hadn’t had a degree in Politics my employers wouldn’t have even looked at my application. With the career that I want to go into, having a background related to politics is essential. In particular my modules were of great interest to my employers, especially the modules in British Politics and American Politics given the nature of their business. My employer also loved my experience with the student radio station and how it was such an unusual thing to get involved in.

My role in Brookes Radio was the result of my wanting to do something which put me out of my comfort zone. I started off with my own show alongside my flat mate and gradually got more and more into it; In my final year I was actually running the station! Being part of a society was one of the best decisions I made and I had a fantastic time, my main achievement being our 24 Hour Charity Broadcast where we were able to get Alistair Campbell and Jess Glynne onto the show!