Sussex students feel the conference vibe

Three Sussex students on the MA in Corruption and Governance course took to the conference stage in the first week of May. Felicitas Neuhaus, Francisco Valenzuela and Michael Badham-Jones talked to policy-makers about the fruits of their own labour, a research project with the Overseas Anti-Corruption Unit (OACU) on civil society movements and anti-corruption. In this blog post Michael Badham-Jones talks to us about their experience.

“At the beginning of May we were given the very exciting opportunity to present the findings from a research project that we are doing as part of our MA in Corruption and Governance. We presented our ideas at the International Foreign Bribery Taskforce conference at the London Museum. Our research is looking into what effect civil society movements (CSMs) can have on attempts to tackle corruption. The prospect of presenting was a daunting one. And for several reasons. Firstly our project is still in a fairly early phase, so although we have a lot of questions we have very little in the way of concrete answers. Secondly the room was full of very senior members from organisations such as the United Nations, World Bank, FBI, UK/Canadian/Australian police and the Department for International Development (DFID). These two previous concerns mixed with the fact that none of us had ever presented to anyone apart from a group of our peers at university. Nerves were on edge.

Although the prospect of presenting in front of such people was a very daunting prospect, we all came away with a brimming feeling of pride over presenting to such an esteemed group. I would like to stress here that if ever you are to get the opportunity to present in front of such a room bite off the hand that gives you the opportunity, for me at least it is probably my proudest achievement in my four years at the University of Sussex. The opportunity to speak at the conference came about because of the exciting opportunity that the MA in Corruption and Governance offers in being able to do an internship. Our internship is with the Overseas Anti-Corruption Unit (OACU), a division of the City of London Police. The internship that they offer isn’t traditional in the sense that we are not up in the office 3 to 4 days a week, but rather as mentioned previously a research project. The beauty of this was that as a trio we were allowed to within reason pick a corruption related project of our choice, the only limitation being that the OACU and DFID had to have an interest in our project. As a result of requiring an interest we have for example had to include how useful CSMs can be to law enforcement.

In concluding this blog post I would stress that pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone academically is very rewarding, and the post-presentation response that was extremely warm and encouraging. The result of this was the offering of help and support from the United Nations, DFID, and perhaps most importantly some great exposure for ourselves. Our names were included in the conference pack under speakers, which considering all three of us are presently looking for employment post-MA can do no harm. Being realistic that this probably won’t lead to employment it still looks fantastic on a CV and I was able to use the experience just the other day in a cover letter for a job that I have applied for as one of the requirements was experience presenting and talking in front of large groups. University is all about seizing the opportunities that present themselves and this is a lesson the three of us learnt last week, I won’t lie to you at first we all felt too inexperienced and ill prepared to be speaking at such event, but after talking it through with one another we felt it was too big an opportunity to miss out on, and as such are incredibly great for to Sanjay Anderson Chief Inspector at the OACU for giving us this amazing opportunity.

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