Faiz Sheikh

Arabic and International Relations

Faiz has developed a diverse range of skills thanks to his involvement in a variety of co-curricular activities alongside his course. He feels the business experience he gained through his Leeds for Life internship will be particularly valuable when it comes to pursuing applications for public service roles.

What do you hope to go on and do when you graduate from the University of Leeds?

Ultimately I hope to work towards a PhD but if I move straight onto a PhD course when I graduate, by the time I finish all I’ll have to my name is 21 years of schooling back-to back! So after I graduate I hope to do some public service, perhaps in the armed forces or civil service, save some money and then come back and become Dr. Sheikh!

What skills and qualities do you think you’ve gained from your course?

I’ve definitely developed my critical thinking skills as challenging existing ideas and prejudices and indeed the media is a must when studying the Middle East. Thanks to constant oral presentations I feel my ability to orate to an audience has improved or at the very least I am less unnerved by the prospect of public speaking. Of course doing a dissertation with POLIS has developed my independent study skills, time management, and research skills. Living in a different culture on my year abroad in Morocco has made me fare more ‘street savvy’ than I used to be – try walking into a Moroccan market and getting out with out spending all your money on a carpet you don’t even want!

What skills and qualities do you think you’ve gained from co-curricular activities?

Being Vice-President and Treasurer for the Middle Eastern Studies Society (MESS) was a particularly demanding experience for me as the society was brand new and there were no standard operating procedures for us to follow. Being on a society committee gave me valuable non-sport related teamwork experience and I had to show considerable initiative to get funding for our activities. Regular sports and exercise have developed self discipline, though I’m equally disciplined when it comes to eating chocolate. Finally taking a paid internship via the Careers Centre working for the Leeds for Life team, has been extremely beneficial for me as it has given me much needed business experience which I hope will lead to better job prospects.

How will these skills and qualities help you achieve what you want to do when you graduate?

Having some business experience, through my Leeds for Life internship, will really improve my chances of graduate level employment as it proves directly that I am able to work in an office environment, integrate with my co-workers and organise my time to deliver my projects. Being on a society committee has shown me that I can cope successfully with pressure and encouraged me to set my goals higher and higher. The critical thinking skills developed on my course will be invaluable in all of the possible career paths open to me, proving you can think independently and analyse existing structures is very important both in your studies and in employment.

What has been your proudest moment while studying at Leeds?

When the staff at the Arabic and Middle Eastern Studies Department gave the MESS committee members personal thanks and the department head gave me a book!

How do you think you have benefited from studying at Leeds?

I am a more confident and well rounded individual. I have developed a good work ethic and have benefited from all the skills sessions the University has offered. In other words I have learnt how to study well, and this has encouraged me to take up an MA next year.

What advice would you have for students just starting out at Leeds?

Join every society you might be remotely interested in and then slowly drop the ones that bore you! It’s much easier doing it that way round than waiting and joining in later years.

If you know you’re weak at, say, oral presentations then attend the oral presentation skills session offered by Skills@Leeds Library and address your weaknesses as you’ll never have a better opportunity to do so than at University.