Before studying MSc Human Rights, Tianhui Gao studied UK and European human rights law at LSE as a general course student. Here she shares her experience of finding her passion post-graduation and how it’s helped to develop her career:
After my study of Human Rights at LSE, I had a difficult time – I had great passion to do something, however, I didn’t know what kind of job would interest me and I didn’t have much money. With the goal to open up my mind to human rights in practice, I had an internship with the UN Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva. The six-month internship has made me very interested in detention issues. I further developed my interest and profile by visiting immigration detention in London as a volunteer. Having had both research and practice experience on detention issues, I became an associate in the detention unit of the International Committee of Red Cross, which is my first paid job.
The six-month internship in Geneva with the UN Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights was a great experience for me. I was exposed to a wide range of human rights issues, and I observed how human rights worked in a real world with complex politics and human sufferings on the ground. Moreover, Geneva is a good place for network and communication. I came to know many practitioners and young professionals who shared with me their experience of career development in this sector. The volunteer experience with Jesuit Refugee Service has offered me the opportunity to work directly with detainees, which opened up a new world for me. I then realised how rewarding it is to work directly with beneficiaries. It was not as easy and direct as it looked like, and it required a combination of different skills, for example of basic counselling awareness, stress and emotion management and perseverance. I was very determined to continue working directly with beneficiaries.
Throughout my experience looking for a long-term job, I think my interests and passion have driven me where I want to be. What’s more, networking is important to know the sector and specific field. Never be shy to reach out to people, asking for information, opportunities and advice!