I can can honestly say that I use my anthropology degree every day

Hayley Aikman

"I started as a graduate policy advisor at MBIE in February 2020.

Policy advisers essentially provide guidance and advice to the government's ministers on what national strategies should be put into place.

It's been really interesting learning more about how parliament works, and how decisions are made. My job involves a lot of reading, writing, and analysis, all skills that I feel confident in thanks to my experience doing Honours and Masters at Victoria University.

While things started off quite peacefully, I've since been moved into a COVID-19 response team. This has required me to step up and work alongside people who have much more experience and seniority than me.

Because of the practice I've had in anthropology, I can identify where pieces of the puzzle are missing, and comfortably and constructively identify potential blindspots of those around me.

Despite being the most junior person in many of these spaces, I've felt like I've been able to tangibly contribute to the work that is happening, and encourage others to think about issues anthropologically.

After not knowing what I wanted to study, I ended up in Cultural Anthropology at Victoria because I am passionate about inequity, and the School of Social and Cultural Studies provided me with the tools I needed to think deeply about how marginalisation in Aotearoa New Zealand manifests and plays out. This is more important than ever in the context of COVID-19.

What I learnt in my degree has helped me to research and highlight how the impact of coronavirus will be unevenly distributed, and look to the past to try to prepare for the future.

So many people asked me "and what are you going to do with that?" when I was studying. At work, I'm surrounded by people with all sorts of academic backgrounds, ranging from English Literature, through to Biological Science, and Economics. There are lot of us there from the Humanities.

Critical thinking, writing, and collaboration are all skills that are in high demand in many industries, and are all skills that are intrinsic to studying Anthropology at Victoria University."

Hayley Aikman graduated with a MA in Cultural Anthropology in December 2019.