Home Interviews In conversation with Ms. Koyesha Mukherjee, Department for International Trade, Government of...

In conversation with Ms. Koyesha Mukherjee, Department for International Trade, Government of UK (Civil Service)…

Ms Koyesha, can you tell us about your journey from India to the United Kingdom?

I completed my schooling from Carmel Junior College, Jamshedpur from where I was honoured as the ‘School (Commerce) Topper 2014’. I completed my undergraduate degree in Economics (Bachelor of Science) from Loreto College, Kolkata in 2017 with the honour of being awarded the ‘K.N. Jain memorial Gold Medal’ for academic excellence, ethical conduct and outstanding contribution to college life. 

As a student living in Kolkata, I registered for library membership at the British Council in order to prepare for the next phase of my journey.

My journey in the UK started in September 2017, where I pursued my post-graduation (Master of Science) in ‘Development Economics and Policy’ at the University of Manchester. This was a course conjointly delivered by the Global Development Institute and the School of Social Sciences within the University of Manchester. I specifically chose this course as my specialisation since I am interested in global development and economics. I graduated in 2018 with a distinction in my dissertation thesis on climate change related financing.  This period paved way to my first full-time job in the civil service of the Government of the United Kingdom, kick-starting my career at a time and place, I am most grateful for.

I do acknowledge coming to study in the UK in 2017 as the turning point in my life that eventually opened a plethora of opportunities for me. It has been a journey of learning and growing since then. 

  1. You completed M.Sc. in ‘Development Economics and Policy’ from the University of Manchester and now work for the Department for International Trade, Government of UK. How was your experience as a student and as a professional in the UK?

As a student in the UK (and living outside India for the first time), it was quite overwhelming for the initial months. Familiarising myself with a new country, its culture, weather, food, system of operation etc. and meeting people from around the world, demanded a lot of courage and resilience. UK was my preferred destination over other countries as it was a time-efficient (1-year course) and budget-friendly. Also, I was interested in a particular subject area that was being only offered by universities in the UK. University ratings, staff quality and student feedback for the UK are very positive and widely acclaimed, which made me feel confident enough to pursue post-graduation from the UK. The overall experience was worth the investment.

My MSc degree trained me in understanding global endemic economic issues. The importance of data/evidence in analysing those issues from the grassroots level and forming/proposing a policy solution based on that evidence are some of the essential skills I gained through my study. I have been able to implement this theoretical knowledge into practice, in drafting the trade policy for the UK. 

My work revolves around ensuring free and fair trade for the UK with the rest of the world post its exit from the European Union. This has been a particularly exciting and challenging work over the last year as this is all being done for the first time in the country’s history with no set precedence to refer to.

 Learning on-the-job about the governance and bureaucracy of a developed nation has helped me reflect upon the governing structures of other constituencies in the global economic race. While I continue to imbibe more about British culture, I find myself relatively more rehearsed with my stay here than in the past, except for the weather!

  1. How long have you been associated with the British Council in India? How has the British Council helped you on this journey?

I registered as a member at the British Council Library, Kolkata in 2015 while pursuing my undergraduate degree in Kolkata. Being an avid reader, my initial purpose of joining the library was to get access to its vast collection of books and diversify my reading stock. Additionally, since I had already started planning for a masters abroad, British Council helped lay the foundation of that preparatory phase. From my consultations and engagements with the staff, I received helpful advice about studying in the UK. I then underwent a 5-day crash course on IELTS with the British Council to excel in the main exam. My sincere gratitude and acknowledgement to the British Council for helping me kick-start this unique journey.

  1. One of the key issues for students looking to study abroad is funding. How did you fund your studies? Can you share a few tips for the students looking for funds and scholarships?

By the time I had applied and received application responses from universities in the UK, I was, unfortunately late to apply for most scholarships in those universities and India. I had to resort to an education loan from an Indian bank to fund my postgraduate degree.  However, once I started with my classes, I took up part-time jobs within my university. I served as an ‘event ambassador’ and ‘student ambassador’ for specific university gatherings and events. This helped me to fund trips in the UK.

My advice to aspiring students would be- to chalk out your funding options as one of the first steps in your planning and research process of studying abroad. Most universities and courses in the UK have scholarship schemes available for international students. Similarly, a handful of government and private scholarships are available in India as well. The key is to keep track of their application deadlines and check for relevancy of your course, qualifications etc. This is a competitive and time-consuming process, but the merits of it are truly rewarding. 

  1. Is there anything about India that you miss? How do you overcome it?

India is home, and there is nothing that can make up for the joy and peace one experiences in their own country. That emotion is always going to be unmatched! The vast British grey skies and its incessant rains and cold winds, make me miss the warmth of home even more. Coming from a tropical country and growing up to soaking in the winter sun every morning, the weather in the UK is a sharp contrast. 

While the sun plays truant here, I bury myself into hobbies like reading, writing and listening to music. A refreshing stroll by the river Thames, a cup of hot chocolate in a quaint café, or a long, hearty chat through pixelated screens with family and friends back home; keeps me going from halfway around the world. 

  1. What would you recommend to the students who wish to apply for higher education in the UK?

One of the first things about studying abroad is to be sure about your primary aim/goal in life and then choosing the right course that will help you attain your objective. Clarity of purpose, willingness to toil extra-hard to achieve what you want to, are some of the essentials for a beginner’s guide. 

If you are keen to expand your horizon in a world-class academic environment, learn from leading global experts in your subject and engage with a diverse bunch of international enthusiasts in the field, then the UK is the place to be. The opportunity to delve into cutting-edge research or even to pick the brains of researchers involved in it is a whetting tool for those eager to learn. The diversity of the international student community that the UK attracts creates a comfortable camaraderie to tune into its rich culture instantly. Be it academia or networking; I can vouch for the fact that the experience is worth it!