Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law

School of Politics and International Studies

Alexandra Marsh

BA International Relations | Graduated 2005

Photo of Alexandra Marsh

Can you tell us a bit about yourself, your background etc.
I currently work as a consultant for Pleon, a public relations and communications agency in London. Having studied for my A-levels I went on to read International Relations at Leeds, where I achieved a 2.1. Following my degree I took a year out, where I travelled and worked abroad.

What made you decide to do study International Relations?
I wasn't really sure what I wanted to do. I knew that I enjoyed history and was interested in politics, economics and the international arena (although had never studied these subjects) and International Relations seemed to incorporate these interests. I also knew it was well known at Leeds.

How do you think your degree has helped you with your current career?
It's definitely beneficial to be on the ball when it comes to current affairs. I have a good knowledge of international politics and it's great to have a certain level of awareness when working within the media. The writing and research skills I acquired whilst at Uni has also helped; PR requires excellent communications skills and completing essays definitely helped!

Did you have a favourite lecturer(s)?
I really enjoyed working with Michael Dennison. Not only was he interested in the same subject as me (Russian Politics) but he was immensely helpful during my third year. My dissertation focused on Chechnya, to which he was a great help.

I also enjoyed working with Neil Winn. He had a great sense of humour and I really enjoyed his lectures and tutorials.

Did you study abroad as part of your degree? If so, what did you get out of it?
No – but I really wish I did. One regret is not studying abroad, although having worked abroad post Uni, it doesn’t hurt as much.

What did you enjoy most about your course?
Getting to extensively learn about topics that you are genuinely interested in and having the professionals around you to help with that. Being around lecturers with the same passion for subjects as you was great when I was trying to write essays / dissertation etc. I also liked the intimate feeling you got from POLIS – felt a bit like school.

What did you enjoy most about your time at Leeds?
I loved the huge student community that is Leeds, as a result of having two large universities in the city. I had a lot fun too, made a lot of good friends (two of which I am now living with in London) which I think is important for student life. On a more sensible note, I knew it was standing me in good stead for the future.

What do you like to do in your spare time?
Like most students, I did a lot of socialising. Students have so much spare time, so I filled it with going to the gym, playing volleyball and netball, seeing my partner and frequenting Headingley(!).

I work long hours now so week nights are filled with getting in around 9 after going to the gym, cinema, quick drink etc. Weekends are like most 20 somethings, shopping in the day, partying at night and sleeping it off on a Sunday.

What is the funniest thing that ever happened to you whilst being a student?
Probably like most students, doing to the Otley Run. At the end of first year, we celebrated by doing it fancy dress. There  were about 25 of us and I finally managed to get all the way from the Three Horse Shoes into town! (Having made several attempts during the year and failing). The other would probably be when we moved out in third year and the roof in the hall fell in. Student houses; gotta love them!

You are currently working at Pleon UK.  Can you tell us about your day-to-day role?
I work in the Public Relations part of Pleon – which means we help companies with their reputation in the media (newspapers, TV, radio, online etc). This naturally involves talking to a lot of journalists which is always fun. It's hard to describe my day to day role as everyday is different (hence why I love the job, you never can get bored!). Some days are filled with reporting for clients (Zzz) and researching for new business pitches, some days I am out meeting journalists, others writing press releases for our clients to send to journalists. Highlights are probably filming with the Times Online at the 5* Plaza Hotel and going to Paris Fashion Week in September and getting to go backstage, interview the Princess of Thailand and going for dinner with the Thai Royal Family! And I’m going to Brussels in April for a management course, so there’s plenty of getting around.

What are your plans for the future?
I want to spend a few more years in London and Pleon to get more experience and get promoted. We're an international agency so I'm hoping to work abroad in a few years, either transferring to another Pleon or one of other sister agency.

Is there anything you would have changed about your time at POLIS?
Given the chance again I would have gone abroad for a semester, but since I went travelling after uni I don't regret it too much. But aside from that there’s nothing I really would change; I made a lot of friends, took part in loads of sports, helped in the society and came out with a 2.1. I don’t think I had anymore expectations that that!


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