Jodi Kiang, Individual Giving Manager (legacies) at Diabetes UK
"Everyone asks you, doing this course, 'Are you going to be a vicar?', but I did it for the love of the subject. The rest fell into place."
"From a very young age, I was passionate about right and wrong and justice and injustice. I’d done philosophy at school and also really loved RE and talking about those big questions that you can’t always find the answers to.
I did a summer school at Oxford when I was doing my A levels. There were lots of different subjects, but I wanted to try theology because I thought it would be like RE. It was way more interesting than I thought.
Theology is a bit of history, it’s lots of writing skills, but it’s also religion as well. It brings lots of different disciplines together.
I found out you can do it with philosophy. I did this introductory logic lecture which I thought was really interesting because it’s like maths, and I was doing history, maths and philosophy for my A levels!"
Why did you choose a joint honours course?
"I wanted to keep things flexible and interesting, and give myself some options. It’s been really helpful, as it’s taught me how to write in different styles and manage workloads that are competing for deadlines. I’m really grateful I did it."
The highlight for me was being able to create my own degree. There was so much more freedom of choice, so I could really pick the things I loved. I did do a lot of ethics from the philosophy side, and I picked modules that had that ethical conversation going on, but also with a real focus on Biblical studies, which is the other part I was interested in.
What are the main skills that you gained?
"Definitely managing different projects and time management. But then also writing. For philosophy, they want you to think and write and reference in one way, and in theology it was completely different. Every time you had to write an essay, you had to get into the mindset of that particular project. That’s been helpful as I can switch between audiences, change my writing style and be flexible.
One of the modules that I did in my final year was called ‘Communicating Philosophy’. The purpose of the module was to take a philosophical argument and learn it. Then, people from different careers were invited to come in to do a lecture and talk to you about their jobs. There was a teacher, a journalist, someone applying for a grant...all different things. We had a week to go away and do a lesson plan, or article or grant report, using the knowledge we had. It was one of the most helpful modules I did."
The practical application was super helpful. I think about it all the time. It’s like, ‘What’s my audience, who am I writing for, who am I targeting?’. Marketing is a big part of the role I do now and that’s so important.
Any staff shout-outs?
"Carly Crouch, I did my dissertation with her. She was great; really helpful. I just really enjoyed learning from her and listening to her. Also, my personal tutor was Andy Fisher, from the philosophy department. He’s just such a nice guy. There was a point when I was having a really tough time and he was so kind and understanding. I really appreciated that."
What was the best part of your course?
"I loved just listening to other people’s ideas and seeing the world from different perspectives.
I did my dissertation on the Old Testament and the death penalty. People use arguments from the Old Testament to say that the death penalty is justified, like ‘An eye for an eye’, but when we look at ancient societies, did they actually use the death penalty in the way the Old Testament says? What can we learn from how they used it?"
It was fascinating to me that there are still things we can learn from centuries ago, and put that into context for today.
Were you part of any societies?
"During my first year I was in Revival Gospel Choir. I loved it. That year we won University Gospel Choir of the Year. We got to do this competition – it was exactly like being in Sister Act 2! That was one of my university highlights.
I was also team leader for one of the events teams for the Christian Union. It was for one of the outreach projects that we do, called ‘Big Questions’. I ran the team that did that. It’s actually the experience that made me be like, ‘Oh, can I be an events planner and make money from it?’. Before that I had no desire to be an events planner. I hadn’t really thought about it. I gave it a go and then loved it.
I thought it was a good opportunity to work on public speaking as well, as you had to present the event when people came."
I would try to get speakers to come, work with the Students' Union to get rooms and equipment – it was project managing, basically, and working with volunteers. And that’s been what I’ve gone on to do since leaving uni. It was like the perfect training ground.
Did you do any volunteering, or extracurricular opportunities?
"I did Philosophy in schools. We went into a primary school and did some philosophy sessions with some kids. It was really fun. Philosophy is everywhere, you don’t just sit in a symposium and chat about these big things. Kids are asking questions all the time that are helping them to form a view of society, the world, culture, right and wrong. So it was really fun to take these big concepts and make them more simple, with the understanding that these questions have a bigger impact on our view of the world."
Did you always know what you wanted to do as a career?
"I didn’t go in like, ‘I want to work for a charity’. It comes from a sense of, as a person, what do I care about? That’s why I did my degree and that’s also what’s impacted my career choice.
I thought I wanted to be a teacher. I did some work experience separate from uni, and I really enjoyed it but I just thought I can be a teacher later down the line. But I’ve never reached that point! I got an internship with Cancer Research UK and I’ve been in the charity sector ever since."
What I enjoy the most about my job is knowing that my work isn't just to make profit. The work I do has an impact on something greater.
What does ‘success’ look like to you?
"The world has a picture of ‘success’ but it’s not very fulfilling. Doing something that you love and being fulfilled and content – real contentment is peace and happiness and wellbeing – I think that’s success. Not just settling, but having that wholeness of contentment."
Jodi's advice on choosing a degree
- "Don't be afraid to do what you love. There are some long nights in the library if you don’t love it!
- I didn’t have a plan, but I found my feet and it’s been fun. It’s the skills that you learn, rather than the subject knowledge itself, that sets you up"