I really dislike writing personal statements. It’s not so much that I face a crisis of confidence around them (though I do): it’s more that I see them and I see this little box, and on the lid it says, ‘Hi, I’m a box, why don’t you hop in here and we’ll see what we can do about selling you.’ They feel limiting and they seem to demand a plan, rather than a willingness to explore what your options might be at any given point in time. I like planning and I am organised – but I also like to have the opportunity to see what’s happening just over there and what this fun new thing might be able to do.
I don’t think that people go into boxes as easily as we try to make them. And I think that the falling whale in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy encapsulates the problem: you can spend all your time trying to work out who you are and what your purpose is, and completely failing to understand where you are – and then you hit the ground really hard without having enjoyed the fall or established anything about yourself and your place in the world.
So I’ve changed the questions of a personal statement. From: ‘Who are you?’ to ‘Who do you want to be?’ From ‘What have you done?’ to ‘What do you do?’ and from, ‘What do you want to do?’ to ‘What would really get you out of bed in the morning?’ Because if you’re not enjoying getting up in the morning to go and do whatever it is you do, then you’re really just waiting for the ground to come up and hit you, and you’re not giving your best to a job.
I think we’ll end up in the same place, with the same amount of knowledge about me, but the process of getting there will be a whole lot more comfortable. You can read more here. But, more traditionally – here’s my CV.
In 2010 I graduated from the University of St Andrews with a PhD in Ancient History for a thesis entitled, Talking Politics: Constructing the Res Publica after Caesar’s Assassination which examines the constitutional discourse of Rome in the aftermath of Caesar’s death, arguing that the ‘unwritten’ constitution existed only in discourse.
2013: ‘The Corruption of the Constitution: The Lex Gabinia and Lex Manilia and the changing res publica,’ by Hannah J. Swithinbank published in Corruption and integrity in Ancient Greece and Rome: Acta Classica Supplementum IV (Pretoria, 2012) ed. Philip Bosman.