Alumni interviews

Ferencz Thuroczy

Year of graduation: 2012
Editor, Communications Unit, Department for Intercultural Dialogue, Swedish Institute in Stockholm, Sweden

Why did you choose to take an MA in Middle Eastern Studies? 
I thought it would be a good opportunity for the future. My interest for Middle East springs from a book I read when I was twelve called “Behind the veil” by Jean Sasson. I later realized that the book is quite orientalist but I was only twelve and it inspired me to want to find out more about the Middle East. My dream was to go to Saudi Arabia and at fourteen I finally got to go there. Years later when I wanted to move away from Finland to study, Lund became the natural choice with its program for Arabic studies. Then when the international MA program in Middle Eastern Studies started in 2010 it was the natural choice for me.

What have you done after you graduated? 
I started working after my studies. Since then I am working with Sweden’s digital diplomacy towards the Middle East at the Swedish Institute in Stockholm. It means that we work with creating relations with the people in the whole region through different contact points. We expose people to information about Sweden. We do not necessarily promote Sweden, but we want to provide people with factual based information about Sweden. We work from the principle ‘show, don’t tell’, which means that we are showing what Sweden is already doing. We engage with people, we talk with them. Some people call it “public diplomacy”.

How did you find out about your current job?
One of my classmates sent me a message saying that I think this is your kind of job – and she was absolutely right!

What does a typical day at work look like? What do you do? 
My day usually starts out with going through my e-mail and then I log on to our social media networks: facebook, twitter, google + and instagram. I look at what is going on and if there is anything we need to take care of.  I look at results; what activities have engaged the audience and which haven’t. Then I have a lot of meetings, the Swedish way, and I plan for the future.

What helped you to find and get this job? 
I had unique skills sets I think, part of which I have gotten from CMES. I speak Arabic, I have a helicopter perspective on what works and doesn’t in different countries. I had an internship at CMES that helped me to get into social media and I was also an intern at Al-Jazeera. Both these experiences contributed to give me valuable experience when looking for a job.

What are your recommendations to other students that wish to pursue a career within your 'field'? Be unconventional! People tend to focus on things that are easy! Thinking about what kind of skills you want to gain is a good place to start when choosing where to go. Go to places that are challenging rather than going to places that are safe. Instead of choosing an organization in your city, try to go somewhere else to gain experience. Do not be afraid. We can all do this, but it takes time and courage.