After Heriot’s Blog

Next on the blog we have Victoria Song

Please get in touch if you wish to share your story ‘after Heriot’s’.

Victoria Song, Class of 2017

What is your current role?

I currently work as a Data Analyst at the International Organisation for Migration, a United Nations agency specialising in the issues of migration and internal displacement. My role sits within the Displacement Tracking Matrix under the Global Data Institute where I am involved in quantitative research and data analyses on various internal displacement projects across the world. Most recently, I am researching into how gender affects lived experiences among internally displaced populations within Burundi and Ethiopia. Another project I am working on is in research into the interrelationships between conflict, climate and mobility of internally displaced people in Sudan.

What was your journey to get there?

I was particularly fond of Geography at school learning about the fascinating world spanning both the physical and social sciences. I decided to pursue this in my undergraduate study at The University of Edinburgh. It was through the words of Foucault and more fondly echoed by Mrs Hughes that “knowledge is power”, that my passion for geography grew immensely given its practicality in the world of work. During my final years of my undergraduate, I became particularly interested in the use of technology and data in the inherently spatial and geographical dimension of everyday life. It was then that I decided to pursue a Master’s degree in Geographical Information Science at Edinburgh University.

In the summer of 2022, while I was finishing up my Master’s, I came across a vacancy at the IOM and decided to apply on a whim. I didn’t have huge expectations of myself if I’m being honest, and if anything, I applied to gain experience of the UN application process. Having miraculously passed the test, I was invited to the interview where coincidentally one of the interviewers on the panel was an alumni of the Master’s course, and so naturally the process went much more at ease. And here I am in my role where I am able to incorporate much of the knowledge and skills gained through academia in an international organisation as well as be challenged in different ways on a day-to-day basis.

What are your achievements?

Having only come out of full-time education last year, I am first and foremost proud of completing two degrees during the pandemic. During my time in higher education, I also won various academic awards, but I think my biggest professional achievement to date is working for the United Nations. I am most appreciative of the diversity of projects I’ve supported, the people across the world whom I have worked with and have great admiration for, and finally the tangible impacts my work has had on communities. My most notable contributions include reporting on the Pakistan flood events in the summer of 2022 to target humanitarian aid and partnering with the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research to publish a report shedding light on the climate change, conflict and migration nexus in Ethiopia.

What are your favourite memories of Heriot’s?

I have too many to choose from, but one that comes up to mind is the extra-curricular options that were presented. From girls’ choir with Mrs Lovell to the lovely Christmas and Spring concerts to the yearly summer CCF camps which bestowed on me opportunities to co-pilot a Grob Tutor plane. On top of that, and one that I definitely overlooked during my time at Heriot’s, is the striking location of the school. I have particularly fond memories of choir sessions in the music room at the top of the Grassmarket Campus building with glittering views of the central Edinburgh skyline and thinking how lucky we were to have had access to this.

Another important one is the sense of community and camaraderie that Heriot’s has instilled in me and my peers. Whenever we catch up, we still bring up and have a laugh about our time together at school!

Any top tips for current pupils when planning their future?

Try not to put too much pressure on yourself while deciding what you want to do just now. You have got time, and I would encourage pupils to expose themselves to a variety of wonderful opportunities that Heriot’s has to offer whether that be through interest classes or course-specific career events to find out more about the range of careers out there that aren’t just medicine or law! Whatever you end up doing, do remember Heriot’s motto of “Distribute Chearfullie” and consider giving back to school and society if you can. And remember to work hard, be kind and be happy in the process!