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Last year we met with prospective graduates from all three social sciences faculties of Rīga Stradiņš University (RSU) just before graduation. This year, we are inviting them back to a conversation to find out what has changed since we last spoke.

Many young people gain their first full-time work experience with the help of their family, friends or acquaintances. Artūrs Šakurovs paved the way to his work life while on placement. He spent three months at the Foreign Affairs Department of the Riga City Council as an undergraduate from the Rīga Stradiņš University (RSU) International Relations – European Studies programme. ‘Apparently, I proved myself during the placement. After obtaining a political scientist’s qualification I was offered work at another structural unit in the Riga City Council – a position where I can combine both fields I have good knowledge of: political science and sports,’ says the RSU graduate, whose position now barely fits on a single business card. He is the Project Manager of the Sports and Youth Education Institutions Division of the Sports and Youth Board of the Education, Culture and Sports Department of the Riga City Council.

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‘During the placement, my colleagues had already found out that I had grown up in an environment closely related to sports and worked as a referee for the Latvian Higher League. It was one of the things that led me to my current position.

The second thing, I suppose, was the much-praised hardiness I gained from studying at RSU, which has become a kind of brand in the job market. Thanks to having to write countless summaries, something well known to all social science students, RSU graduates are able to quickly extract the essence from almost any amount of information,’ says Artūrs.

He remembers an important task that he was given during his placement that was supposed to be completed in two days, because it involved a large amount of information that needed to be summarised. It took Artūrs four hours.

Crisis situations often shed light on our values, including valuing our education. Artūrs emphasises that even COVID-19 was not an obstacle for his former classmates to get stable jobs.

‘Fast-thinking, sharp minds capable of analytical thinking always have a competitive advantage in the labour market,’ he says describing the talents of an RSU graduate.

Although his current responsibilities are related to the national political arena rather than the international, Artūrs still starts his day by taking a quick look at Reuters and other international sources. His bachelor’s thesis was about developments in the South China Sea – processes that are geographically distant, but still applicable to us in a global context, as China occupies an increasingly large place on the global stage. ‘My three years at RSU have given me a lasting love of politics, both local and international. I think the same applies to my classmates,’ he says.

Artūrs’ day-to-day responsibilities include coordinating the activities and funding of various Riga-based sports teams, which includes 12 sports. He manages the sports fields near the capital’s schools – both very small ones, and ones as large as the 7,000-square-meter large Central Sports Quarter on Krišjāņa Barona Iela. They are managed by schools, but Artūrs and his colleagues in the department are responsible for maintaining the infrastructure and allocating funding for the development of the fields.

‘This job combines policy-making with my knowledge of sports. I feel that I am in the right place, as I can use the knowledge I gained at the university and elsewhere,’ he says.

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At the same time, Artūrs thinks that one should always continue gaining new knowledge, so he is looking at possible master's study programmes. He has not decided on anything specific yet, but he thinks it would be good to develop other competencies by studying regional policy and public administration, or management science on a postgraduate level. He has, in a way, studied management before when he studied navigation at the Latvian Maritime Academy, but now he would like to learn how to navigate regional organisations and companies. It would be a valuable piece in the puzzle of his skills and competencies that he can use for further professional development.