1) Where and what did you study and when did you graduate?
Oscar: I studied History & Archaeology at Oxford University as an undergraduate, graduating in 2005. I did a teaching qualification (PGCE) in Secondary History at Exeter University, graduating in 2009. I then studied for a Masters in Warfare in the Modern World at King's College London Department of War Studies, graduating in 2013.
Alfy: I studied Archaeology and Anthropology at Cambridge University and graduated in 2009.
2) Where do you live now?
Oscar: I currently live in Kennington, London. I moved here in August 2014, and before this I spent five years living and working in Luanda, Angola.
Alfy: I live in Luanda, Angola, where I have been living for the last three years.
3) Tell us about your job...
Oscar: I am currently self employed and have three jobs. Firstly, I am a travel writer. In December 2015 my latest book, on Equatorial Guinea, was published by Bradt Travel Guides. Secondly, I work as a political risk and security consultant, focussing on Lusophone Africa and Somalia. Lastly, I continue to work as an international educator, tutoring students privately in London, and more exotic destinations such as Moscow, Hong Kong and Singapore (via Skype)! As you can see, these roles link well with my passion for travel and interest in African affairs.
Alfy: I manage a small country office that operates tug and supply vessels in Angola. It is part of a larger conglomerate based in Hong Kong and partly owned by a family in London, which is how I first came across the company.
4) What did you want to be when you were younger?
Oscar: As a child I always wanted to be a palaeontologist. I was fascinated by fossils and loved trips to the Natural History Museum in London. Palaeontology is pretty specialised, so I studied the next best thing at A-Level (archaeology), continuing this subject on to university, but I could not see a pathway to a viable career in this field.
Alfy: A footballer, preferably playing for Spurs, but I didn’t mind too much so long as it was for a top Premiership team.
5) What did you do immediately after leaving university?
Oscar: Rather shamefully, I got a job at Domino's Pizza as a delivery driver, while facing a barrage of rejections as I applied for graduate roles at advertising agencies in London.
Alfy: I spent two years wondering what on earth to do and making my parents worry whether I was ever going to be gainfully employed. I spent some time in East Timor and Indonesia doing short-term and unpaid work.
6) How did you feel about your future when you graduated?
Oscar: I graduated at age twenty and had not given my future very much consideration at that stage. I think my main thoughts were that I had a degree from Oxford, so getting a well paid job that I enjoyed in a field of my choice should be easy. I quickly found out that this was not the case, especially as I had little idea what field I wanted to be in!
Alfy: Much like Oscar, I don’t think I gave it much thought, which is probably why it took so long to find a proper job.
Oscar: I would probably tell myself to come up with a longer-term plan than “move back into my mother's house and hope I get a job soon”.
Alfy: Do something interesting and don’t worry too much about how it fits into a longer term plan (sorry Oscar!).
8) Would you have done anything different?
Oscar: I think that my year immediately after graduation was completely wasted doing menial jobs in the UK. This could have been avoided if I had started planning my post-university life before I had actually graduated. In the end, and on a whim, I took a teaching job in Khartoum, Sudan, which completely changed my life. If I did it again, I would either have headed straight to Sudan (as time spent travelling and working abroad is not usually time wasted) or perhaps done some post-graduate study to use my time productively until I had a better idea of what I wanted. Also, I am sure there were some careers fairs that I should have attended, to give me an idea of which fields of work sounded most appealing.
Alfy: No. Not because I have done things the right way, but I don’t have any big regrets.
9) What inspires you?
Oscar: People who are passionate about what they do, regardless of their role. I am particularly amazed by many of the NGO workers and investigative journalists that I have interacted with, who continue to do their jobs and help others, despite the personal risks.
Alfy: New places and different cultures.
10) What would you like to say to our graduates looking for inspiration?
Oscar: I would say don't worry too much about what everyone else is doing. Graduate recruitment schemes are not for everyone. Also, if you do intend to go straight into work after your undergraduate degree, make sure you have a very clear understanding of the role (and the industry) that you are going into, as well as the work-life balance. Working long hours and working efficiently are two very different things, and your twenties are no time to be spent staring at a computer screen for twelve hours a day. Oh, and if you have no idea what to do, spend some time abroad, properly abroad, outside Europe, away from Western culture. There are all sorts of opportunities out there for those who take the leap.
If you want to be self employed, be sure to build your personal brand online, using tools such as Twitter and LinkedIn. Make sure that people searching for information about the field you are in are able to find you, and also check that they cannot Google anything you would not be willing to stick on your CV!
Alfy: Give things a go and you will work out what you like and don’t like.
11) Your three favourite words
Oscar: Surf, expedition, language
Alfy: Keep Buggering On
Follow and sponsor Oscar and Alfy's incredible adventures at Kayak the Kwanza, they're raising money for The HALO Trust, who work to remove landmines in Angola. Such an amazing adventure and for a very worthy cause. Good luck guys, we wish you all the best and thank you so much for taking the time out of your trips preparations to answer our questions!
If you are, or know, an inspirational graduate living their dreams, please fill in the form on the right hand side of this page. We'd love to hear from you!