Policy advisor

A Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Politics and International Relations and a Master of Public Policy helped Martha Carrillo launch a career as a policy advisor.

Martha Carrillo

Key facts

Career: Policy advisor
Programme: Master of Public Policy
Subjects: Politics and International Relations

"I am currently working as a policy advisor at the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment. My team advises the government on petroleum and minerals policy. My job involves very diverse activities, from developing policy alternatives to particular problems, to dealing with external stakeholders, such as iwi, local authorities, and other government agencies.

"One of the things I really like about my job is the challenging discussions and hard questions we have to deliberate on in order to provide the government with sound advice. For example, trying to figure out what the policy intent was for decisions made over 20 years ago.

"Some of the highlights for me so far have been being able to participate in conversations with iwi around petroleum and minerals, and having a significant role in developing policy alternatives for the government to inform its decisions around New Zealand's petroleum and mineral resources.  

"My main focus during my undergraduate study was on political philosophy and history, which helped me to develop essential skills to critically question and analyse different ideas that have helped shaped the world we live in.

"Having the opportunity to do an internship at the Ministry for the Environment as part of my masters degree showed me how public policy is one of the many places where critical and analytical skills can be put into practice.

"There are so many different jobs you can go into with a degree in Politics and International Relations.

"The Master of Public Policy is a very career-focused qualification, and I decided to study this because I knew it could help me refine my area of study. I realised I wanted to become a policy advisor during my honours study; I liked the idea of taking part in the process of influencing government decisions.

"The most useful skills I've gained from my arts degree are the capacity to process and summarise large amounts of information in a logical manner, as well as to critically analyse a particular issue from different angles.

"To know how to think outside the box and have the ability to argue for or against a certain situation are essential skills for a job in public policy."