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Leadership in Action

The LSE Laidlaw Scholars Leadership and Research Programme supports undergraduate students to develop leadership and research experience beyond their academic studies, through practical training and reflection. The programme is generously funded by the Laidlaw Foundation and facilitated by LSE LIFE.

Hibah Rizwan (BSc International Relations and History) reflects on her first year as a scholar in the programme, and shares how a six-week, immersive ‘Leadership in Action’ project helped crystalise her career ambitions.  

When I started university last year, it was such a big change for me. Everything was so different. I was looking for anything I could be involved in where I could meet people, but also develop my skills. When I got an email about the Laidlaw Programme, I thought it was a good fit. I liked the fact that it gives you practical work over the summer because internships and work experience are so important. I particularly liked the emphasis on ethical leadership because I sometimes feel we don't talk about the ethical side of leadership and business as much as we could. I like how the programme incorporates that throughout.

I didn’t really know what to expect at first, as my cohort were the first from LSE, but I was really excited to start. It was nice to meet people from different disciplines who I hadn't met before and wouldn't have crossed paths with otherwise. I also wasn’t expecting to feel as supported as I was. Everyone at LSE LIFE was so involved; I feel like they know us personally. They really do believe in us being future leaders, which was good for me because I lack that self-confidence sometimes. So it was nice to know that they were pushing us a bit.

My Leadership in Action project was with Literacy Pirates, a charity that supports school children in Hackney and Haringey who would benefit from extra help with reading and writing. They work with them to improve their reading age through speeches, writing poems, and all sorts of things.

At the end of their programme, the pupils I worked with felt so accomplished – they were giving presentations, having their stories published, even their graduation ceremony included a film that they made, which was shown at a local cinema. I could tell they felt great about it, and it was really nice to see that direct impact.

Before I started my internship, I wasn't sure what I wanted to do as a career, but now I really want to work in government. Literacy Pirates ran quite a few workshops on how government policies have impacted schools, and I could definitely see how it was affecting the pupils I worked with. They even helped me relate it back to my own time at school in Croydon. All of this combined definitely pushed me towards what I want to do now: policymaking, or working in the civil service specifically.

I would really like to thank the Laidlaw Foundation and LSE LIFE. There are a lot of undergraduate programmes focused on benefiting yourself, but I like how the Laidlaw programme encourages students to think how they can help others as well. I’m just really grateful for all the different opportunities.