Grad Talk with Julia: life beyond the bubble

In this week’s instalment of Grad Talk, we turned to recent Jesus graduate Julia Cabanas for some blue-skies thinking on careers and ambition. Taking a pause from her busy schedule of sketching and model-making, here she gives us the blueprint on life at an architecture firm, what she misses about Cambridge and what her hopes are for the future. 

So, what do you do now?

I’m an architectural assistant at a young architects’ office in Highbury and Islington.

Describe a typical day.

I get to work at 10am. Usually there are team meetings in the office or via Skype with the Mumbai, Singapore and Amsterdam offices. Normally I work on a particular project for a couple of weeks. This has ranged from a small renovation on a local Victorian house to an entire campus masterplan on the other side of the world. Day-to-day tasks include hand-sketching, Photoshop collages, 3D modelling, model-making, detail drawing and compiling reports on InDesign. After a lunch break spent discussing the latest political blunders with my colleagues, it’s a solid few hours of design work. At 7.30pm, I leave the office – avoiding the London’s rush hour – and have a cosy night in.

What do you like about it?

Working in a small office means I get hands-on experience. I’m always up-to-date with the latest projects because the work often involves all hands on deck. As the office is international and multicultural I get to work with consultants from different design backgrounds, which enriches my overall understanding of the profession. Also, the directors are part time tutors at leading architectural schools, so meetings often have an academic or theoretical spin on them, which is always refreshing.

What do you dislike about it?

The hours are sometimes erratic, and I’ve had to reschedule or cancel my evening plans a few too many times. My office constantly enters architectural competitions, so the late nights and tight deadlines are accepted as the norm. It seems the undergrad practice of pulling all-nighters in the studio hasn’t quite finished.

Julia: “The architecture faculty felt like home, and Arcsoc was like a big family of open-minded people who all wanted to do something creative”

Continue reading Grad Talk with Julia: life beyond the bubble

Street style: #DressLikeAWoman

Following the Twitter backlash Donald Trump is facing over comments that his female staffers should ‘dress like women’, Girl Talk decided to take to the streets of Cambridge to ask our fellow students and citizens for their thoughts on gender and personality, dressing and comfort. 


“I don’t think there is one particular way to ‘dress like a woman’. I make a lot of my own clothes so it’s when I’m wearing those that I feel most comfortable. I made this jumper, scarf and hat. I love it because I make clothes for my body and so they fit better. They’re so much more enjoyable to wear because I’ve made them myself.”


“The idea of ‘dressing like a woman’ enforces gender norms on clothes in a dangerous way. It makes clothing restrictive, rather than allowing freedom. If we’re speaking normatively I suppose I do ‘dress like a woman’, but I feel most happy when I feel it looks good on me – not someone else.”


“I dress quite androgynously. For me clothing should be comfortable and prioritise happiness above all else. Clothes are a way to express yourself and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, even if there are people who say you shouldn’t care about your appearance. I love Tilda Swinton’s style because she always looks great – whether it’s a tux or a dress.”

Continue reading Street style: #DressLikeAWoman

What exactly does it mean to #DressLikeAWoman?

This week the President of the United States and Leader of the Free World came under yet more criticism for reportedly telling his female staffers to ‘dress like women’.

Naturally, a deluge of Twitter responses quickly followed with female doctors, sportspeople, soldiers, racing car drivers and even astronauts posting pictures of themselves to show Donald Trump exactly what women wear to work.

This was all an important reminder to check our inherent bias, and I was ashamed to feel even a tinge of shock from seeing a picture of a woman wearing such heavy-duty uniform or holding a gun.

However, what I immediately noticed was how slim the response from women in non-uniformed careers has been thus far. And this, presumably, because they really do have to #dresslikeawoman every single day.

Amongst the exceptions was the brilliant Caroline Issa, businesswoman and editor of Tank magazine, who posted a picture of herself in a lilac Alessandra Facchinetti suit and shirt combo with the hashtag #suitup. Similarly, this week fashion journalist Pandora Sykes wrote a piece in praise of her candy floss and fuchsia pink suits – ‘the perfect conflation of practical and fanciful, androgynous and feminine’.

Of course, this is all well and good for two women who work in fashion. Female-dominated industries are the most open to sartorial freedom as women dress to impress each other, fishing for each other’s compliments.

But what about in the corporate world where, as much as you may want to, wearing a lilac or purple suit might not be office-appropriate?

Continue reading What exactly does it mean to #DressLikeAWoman?

Grad Talk with Ruby: life beyond the bubble

For the second instalment of Grad Talk, we spoke to Ruby who recently graduated from Jesus with a degree in history. Now working for the Civil Service, here she shares her sparkling insights and pearls of wisdom on how to shine bright post-Cambridge. 

So, what do you do now?

I’m a civil servant, on the Civil Service Fast Stream.

Describe a typical day.

My day begins by squeezing myself onto the tube at 8.20am. The heady days of walking through King’s to late morning lectures are long over. Aside from that, no two days are the same! I’ve been to training sessions in the Locarno Room at the Foreign Office, attended select committee hearings at the House of Lords and I get to travel across the UK for meetings with regional teams. I’m currently writing a communications strategy for an exciting project.

What do you like about it?

I love working on issues that matter to people in the UK and around the world. It’s refreshing and motivating to know the work I do every day makes a difference to people’s lives. The Fast Stream is a great grad scheme; it invests a lot of resources in its graduates, which is pretty rare in the public sector. I’ve received a lot of training and exposure to different aspects of government, all of which will help me in the future.

What do you dislike about it?

I’ve only been working in government for a few months, so I’m still getting accustomed to all the different department structures and acronyms. It’s difficult; there’s a lot to learn!

What do you miss about Cambridge?

I miss being surrounded by so many talented people just doing stuff all the time. I found it so inspiring to see my friends putting on plays, starting bands, and launching new initiatives (like Girl Talk!). I also miss the beautiful things you can do at Cambridge. Go to the candlelit compline at Trinity: it’s pure heaven and afterwards you’re given mammoth strawberry tarts and port – much better than Cindies.

Ruby (far right): “Always remember there are options beyond typical grad schemes and masters degrees”

Continue reading Grad Talk with Ruby: life beyond the bubble

Why you need to go and see the Guerrilla Girls exhibition at the Whitechapel Gallery

I began this term by taking part in my College’s telephone campaign. In the middle of a Monday evening shift, after a series of voicemails and call-back-laters, I had the surprise privilege of speaking to a feminist activist from the 1970s.

‘I’m not sure how interested you are in feminism’, she said, before recounting how she had put her career as a history professor on hold to join a feminist cooperative in London. Over the course of forty-five minutes, she shared with me her conception of feminism, particularly stressing the importance of female solidarity. Remarkably, this retired academic told me that ‘Angelina Jolie’s feminism is good because she fights for others – other celebrities use feminism for themselves’. Has feminism indeed been appropriated for selfish means, a tool for securing a few more thousand social media followers rather than a collective struggle for equality?

In a world where some sisters do seem to be literally ‘doing it for themselves’, the current Guerrilla Girls’ exhibition at the Whitechapel Gallery is an important reminder that girl power is alive, kicking and ready to complete the fight for equality. Continue reading Why you need to go and see the Guerrilla Girls exhibition at the Whitechapel Gallery

Grad Talk with Saliha: life beyond the bubble

January is all about looking forward. So, for any prematurely fatigued finalists unsure what the next chapter may hold, Girl Talk decided to interview our recently graduated female friends for some career inspiration and general words of wisdom about life beyond the bubble.  For the first in our series, we spoke to banker-slash-baker Saliha, who graduated in 2016 from St. Catharine’s with a degree in Economics. 

So, what do you do now?

I joined the grad scheme of a small investment bank in October – it’s a rotational scheme with a big focus on equity research. 

Describe a typical day.

I get to the office just before 7am – we have a meeting every morning from 7:15 to 7:45, in which research analysts present their new research notes to others at the firm. I’m working on a small project of my own right now, so the rest of my day isn’t really too structured unless I have any other meetings. I spend the day reading articles and research papers, collecting and analysing data, and writing. Then I leave the office at around 6:30pm (with much-treasured lunch and tea breaks throughout).

What do you like about it? 

The people are definitely my favourite aspect. The other grads are all so lovely – we have a class of around 30, and we genuinely get along so well. There are a few who I really expect to stay friends with, regardless of where our lives take us. And the more experienced members of the firm are also great – my manager at the moment is so down to earth and friendly, and always open to giving me guidance, despite being intimidatingly intelligent. 

That’s another thing that’s cool about working here – everyone is so switched on, and so seriously good at what they do. You learn something new and interesting from every person you interact with, which isn’t something that you necessarily get at other offices.

Also, in equity research, what happens in the real world, especially within the political sphere, impacts our work a lot. It’s great to have that link to the stories that you see on the news that impact your own and others’ lives. Continue reading Grad Talk with Saliha: life beyond the bubble

Why Bridget Jones deserves her place on the Woman’s Hour Power List

Pass the milk tray. More than just a Christmas telly staple, Bridget Jones is a flawed feminist hero we can all learn a thing or two from. 

‘Bridget Jones Diary’, 2001.

The BBC Radio 4 Woman’s Hour Power List has established itself as a modern pantheon of female achievement and activism.

So, the inclusion of Bridget Jones into the list this year, which also included Margaret Thatcher, Beyoncé Knowles and Germaine Greer, created a small controversy, and not just because she’s a fictional character.

There’s certainly a case to say Bridget Jones is an anti-feminist figure. She is obsessed by her weight, getting on the scales multiple times a day. She flirts shamelessly with her lothario boss Daniel Cleaver, dreams of marital bliss with him and wears ‘sluttishly’ short skirts and see-through tops to the office in an attempt to achieve said bliss which she believes will be her happily ever after.

However, if we analyse her inclusion with the specific Woman’s Hour Power List criteria in mind: women who have positively impacted and reflected female British life in the past seventy years, then Ms. Jones seems rather excellently placed.

Most figures on the list are problematic in some way. Jenni Murray once said that Thatcher, ‘did nothing’ for women, as she got herself to the top but helped no women rise up with her. Greer is widely accused by third wave feminists as transphobic. Playing devil’s advocate, you could say that Beyoncé, a music industry puppet and media-trained machine who doesn’t write her own music and performs in revealing clothing, is hardly a role model for young girls.

It all comes down to that horribly overused word: empowerment. Beyoncé makes women feel like they can be comfortable in their own skin and that they can achieve anything. And before ‘Independent Woman’ and ‘Single Ladies’, there was Chaka Khan (and vodka). Continue reading Why Bridget Jones deserves her place on the Woman’s Hour Power List