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Combining a career in law with public policy: Maria’s story

MSc Public Policy graduate Maria talks about how studying at Bath helped her start a career as a senior consultant in regulatory improvement in Peru.

A woman, Maria Merino, smiling while sat at a desk in an office.
Maria currently works with international organisations in countries like Germany, Costa Rica, and Peru; and also lecturers in regulation at several universities.

Maria Merino studied MSc Public Policy, graduating in 2021. She lives in Lima, Peru, and worked as a lawyer before becoming a senior consultant in regulatory improvement, advising government entities and international organisations on public policy.

She talks to us about how studying for her master’s has helped her develop her career path.

How has doing a master’s at Bath made a difference to your career?

After working as a lawyer, I wanted to be involved more with international organisations and work on projects that incorporated the application of public policy and delivered better policy for countries. Still, I needed to gain the depth of knowledge to do this kind of work.

Since doing this degree, more doors have opened up for me professionally. Now I am seen as a lawyer and as a professional who can work in analysing, shaping and delivering public policy.

I currently work with international organisations in Germany, Costa Rica, and Peru, and am also working on a project with the World Bank. I apply what I learnt on this course in my job every day and I now feel much more confident because I have the tools to deliver this kind of work.

Why did you choose to come to Bath?

As a lawyer, I already had a master's degree in law, but I had always been interested in public policy and began to realise this was an area I wanted to pursue further.

After looking at various options, Bath appeared to be one of the best universities. Professors specialised in public policy, and the research they were developing around technology and the applied value of public policy were topics that I really wanted to focus on more deeply.

What would you say were the strengths of the course?

The course was well thought through and everything I expected it to be. I really enjoyed covering topics in-depth quickly.

I also found the reading materials really engaging; I still re-read them now. They made me look at issues differently, and I’m currently applying the information daily in my job.

As an international student, I mostly studied online due to the pandemic, but we covered the topics in as much depth as we would have if they had been in person, so I was pleased about that.

It was a challenging course, and you must be organised, but it was worth it.

‘I apply what I learnt on this course in my job every day, and I now feel much more confident.’
Maria Merino MSc Public Policy graduate (2021)

Was there a sense of community on the course?

Everybody was friendly and supported each other; there was a fantastic community.

There were brilliant people studying, and we all came from different backgrounds, so everybody could learn from each other and share different experiences and perspectives. It was fascinating, especially as I was the only lawyer.

My tutor was also helpful and helped me to understand how to shape my projects. In addition, professors were always willing to share their knowledge and time, which was great.

What does a typical day look like in your job?

Besides working on projects with the Inter-American Development Bank, the World Bank, and other international organisations, I also work with government organisations like the Ministry of Finance and Commerce in Costa Rica and the Ministry of Produce in Peru. In addition, I am also a lecturer at several universities, teaching regulation.

So, a typical day for me often includes meetings – these can be with organisations to plan projects or facilitating meetings with Ministers and government officials. I also must produce reports, assessments or diagnoses, which can involve analysing, reshaping and delivering public policy.

I am also doing assessments of all policies for some of these government organisations to realise their impact - I then offer insight and ideas to make improvements or demonstrate best practice.

What are your plans and aspirations for your career?

I would like to have the opportunity to work on more international projects.

I work a lot in Peru and Costa Rica, which is excellent, but these are developing countries and face many of challenges, so I would like to be involved in more projects in other countries.

Alongside this, I would like to acquire more experience in shaping technology through policy, a topic that interests me. I would also like to study for a PhD.

Would you recommend studying MSc Public Policy at Bath?

Absolutely! I would definitely recommend a master's for anybody who wants to work in policy, especially if you are working for government organisations, as it will help you acquire all the skills you need.

For me, it was life-changing. It changed my mind; when you change your mind, you change your life.

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