Alumni Shruti Neelakantan: We are all environmentally connected

November 15, 2019

Continuing the alumni features as part of celebrating the 15 years of MESPOM, this week we follow the journey of Batch-9 alumni, Shruti Neelakantan from India who is currently pursuing a PhD as a Marie-Curie Fellow in Ireland. 

So what are you up to 4-years after graduating from MESPOM?

I'm currently part of the Global India project which is funded by the European Commission, and it's called the Marie Curie Fellowship. The project is spread across a network of six European universities and six Indian partner universities, and I'm hosted at the Dublin City University, at the School of Law and Government. I'm in my third year, and I’m doing my PhD on sub-national climate policy in India.

How did you get to know about this opportunity?

Interestingly, it was through my MESPOM classmates. When we graduated from the program, we were all helping each other out by sharing any new opportunities. I had at that point, been working in Mumbai for a year and a half, when one of my old classmates sent this opportunity to me. I wrote to the professor in charge and it all kind of materialised from there.

What do any future plans look like?

After the Master's it was really nice to gain some practical experience and be involved in projects with a more hands-down approach. So when I finish my PhD, I would like to see if there are any opportunities in the climate policy area that I can be working on for a couple of years. I am also considering teaching for a bit after I’m done.

Has the MESPOM experience helped you in any way in these next steps?

I think first of all, it provided me with a strong grounding for what I wanted to do next. During the program there were moments when I was sceptical about the applicability of all the various topics we had to study, but what I’ve realised is that you never know how these things can sneak up on you in the future. The program opened multiple doors for us, where we learned things which we wouldn't have necessarily chosen otherwise. For instance, I am till date referring to some class notes from our time in Lund, on literature review matrixes for my PhD.
The program also gives you a very valuable network. Many of the authors I have cited in my work, I am also in touch with through the network. It’s nice that they are not just authors you're referring to, but they are actually real people in your circle that you can connect to and exchange knowledge and ideas with.
Socially our batch is still quite close, we try to meet at every opportunity we get. Most of my classmates came to my wedding last year, which was in a random small district in Kerala, India; so that was very cool. We are all also very “environmentally connected” as well, it's great to have a circle of people who understand the literature and the kind of job you're doing. A community where you can exchange knowledge informally and support each other through the process. It’s also very interesting to see all the different positions we have ended up in through the years. There are so many different kinds of job opportunities out there in the environmental sector that we never even thought of when we were doing the Masters.