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A ‘third half’ proposal for (prospective) Human Rights graduates

Ever heard of what a ‘third half’ is in rugby? If not, you are in the right place to find out! Basically, the two teams chill out together once the game is over, eating and drinking as friends. Being a former rugby player and a recent graduate myself, I am curious to answer the following question: once you exit university, can you reconcile job-hunting and self-care? Say, human resources and human rights? Follow me through these lines, and you will discover the answer with me! Also, you will find out why rugby fits into this question.

Before starting, you are probably wondering who I am, telling these sorts of things. My name is Nicolò Palmieri and I was a student in ‘Human Rights and Multi-level Governance’ ‘till a while ago, just like many of you are now. I graduated last July with a thesis focused on Humanitarian Corridors as a tool for reducing migrants’ deaths in the Mediterranean Sea and protecting their human rights. Humanitarian Corridors represent an instance of complementary pathways to protection for refugees, besides resettlement. My academic background encompasses a BA in Political Sciences and International Relations, with my experiences ranging from volunteering during high school to the more recent curricular internship at ‘Centro Astalli per l’Assistenza agli Immigrati odv’ in 2019.

Nicolò at his graduation ceremony

With that said, without further ado, let’s get started! Graduating can and will take you into the unknown. As it is common in Italy to take a master’s degree right after completing the bachelor’s, at the very end of it all you face an unprecedented transition period. There is not a clear way ahead of you anymore but the one you pave yourself. Such a scenario can make you experience multiple feelings. On the one hand, after graduation, I took some period of rest. It is important to rest a bit after an intensive time writing your thesis. Nonetheless, I often found myself looking for job vacancies, as I was really eager to start working. Despite this enthusiasm, I can now tell you that I started to feel pretty tired. You spend a lot of time looking for jobs, and it can be really easy to forget about ‘taking some fresh air’. Hence, I think balancing enthusiasm with self-care is crucial. On the other hand, I followed an advice I overheard while attending some talks with International Relations alumni: to do something after graduating and before getting a job. These alumni reported that recruiters in the IR domain do not like seeing some ‘blank spaces’ in a person’s CV. That is, it is better not to spend a significant period without doing anything. Thus, since graduating, I have participated in the 2021 International School on Migration by Lai-momo social cooperative and in the 2021 OSCE ‘Combating Human Trafficking along Mediterranean Migration Routes’ simulation-based exercise.

I would like to share some other tips with you as well. First, I find it critical not to focus only on education while still being a student. Recruiters demand soft skills as well as professional or volunteering experiences. I took part in many such experiences during my studies and, after informal talks with practitioners working in the field, I realised that they are really appreciated. Nevertheless, I am experiencing that persons having a professional background longer than mine are still advantaged when applying for jobs. Thus, I would recommend jumping into the fray of jobs, internships, or even long volunteering periods quite early. This consideration takes me to my second point. While applying for internships and jobs, I understood that recruiters often look for IT as well as editing and writing competencies. You can notice this aspect by going through the requirements or desired profiles of numerous job vacancies. Then, I believe it is essential to start developing such competencies as soon as possible. You can do this during your studies, for example. Finally, in my opinion, cultivating a networking mentality is highly important. If you network with professionals, you achieve at least two objectives. First, you increase your chances of finding a job; second, you exchange experiences to make the world a better place.

Wrapping things up, I suggest being proactive and open to exchanges, as I have come to believe they are the true recipe to self-fulfillment. Am I missing anything else? If you have got to this point of the article, you probably think so. Yes, indeed! What does rugby’s ‘third half’ have to do with everything I have told you? Well, it’s now time to disclose this little secret. Let’s imagine job-hunting and self-care as two teams playing a rugby game. People often perceive them as two rather antithetic elements. I instead argue that there is a need for a ‘third-half’ between them, for them to meet as friends.

Written by Nicolò Palmieri

Edited by Alex Frattin

Pictures courtesy of: Nicolò Palmieri


Nicolò is a recent graduate of MA Human Rights and Multi-level Governance. His thesis focused on Humanitarian Corridors as a mean to strrengthen human rights for migrants.


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