Where Are You Now?

Helder Costa

Hélder Costa

BA (Hons) Business Management 2019

Sunderland graduate Hélder Costa has just landed a role as a Director of International Newcastle (IN), a local Community Interest Company dedicated to supporting internationalism.

Since he moved to the UK, Hélder has been an active part of the North East community and played a crucial role in representing the younger generations interests at a local, national and international level. He was elected Sunderland Students’ Union President in 2019 and appointed member of the Common Room of the Great North Youth Board in 2020.

Hélder, 24, said: “As Director I am a part of a Board that oversees the organisation, its legal and financial performance, as well as its strategic direction.

“IN is a local Community Interest Company and our role is to attract global opportunities to the region, potential international investment, and to support our youth in becoming global citizens.

“This last aspect of the organisation is, undoubtedly, what attracted me the most. As the global political stage becomes more isolationist, we must fight to remain an open society that embraces multiculturalism, internationalism and liberalism, and the only way to achieve this is by supporting our youth in grabbing all those amazing global opportunities that are out there. 

“So, in a nutshell, I like to think that my role allows me to play a critical role in making Newcastle a more global city!”

After secondary school in Portugal, Hélder decided to study abroad and chose the University of Sunderland.

He explained: “Sunderland is a very affordable place to live so I knew I could focus on my studies and personal development more than in a bigger city where everything is way more expensive.

“I also think that the University of Sunderland offers a very special relationship between lectures and students. I always felt I could speak with my lectures without judgement or fear and, especially during my first year, that proved to be a key factor for me to stay and finish my degree. 

“Regarding my course, I was really pleased it gave me such a general overview of Business. Essentially, I was able to see how all the pieces of a business come together to make it work.”

After graduating Hélder took a sabbatical year with the Students’ Union, a role that taught him so much.

“As a President, I had a very strategic position in the organisation. I had oversight of everything and that gave me some really good examples to talk about in interviews and job applications. But I also worked with some amazing people and had so much fun! I totally recommend this, especially if your degree is within the Human Sciences area.”

Hélder is no stranger to accepting new challenges and putting himself forward when help is needed.

The 24-year-old said: “I think that one of the things I have done that truly amazed me was my presentation at the NE Cultural Partnership Forum 2020. I was not supposed to be there, and I got called to present a younger perspective on Climate Change with a two-hour notice as a speaker drop out last minute.

“I was told that was a very chill crowd and I didn't need to worry about what to say. As I got there, the crowd wasn't as chilled as I expected. Amongst others, I had Julie Elliot MP, the Mayor on the North Tyneside Combined Authority, two local Vice-Chancellors and several other local decision-makers.

“I was not prepared to present anything, yet, I got on that stage and I just did it! I presented my view on Climate Change and how there is a Generational ‘Blame Game’. I used some humour to help me get through it and that truth is...by the end of my presentation, all those important guests congratulated me on my performance, I got invited to join the Common Room Youth Board and since then, I have been an ambassador to the involvement of the younger generation in the local and national decision-making.”

Hélder’s advice to recent graduates entering the job market is to take every opportunity they see.

“The likelihood that you'll find the perfect job right after graduation is really low. You need to experience as much as you can and meet as many people as possible”, he advised. “This includes volunteering, some remote jobs, internships...everything! The more you build your CV, the more employable you are. University is a tool...you decide how to use it!”

Talking about his plans, he said: “I am expecting a little boy so, I might put my career on a standstill for a year. However, I am currently working in launching a platform to support young people in accessing information about politics and international opportunities, and how to get started with a global career.”

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