Sam Ridgeway

Sam Ridgeway, Class of 2016

Major: Biology, Film and New Media

Current Role: Creative freelancer

Current Location, London, UK

Home Country: UK

Everyone’s Journey Is Different

Sam Ridgeway, Class of 2016, opens up about going through a “difficult period” after NYUAD and why he wants other alumni to know about it.

NYUAD: Nice to see you again, Sam.

Sam Ridgeway: Hello!

NYUAD: Where has life beyond Saadiyat taken you?

After graduation I went to NYU Shanghai for one year to teach biology as a global academic fellow. Shanghai was fantastic, I really enjoyed it. Then I came back to the UK and went through a difficult period. 

NYUAD: What do you mean by difficult?

I had a year that wasn’t easy. I remember coming back to the UK with this amazing degree, international friends, and all these incredible experiences but some people just see that you have a bachelor’s. They don’t know the depth of it. 

I really needed a job. So I started working retail at Marks & Spencer. It was actually a fantastic experience that really grounded me. The people there are great.

NYUAD: Why do you want people to know this part of your story?

I think it’s important to talk about it, to not shy away from the reality of my experience. NYU Abu Dhabi is a fantastic institution. It’s what education should be. But it’s tough coming out of it.

Some students get to be Rhodes scholars or work at JP Morgan and that’s really cool and prestigious. There are also others who don’t get a job right away and need time to reflect, or who work hard in retail jobs to fund future opportunities, or who become teachers and contribute to their local communities. Everyone’s journey is different and equally worthy.

NYUAD: When do you feel like things started to look up for you?

About three years after NYUAD, I started a Master’s in Science Communication at the University of the West of England, Bristol, while continuing to work part-time at M&S. During my master’s, the head of Atlantic Productions, Anthony Geffen, was teaching a J-Term in London. I met him at an alumni event, got his business card, and spent the next few months bugging his PA for a meeting.

If you’re having a tough time, talk to friends and alumni and you’ll realize that everyone is going through a process and their own challenges.

Sam Ridgeway, Class of 2016

NYUAD: Did your persistence pay off?

Yes! Eventually, after a lot of rescheduling, I got into his office for 15 minutes. He suggested I come back after my master’s for some work experience, and that’s what I did.

NYUAD: What was your role at Atlantic Productions?

It started as a two-week internship in TV development, which was pitching shows to broadcasters. The timing was fortunate because the department was looking to build a new team so I was hired full-time and spent two years there pitching to networks like BBC and Netflix.

NYUAD: What are you doing now?

I just finished a three-month internship with Science in the City Malta. I’m back in the UK now, still doing some media and evaluation work for the festival remotely. I’m also on a freelance contract with Alchemy Immersive, where I’m working on cutting-edge storytelling projects.

NYUAD: What’s your advice to other students?

If you’re having a tough time, talk to friends and alumni and you’ll realize that everyone is going through a process and their own challenges. Try to network and get a regular job if you can.