Getting Into Fundraising May 21, 2013Posted by Jeff Riley in : international development , add a comment
Thanks very much to one of our readers who has kindly allowed us to make some advice we gave her public
“Dear Jeff, I hope you don’t mind me getting in touch. I am a regular on your website and have taken on a lot of advice in your book ‘Getting Into International Development’ .I am writing to seek your advice and I apologise as I am sure you receive many emails similar to mine! However if you can give it, any advice on my current position would be invaluable and much appreciated.
I graduated in 2011 with a first in International Development and Geography. Since leaving university I worked voluntarily as a Fundraising Events Co-ordinator for a large NGO, completed a programmes based internship with a children’s charity and completed an internship with a microfinance charity including going to Malawi for three months to implement part of their project. I have recently had four interviews relating to fundraising and projects and unfortunately have not been successful with any of them. However the interview feedback they have given me is not enough experience although I have been in the final two for three of the interviews. I have been applying for jobs since the end of February.
Would you recommend I complete another internship or sit tight and hope more of an entry level appears?
Thank you in advance,
Hi Rosa, actually I don’t get that many direct contacts and it’s nice to hear from a real live reader!
- Firstly, you are on your way . . . you have the qualifications, determination and experience. Don’t forget that or give up. The fact you are getting shortlisted regularly is a really good sign. You have been applying since February . . . well its still only May and you haven’t done badly with your strike rate!
- Secondly, the only time you can guarantee that you have enough experience is when you are offered a job. So that feedback might be right and I would suggest that until you get a job that you carry on getting experience.
- Thirdly, even though fundraising is an easier route into development than, say, policy or research, it is still competitive. So do consider less fashionable fundraising sectors before pitching for really popular ones. I remember interviewing one fundraising professional who built up her experience with an unfashionable charity – something like ‘Help The Aged’ before she landed a fundraising job with UNICEF. Remember even when the Apollo spacecraft went to the moon they had to head in a different direction but they always knew they were on course.
- Do check out our resources on careerstagged.co.uk search on fundraising – the institute of fundraising has some job seeking tips. http://www.careerstagged.co.uk/resources/fundraising/all/popular/1 The institute of fundraising also runs short courses – maybe that would just give you the edge you need? They are also having a national convention in July – maybe you could ask to volunteer there and network while you are at it?
- Also are you using our jobonline site http://jobonline.thecareersgroup.co.uk/careersgroup/student/ ? A search on fundraising as a keyword search will yield quite a few good opportunities
International Citizen Service – Restless Development April 17, 2013Posted by Jeff Riley in : NGO, international development , 1 comment so far
We recently published a report from a student enrolled in the International Citizen Service Programme through VSO. Now James Cheung an LSE student has written about his experiences with Restless Development – one of the other organisations delivering the programme.
“I just returned from a 3 month (January to March) volunteering placement in a small rural community in Eastern Uganda, with an international NGO called Restless Development. I was working in a small team of 4 volunteers (2 national, 2 international) on a project funded by UK DFID (the Department for International Development), on David Cameron’s flagship volunteering scheme called the International Citizen Service. Our project was aimed at raising awareness and promoting discussion of Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights, primarily with youth aged between 15 and 35.
“We began our programme with an intensive training course, and then the group of 40 volunteers split into 10 teams across different sub-counties in eastern Uganda. We volunteered as peer educators to facilitate workshops on a range of topics including HIV issues such as stigma and discrimination, STI knowledge and prevention, Gender Rights and Life Skills, such as leadership and communication. We ran sessions in a secondary school, with youth groups and the whole community. We managed community based partnerships alongside the local government and various organisations to run events including health centre talks, condom demonstration and distribution, dialogues and, HIV voluntary counselling and testing to over 300 participants. Our achievements include establishing a youth group (www.nambicommunityresourcecentre.com/blog), and creating partnerships to continue the charity’s work in the community.
“Challenges that we came across included cultural barriers, for example on gender equality we experienced cultural attitudes that could limit female roles in society, a language barrier, poor timekeeping, environmental issues (seeing an 8ft cobra outside our house one night), domestic violence and school corporal punishment. The experience taught me about the problems that so many still face on a daily basis, we lived for 3 months without electricity or running water but there were friends we made who struggled to pay the school fees of their children, needed to bribe officials to get jobs, and who couldn’t rely on government services like the health service and benefits that we know. I have volunteered in the past but this was the first time I was welcomed so openly and fully into a community, we ate and talked and worked with so many different people and learnt from each other. I experienced optimism and positivity- we watched presidential elections in neighbouring Kenya and debated democracy, and I met students that studied till 5am so they could attend university.
“Learning more about development issues and contributing to help improve lives will always make a difference. This doesn’t necessarily mean volunteering or a big commitment but everyone can do their part.”
International Citizen Service – VSO April 9, 2013Posted by Jeff Riley in : international development, working abroad , add a comment
Faradh Maharoof, a student from Queen Mary, University of London has written for us about his preparations before departing on a three month internship in Malindi, Kenya. Faradh’s piece really gets across his enthusiasm and resourcefulness and underlines how this kind of project can make a real difference to everyone involved – including the volunteers. We hope we can persuad Faradh to send us an update from Kenya. Until then read his post and get some inspiration and information.
The International Citizen Service (ICS) is a government funded programme that gives young people (18-25) an opportunity to volunteer abroad for three months. Run by six of the most respected names in international volunteering, the programme empowers young people to work within communities and help tackle poverty.
Why did I apply to the ICS programme? I find it hard to pinpoint one defining or single reason as to why I applied for the ICS programme. What I am sure of is that my decision to join this programme stems from an empathetic nature and my many travels and holidays in the developing world. From a young age my travels to countries like Sri Lanka, India, Mongolia and even China have enabled me to witness the profound depth of poverty and the glaring inequalities that exist within our global society today. These collective experiences have often left me frustrated and angry, at having to witness such a struggle while being placed in the shoes of a helpless onlooker. Seeing so much deprivation has instilled in me a long standing desire to take arms in the fight against poverty and this is a fundamental reason for my commitment to this programme.
Such underlying feelings have also led me towards a career in international development and it is an area that I have been taking a number of steps in. However, I am just starting out and I view this programme as wonderful opportunity for someone like me, as it allows young people to develop skills, knowledge and experiences. I hope this experience can help my career aspirations in the long run. One more factor that drew me to this programme was the opportunity to immerse myself in another country, another culture and another way of life for three months; and make a real difference while doing so. I found the ICS programme better able to provide a more comprehensive volunteering experience. They only take on projects that have been specifically requested by local authorities and communities, and are run by six of the most respected charities in international volunteering. To be able to work and learn in such a committed environment was too good to turn down.
The journey before the journey Once you have gone through all the emotions of being accepted onto the ICS programme, with the charity you have been assigned to, the next few months before departure can feel like an eternity. Despite being a mere two weeks away from my scheduled departure date, I cannot help feel impatient and restless; I sense that this will continue until I step onto the plane, where these emotions will be replaced by nerves and apprehension. The ‘pre-departure’ period is dominated by three main responsibilities, fundraising, vaccinations and the training weekend.
Fundraising Initially, the idea of having to fundraise £800 was daunting, especially considering that I have never engaged in this kind of activity before. However, the ideas and support provided by the VSO fundraising team have been wonderful, and most, if not all of my fundraising ideas, came as a direct result of the support and ideas they provided. I found that planning ahead and taking into account a number of different fundraising strategies were crucial to my success.
My two main strategies were to organise charity events and get donations from friends, family and colleagues. While the latter approach has provided me with the majority of my funding, I found the former approach to be an enriching experience. By organising a number of charity football matches, mini-marathons, and social gatherings I was able to raise awareness, and importantly gain a better appreciation of the organisational skills and commitment needed to succeed in the international development sector.
I should also inform you that I have just been granted £300 from Jack Petchey Foundation. I was aware of a number of different grant options, but hadn’t applied to any as I was unsure on how successful I would be pursuing this strategy. It seemed a bit far-fetched but after a conversation with my fundraising officer I decided to apply for the Jack Petchey Foundation’s Volunteering grant, in fact I just made the deadline. How well it turned out then. I applied to the Jack Petchey Foundation as I had known them from a very young age, over the years I had become well aware of just how much they invest in the youth of London and just being able to apply and meet their eligibility criteria was a humbling experience. To actually receive their support, and such a generous amount of support, has left me speechless and I cannot begin to express how grateful I am for this.
Overall, the fundraising has been a positive experience and one that is designed to test your commitment to the programme. I would encourage everyone on the ICS programme to take on board all of the support and advice provided, as it helped me reach my target. During the experience I was able to network with some wonderful people, all of whom provided me with ideas and support that have been helpful to my cause. Among them are two journalists who have helped put my project on few local newspapers, and I am truly grateful for their help in both, raising awareness of the ICS programme and also encouraging more young people to take part.
Vaccinations The vaccinations, all eight of them, have been the least inspiring part of the pre-departure process but also a very important part of it, without them you cannot take your place on the programme. I am not particularly scared of injections; I have never had a phobia of needles, or clowns for that matter, but the notion of eight injections did leave me slightly uneasy. I have always been a bit naive as to their importance and despite travelling on a regular basis; I have only been vaccinated against a couple of the major threats. Therefore I am grateful to this programme; in the sense that it made me do something I would not have done so otherwise, which is to take my health more seriously when I am travelling.
Training weekend Another compulsory component of the pre-departure process is the training weekend, which is held in Birmingham, London or York. My weekend took place in Birmingham, fortunately in one of the nicer parts of the city, and I had to opportunity to meet around 15-20 other volunteers. It is vital to attend on the training dates provided as you will have a chance to meet a few volunteers who will be travelling with you to the same country and undertaking the same project. It is one of the only ways before departure whereby you have the chance to meet and get to know your teammates. Otherwise it can be a case of heading off into to the unknown, with the unknown.
The weekend itself is a very informative experience and it is run by two return volunteers. Their sessions cover everything from footwear to healthcare and are designed to prepare you for the three months abroad. Be prepared to do your fair share of singing, dancing, running and presenting during the weekend as the sessions are quite engaging. Factor in the drinking and socialising that follows the conclusion of each day and the weekend has the capacity to be ever so slightly tiring. Nevertheless, it is still an immensely enjoyable experience, one that allows socialising with likeminded people and the transfer of important information.
Pre-conceptions I haven’t really had the time to be nervous. The last few months have been frantic; currently I am undertaking an internship at the Democratic Progress Institute, as a fundraising and development intern while also holding onto my part-time, weekend job at the John Lewis Partnership. Having to work seven days a week is highly taxing, but by managing my holidays effectively and having the luck of the long Easter weekend, I have been able to recharge my batteries at timely moments. This has enabled me to stay committed on both fronts, but I haven’t had the luxury of thinking about my Kenya adventure for a prolonged period of time.
I am unsure how close the trip came to being called off due to the recent election violence, but I was informed of another volunteering team in Kenya being withdrawn due to safety concerns. This worries me endless, as I feel like I have so much to learn and experience from the whole three months and the thought of not going, or coming home early is my biggest fear at the moment. But I have taken the bigger picture into account, which is the shocking and unacceptable spate of violence that has unfortunately cost a lot of innocent lives.
Food poisoning is something that I have pretty much accepted is going to happen at some point during my three months. From information passed down to us and hearing experiences of other volunteers, it seems almost inevitable. 7 out of 10 volunteers are supposed to experience it. So there is possibly not much I can do, other than prepare for the worst. Sunburn is another hazard that has the potential to make life very uncomfortable. Though it has never been an issue for me I will still be taking the necessary precautions, especially after hearing some of the horror stories the VSO nurse had to share with us. Furthermore, living in an environment that has more bugs than you are used will take some adjusting, and while simple bites and bruises are to be expected, I am rather more concerned about malaria. I didn’t realise it was so easy to catch!
Final thoughts I still cannot believe I am going! In a conflicting way it seems to have happened so fast, before I knew it I am preparing for three months in Kenya, but at the same time the last two months have dragged. So I am glad that I am on that final stretch where I can start concentrating on packing and learning phrases in Swahili.
On a final note, I could not be happier with the choice of going to Kenya. On my application form I opted against selecting any charity, country or project preferences as I didn’t want to reduce my chances in any way. Naturally this meant that I had no idea as to which region I will be travelling or which type of work I will be undertaking. However, having only dreamt of going to Africa, I could not be happier with the choice of Kenya. We also seem to me be near the coast, and the thought of being a stone’s throw away from the beach is sending my excitement levels through the roof. The project theme is educational and disability needs, which are areas I look forward to learning more and gaining more experience in. Disability is an issue I feel strongly about and the fact that the welfare system we take for granted is almost non-existent in many parts of the world is something I have read about and even witnessed on a number of occasions. Therefore having the chance to help people that may not necessarily be able to help themselves is an experience I look forward to. We will also work on environmental issues at some point and this is an issue that I have come to love through my A-levels in Geography.
While I am excited about the project and the three months ahead, I cannot help feel that there will be plenty of challenges, good and bad, in the times to come. Therefore, I hope that the combination of experiences will help me learn more about the world of poverty and gain a better understanding of the struggle people in other parts of the world face on a daily basis.
Graduate recruitment, development consultancies, international development , 3comments
We were notified of an opportunity as an International Development / Business Administration graduate with WYG International – the international development consultancy arm of the WYG Group. I took a chance to talk to them about their work and the role they have on offer.
Firstly I just couldn’t help asking why they were based in Nottingham. Ján Michalko, one of WYG International’s Business Development Executives told me, “The location isn’t that meaningful for us because our operations here are just part of a global network. We have offices in several countries and regions including South Africa, Turkey, the Balkans – and, yes, Nottingham”
Having cleared that up I asked Ján about what lay behind the creation of the advertised post. “We already operate in a wide range of sectors – education, public finance, governance, and many more – but we are consciously expanding and diversifying our pool of donors. We have recently successfully become a supplier to DfID in various frameworks. So we really need a good applicant to help support our work in developing bids. We are bidding for work with donors such as the European Union, the World Bank as well as government departments”.
I asked about some of the ‘Job details’. Particularly about the element involving ‘strategic decision making on which projects (WYG International) should bid for’. I asked about what kinds of things are considered in this decision making. Ján was keen to reassure me that the successful graduate would be part of a team making these kinds of strategic decisions and that their contribution would be very much in a support capacity. “We would expect them,” he said, “to be conducting research about other likely bidders, for example. Or to review what resources, in terms of expertise and staff, we have available to help us deliver the work. Their contribution will be significant but it will be in conjunction with, and guided by, our experienced team.”
In a similar vein I touched on the element, ‘drafting of text and diagrams for bids’. Again Ján was clear that this did not mean the recruit would be writing entire bids but, rather, they could be asked to be draft or write sections or to source diagrams and pictures. “This could include using Excel to produce charts, for example,” he said, “but we have designers to make the documents conform to our standards. It could mean, for example, providing data that analyses a previous project. Items such as where money has been spent, what is the gender balance in the people impacted by our projects, recording measurements of success – a whole range of data, including numerical data.”
I asked Ján what he would be looking for when he reviews applications. “Confidence and some experience around dealing with data and solid analytical skills. This needn’t have been through previous consultancy work but would probably be more than just academic experience. Our bids don’t just involve researching material externally but we have an archive of material from previous bids. Having, in other words, the ability to review and retrieve pertinent information and integrate with other material. Other qualities we are looking for include ‘independence’, flexibility (especially when we are trying to meet tender deadlines) and research skills.”
I also asked Ján whether developing country experience was necessary. “We are an international development consultancy but the role has a dual aspect – business administration as well as international development. Developing country could be helpful but it isn’t a requirement. We are much more focused on the analytical and research skills. The role isn’t an international one – though we have a global network of offices and you may be called on to work overseas and meet clients when you have more experience. Mainly, though you will be office based. Having said that you will definitely need people skills – our bids are developed in teams of consultants and experts and in conjunction with other partners. So being able to get along with others is an important element.
Applicants are encouraged to submit applications as soon as possible although the nominal closing date is May 17th. Details from http://bit.ly/17eYqxK
The Collective Sierra Leone February 28, 2013Posted by Jeff Riley in : NGO, international development, work abroad, working abroad , add a comment
The Collective Sierra Leone is a capacity building organisation that provides a range of opportunities for those who want to build experience in Sierra Leone. These include a range of three month volunteering opportunities run all year round with partner organisations in the country, including research, microfinance and advocacy; a five day leadership programme and a leadership development internship that has been designed for those who will be applying to, or been accepted onto, the UK’s TeachFirst Programe. We spoke to the founder Charlie Habershon about the programmes and about volunteering in the developing world in general.
Charlie – why Sierra Leone? I first visited Sierra Leone in 2006 and returned in 2009 with my girlfriend to help set up the ethical fashion label NearFar, a social enterprise she still runs. On both visits I was struck by the country’s huge potential. With outstanding natural beauty and a rich source of natural minerals the country has the foundations for a bright future. However, poverty and unemployment still remain major challenges. Sierra Leone still ranks 180 of 187 on the UNDP development index with 77% of Sierra Leone’s living in poverty and 62.79% living on less than $1.25 a day (UNDP Multidimensional Poverty Index 2011).
Misconception is one of the largest barriers for its development. But travel to Sierra Leone and you will see a country that is peaceful and very much open for business. I became determined to spread this message to as many people as possible.
After graduating from Nottingham University, I was accepted on to the Teach First programme. For two years I taught History and Economics in inner-city London in what was both a challenging and extremely rewarding experience. During the programme, I worked with graduates and professionals with a desire to create positive change in eradicating educational disadvantage. With extensive support we were able to use our enthusiasm and skills to have a genuine impact in the classroom. I began to think about how I could do the same for individuals and organisations in Sierra Leone, to help reduce the skills gap left by 10 years of war
It was with this thought that I decided to set up The Collective–Sierra Leone, a capacity building organisation with the mission to provide individuals and organisations with the tools to create positive change. To do this, we place and support innovative graduates and professionals from around the world in challenging projects. You can read more about my thoughts on Sierra Leone in the Huffington Post.
As you are aware there are now lots of organisations facilitating developing country experience. What is your take on the debate around ‘Voluntourism’. This is a term that I always try to avoid. ‘Voluntourism’ can have a very negative effect on local communities and projects. It can distort markets, create misconceptions and lead to a feeling of reliance on outside help. When the Collective was set up, we were fed up with companies charging huge fees and merely acting as brokers. Instead, we work to provide a mutually beneficial experience that ensures that both organisations and volunteers are able to develop. We will never place a volunteer in a role if we think it is denying nationals job opportunities. All our roles have clear job descriptions so we are matching volunteer skills with the needs of our partner organisations to ensure that the greatest impact is made in country. I do, however, believe that tourism and volunteering can work together as long as the latter takes precedence. One of our aims is to create positive stories about Sierra Leone and to bring more people into the country. We always encourage our volunteers to travel and see the country’s sites. Every new visitor to the country helps break the misconceptions surrounding the country and means more people will hear positive stories about it. This could lead to increased tourism into the country and perhaps future investment.
If the programmes are for people looking to get experience how do you respond when people accuse volunteering organisations of sending inexperienced people to take on roles that they aren’t qualified to do? In our opinion, Sierra Leone’s biggest challenge is its human and organisational capacity. All our partner organisation, who work in micro-finance, enterprise and education, are doing amazing work in-country, but need high levels of expertise to improve the efficiency of what they do. A huge number of talented individuals with the potential to drive the country forward missed out on an education because of the war. We are working to bridge that gap. With our thorough support and coaching, interns work closely with our partners to implement sustainable systems that will continue to operate well after their departure while providing leadership development training along the way. This might mean supporting an organisation to set up simple monitoring systems or working with staff to develop work plans. For our 3 and 6 month programmes we only take on graduates and professionals who pass our stringent application process. We recruit graduates and professionals who have experience in the working world and understand how organisations run. We then help them transfer those skills into a new environment. I don’t believe you need a masters or a PHD to have a positive impact in Sierra Leone. In fact, I think bringing individuals from different sectors and backgrounds helps to give a new perspective on the issues we see here. The key is that they have the support and mentoring to transfer those skills. Of the 16 volunteers that we had last year, four went on to work for Teach First and six are now working in the charity/international development sector.
Do your partner organisations get a cut of the fees the volunteers pay or is their benefit in form of the work they contribute? We do not give any money to our partner organisations. Our mission is to build the capacity of organisations and individuals so that they can better access the funding that is available. Organisations should take on a volunteer because they need their skills not because they are an additional revenue stream. If that was the case we would find organisations taking on volunteers for the wrong reasons and their real value, in the skills they bring, would be lost. This is why, for the few placements that do require one, we are able to charge a very low fee to cover the costs of accommodation, transport, training and mentoring. We are a not-for-profit social enterprise, so unlike many ‘voluntourism’ companies, we are not driven by the desire to generate profit for shareholders, but instead by our desire to make a positive change here in Sierra Leone.
What skills or formal qualifications are needed for people to work with the Salone microfinance partnership or the organisation that has introduced football leagues for example. Some of the roles that are advertised – ‘Development Officer’ and ‘Researcher’ sound quite demanding. Yes, they are challenging. I get a lot of applications from people who have volunteered before and were disappointed with the experience as they felt they were not utilised and challenged. We require graduates who show drive and potential (often candidates who have been accepted on to the Teach First Programme) and professionals who have experience in the work place that we believe can be transferred. The work can be tough, but that is why we have a team in-country to mentor volunteers through the process.
The summer internship opportunity is designed to provide an experience for those who are either deferring a Teach First offer or to help those who want to apply to Teach First. Do you have any formal links to Teach First? As I mentioned in response to the first question, I am a Teach First Ambassador and was influenced heavily by my time on the programme. Teach First have been very supportive of the project, providing office space and interns in the summers I am back in the UK. I have worked closely with their Graduate Recruitment team and we both felt that our ‘Developing Future Leaders’ one-month internship would help students gain the skills that are required to be an effective leader in the classroom while supporting our mission in Sierra Leone. On the internship we will support the volunteers to ensure they are building the necessary competencies required for the programme.
Read my other blog posts about working abroad
Africa Governance Initiative – a Graduate Scheme February 22, 2013Posted by Jeff Riley in : Government, Graduate recruitment, development consultancies, international development, politics , add a comment
I was delighted to hear from Jo Evans. I first met Jo when she was involved with putting on the Oxford Forum for International Development (OxFID) while she was a student at Oxford University. She is now the second graduate to take part in AGI’s graduate development programme, and part of her role is to help recruit her replacement. I spoke to her about AGI, about the scheme and, along the way, picked up some useful tips for those considering the sector.
Firstly, Jo, what is the AGI? AGI was established in 2008 by Tony Blair and is one of the three charitable foundations that he set up after leaving office. Essentially it’s a not-for-profit concerned with improving governance in Africa through providing practical support to African leaders and their governments to help them deliver on their own priorities. We work at the centre of government, with Presidents and their priority ministries and all of our teams are embedded in the offices of our counterparts. We support them by giving practical advice on how to get things done and to deliver policies effectively for their people, which as you can imagine is hard in any government, let alone in developing countries where capacity can be low and the challenges are so great. Because AGI works with the leadership of countries, we have an explicitly ‘top down’ approach to bringing about change, which makes AGI different from a lot of other organisations in the sector that may be more focused on the grass roots, or on a combination of approaches.
How do you measure success? When the governments we work with plan and implement a programme that increases the productivity of small farms, creates new jobs, or connects two cities for the first time with a paved highway, the credit is all theirs; but if we can identify in that our contribution to the development of the skills and systems that enabled it to happen, then we know we’re making a difference. A more basic measure of our success is the growing number of countries that we work with; starting with Rwanda back in 2008, we now work with seven African governments, with more likely to follow in the future. Another great measure is the ongoing endorsement we receive from our partner governments for the work we are doing – a number of the Presidents we support have publicly complemented the support that AGI gives them and their teams, and some have even recommended our work to the leaders of other African countries. A typical example of how we have tangible impact can be seen in our work to support the government of Sierra Leone to launch free maternal and infant healthcare. This has immediate, real-world results – the number of children in hospital dying of malaria has fallen by 80%– but through the process we have also helped to put in place the long-term systems that will enable the government to deliver large healthcare reforms in the future.
What inspired you to work in this sector? Well, I have been engaged with development for about 5 years, ever since attending the student organised OxFID (Oxford Forum for International Development) conference. In fact I came along to one of The Careers Group days on ‘Getting Into International Development’. I had previously worked for about 4 years in the arts sector but decided that I wanted to dedicate myself to working on poverty reduction. I undertook an undergraduate degree as a mature student at Oxford, and while I was there I got involved in running OxFID 2010. Throughout my degree, I also interned and worked in the sector. I became interested in this ‘top down’ approach after spending some time in Pakistan where I observed the efforts of aid organisations in helping the country deal with the terrible floods that occurred in 2010 and 2011. They were doing great work – and saving lives – but it was clear that they were substituting for the proper role that the government of the country should have been taking in protecting its people and preparing them for disasters. So I found myself wanting to work to help governments deliver for their people. So when I saw the AGI graduate development scheme being advertised I was very keen to get recruited, and of course, the chance to spend time in Africa working on one of our projects was very exciting.
How does AGI’s Graduate Development Scheme fit in? Well the scheme aims to provide professional experience and personal development to someone who can become a leader in the international sector. At the same time the graduate Programmes Officer will make a practical and important contribution to our work in a number of ways. They will get exposure to many of the different functions involved in running a small dynamic NGO and will get involved in a whole range of our activities. Broadly speaking, the scheme is split into 3 sections.
During the first year of the scheme, the focus is mainly on operations. We are a fast paced and ever-changing organisation, so the new graduate may work on different areas to me, but to give a sense of my experience, I’ve been working on:
• Supporting our Recruitment: The organisation depends on recruiting high calibre people and running this not only links the graduate up with many different parts of the organisation, but also offers them a great chance to understand how organisations think about recruiting people. I’ve found this invaluable for thinking about my future approach to applying for jobs, and about the kinds of skills I want to build.
• People management: In addition AGI regularly recruits interns and I am responsible for line managing them. Again we think this is a key skill that the graduate will need to be able to develop their career in the longer term.
• Event Management: Every 6 months we hold big internal events which bring all of our staff together for cross organisation learning and training. I work closely with the Senior Mangement Team to design, plan and deliver these events which have built on my event and project management skills. At the same time it’s a great chance to meet and spend time with all of the people across our organisation who I think are extraordinarily talented and interesting. You can learn a lot from being around people who are dynamic and full of ideas.
• Research: During my time here I have had to deliver research in lots of different areas. The topics change all the time but examples could include researching for a briefing paper on the background of a leader who has expressed an interest in working with us, or researching an issue around agriculture that a partner government wants to focus on.
In the 2nd phase, the graduate will spend time working on a distinct project in one of our Africa programmes. This is a great opportunity to understand first-hand the challenges that our governments face and to develop the competencies set out in the job advert around influencing, coaching and delivering change through others, and building and maintaining strong relationships.
In the final year of the programme, the graduate’s work will be much more focused on supporting the projects, working alongside the Director of Projects and Performance. This work will also include working on our monitoring and evaluation processes. This will be invaluable for anyone who wants to work in international development in the future as effective reporting to donors and constant self evaluation to ensure that you have positive impact is a hugely important part of any development work.
What are you looking for in candidates? Well the job specification sets out the key skills and competencies we’ll be looking for, but in addition to this I can say the following.
The work focuses on international development, governance and public policy. Applicants will need to have a track record and an interest in at least one of these – or even all of them! Realistically we would expect these interests to have been demonstrated in a practical way. In my case I was interested in development and could point to my experience with OXFID as well as my work experience and internships with Christian Aid and Oxfam. One thing my recruitment experience with AGI has given me is an awareness of how often people claim a passion for something like international development without having any tangible evidence of engagement with it.
We hope candidates aren’t put off by the list of competencies we look for. For example we look for ‘Strategic Planning’ and ‘Leadership’, which it isn’t really fair to expect a graduate to have. What we are looking for is the potential to develop these – we don’t expect people to have already done it at a professional level. Even having run a student society or delivered an event could provide exactly the right evidence we need for a particular competency.
We are really looking for the scheme to develop potential, so people who have already had significant training or previous professional experience in the sector might find the programme wouldn’t be able to benefit them. On the other hand we want to encourage people that might not fit the ‘standard’ graduate profile to apply – mature students (like me!) can apply, non-traditional students can apply and both recent undergraduate and masters students can apply. As long as you have the capacity to benefit from the programme and the potential to become a future leader, then we’re interested in hearing from you.
Full details of the scheme, as well as occasional internships, are available on AGI’s careers page – http://www.africagovernance.org/africa/pages/careers
The deadline for receiving initial applications is March 15th 2013
Africa Governance Initiative
Getting International Experience February 21, 2013Posted by Jeff Riley in : Careers Resources, Uncategorized, international development, internships, politics, work abroad, working abroad , add a comment
I did a talk recently for MA Politics and International Relations students at Queen Mary College, University of London about the value of international experience. I thought it would be helpful to summarise some of the issues I flagged up.
For many careers in the sector having international experience is incredibly valuable. You will learn things about a country or region by being there for a period that will provide a crucial supplement to your academic experience and that you wouldn’t necessarily get from reading academic texts. It will help you build networks, improve your language skills and provide some great evidence of transferable skills such as resourcefulness, independence and initiative.
• STUDYING. Lots of colleges can arrange for students to spend time abroad through the European Union’s ‘Erasmus Programme.’ These are exchange programmes organised with partner institutions abroad. At Queen Mary, for example, students from the School of Politics and International Relations can take a semester in France – though you will need reasonable French to take part. Other colleges and departments will have other placements available. As well as Erasmus there may be other ad hoc arrangements in place to facilitate international experience during an academic course. History students at Queen Mary, for example, have in the past spent time in colleges in the USA. There are also some courses that have international experience built-in. Some of these fall within an extension of the Erasmus model called ‘Erasmus Mundus’ programme. As with many EU funded programmes it could take a lifetime tracking them down and hurdling the various application processes. Here is one interesting example from the UK – a human rights Masters at Roehampton Another bold option is take the entire course overseas. I wrote a while ago about how one student had used an overseas Masters as a way of combining getting an academic qualification with country experience and field experience. While this example is from Uganda the increase in fees in the UK many students are now considering taking their masters elsewhere in Europe. In countries such as the Netherlands as well as other places courses may well be taught in English. Finally, for the past few years countries who have traditionally sent a lot of students to study in the UK are now encouraging traffic in the other direction. The Study India and Study China programmes run every year and provide a great chance to have short study visits to these countries to find out more about higher education there as part of a cultural programme.
• VOLUNTEERING. There are lots of organisations who will, for a fee, arrange some international work experience. Most typically this would be in developing countries with NGOs but there are also organisations who will facilitate commercial experience. Proceed with caution as some of the arrangement fees can be expensive. Also make sure the experience is going to provide the right level of challenge for you. If you already have some experience, for example with the programme offered by International Citizen Service (a consortium comprising six organisations providing volunteering experience for 18-25 year olds. The consortium includes VSO, Tear Fund, Progression, Restless Development, International Service and Raleigh International) you might be ready for a more customised placement which can be arranged with organisations like 2Way Development or Links For Change. Again proceed with caution because, while all the organisations I mention have a good track record, the sector as a whole can give rise to debate about the ethics of sending relatively inexperienced northern hemisphere volunteers to intervene in developing countries. Read more about the issues through a recent film called Mind The Gap
• EDUCATION – The demand for teachers of English remains high and an investment in a certificate in Teaching English as a Foreign Language can easily repay itself. Working as a TEFL teacher can help you get some practical experience of living and working internationally. The TEFL certificates offered by Cambridge or Trinity House through a wide network of schools in the UK and overseas are, however, only one way of gaining TEFL experience. Many organisations offer opportunities to get involved in classrooms without formal teaching qualifications. AIESEC, for example include education as one of its options
An organisation like VESL or Tenteleni
sees its volunteers contributing to education in ways that support local, qualified teachers. A recent interview with VESL summed up how students fit in to the education picture – “The schools we work with really appreciate having volunteers from the UK to increase students confidence, help with pronunciation and give the students an opportunity to learn about UK culture. Our volunteers also help in other ways by running extracurricular classes such as sports events or helping out at local NGOs running additional English classes.” . A very prestigious programme for teaching English is offered through the JET Programme which funds thousands of young people to work as Assistant Language Teachers in Japanese schools. The British Council also work in 14 countries and provide excellent opportunities to work as language assistants.
• INTERNSHIPS – These can’t really be distinguished from volunteering. However, for our purposes in this blog we are defining internships as opportunities that provide a more individual experience with a more defined job description. Unlike volunteering opportunities there is rarely any funding available or even a support programme to help you fundraise. In this group we would place organisations such as think tanks, multilateral organisations such as the EU and the UN but also some commercial organisations. Good examples of international think tank internships include the Hague Centre for Strategic Studies and the International Crisis Group. United Nations internships happen all over the world but popular locations are Geneva, New York. Other branches of the UN such as UNICEF and UNHCR and the World Bank also offer internships. UNICEF India have an excellent internship every year http://www.unicef.org/india/media_8064.htm The European Union offer good quality (and paid!) internships, sometimes known as a stagiare. Some useful resources in previous articles in this blog here –
If you are looking for European opportunities – especially in Brussels then you must sign up for the Junior newsletter produced by Euro-Brussels.com There are also commercial organisations such as CRCC Asia which provide good quality business internships but they are very expensive (over £2.5k for a month internship and a month of intensive Mandarin). It is also possible to organise an international placement with businesses such as Proctor and Gamble who offer summer internships for UK students all over Western Europe. Of course you will have to be interested in a business career. Read about one student’s experience here
• Further Resources – If you have been clicking on the links you will have started using these but to summarise
* Careers Tagged – Use search terms such as ‘volunteering abroad’; ‘working abroad’ and ‘international development’
* Careers Blogs – This blog, of course. Also the one written by Gemma Ludgate at King’s College London has good stuff in general and some posts specifically covering international careers. Such as this recent one. Finally do take a look at The Year Abroad blog written by colleagues at UCL. Well worth scrolling through for useful links
* Facebook – Getting into International Development. Sign up for regular news about the sector
* International Futures – This site provides resources for students looking for international experience as well as for international students studying in the UK
International experiences for summer 2013 January 6, 2013Posted by Jeff Riley in : Uncategorized, international development, work abroad, working abroad , 4comments
Whether you are interested in a career in international development or international relations regional experience is important. One way of building up regional experience is through qualifying as a TEFL teacher but you might also consider volunteering through an organisation such as the charity VESL
We spoke to VESL recently about two different programmes they offer that will provide experience of Sri Lanka, Thailand or India – all excellent countries for those considering work in international development, conflict resolution or other careers related to international relations. Those without teaching experience might consider the programme for English Teachers or English Language Teaching Assistants. While those who have some experience and perhaps have spent time in the developing world might consider the Student Leader programme. As a Student Leader you will be spending more time managing and supporting a small team of volunteers than teaching.
Some key facts
* English Teachers / English Language Teaching Assistants
Programmes last from 4 – 6 weeks to 12 months. Volunteers will need to pay for their own air fare and visa, and make a contribution of £990 (to see what this includes click here). This covers the first six weeks, after which you will need to donate £80 for each additional week. The contribution covers insurance, accommodation and food each week.
* Student Leader Programme – These are funded opportunities, though you will need to enrol your own team of 6-8 volunteers. VESL will provide support to help you do this
Accommodation is typically with local families or teachers. This helps provide a more immersive experience of the host culture. Volunteers can meet up with other volunteers at weekends and some schools have two volunteers – so you won’t be on your own and have people you can arrange to do things with as part of the experience. Volunteers often choose to spend time with their host family at weekends too.
We spoke to VESL about the programme and raised the question about unqualified and inexperienced people being in the classrooms of the developing world. Lauren Plüss, VESL’s programme manager told me, “Our volunteers focus on spoken English, working to improve students’ confidence levels and hopefully inspire them to continue learning English in the future, we hope that all VESL volunteers will be able to make a small but measureable difference. The schools we work with really appreciate having volunteers from the UK to increase students confidence, help with pronunciation and give the students an opportunity to learn about UK culture. Our volunteers also help in other ways by running extracurricular classes such as sports events or helping out at local NGOs running additional English classes. We interview all our volunteers, who have to apply by downloading an application form, we judge each application individually and take into account a person’s enthusiasm, adaptability and creativity, which are characteristics that we feel, make a great volunteer. We have teamed up with a TEFL organisation to provide TEFL training with a 23% discount to our volunteers if they want to take the course before they leave. We also provide some training and a training pack before the volunteers go which will help them operate in the classroom and help them design classes and exercises.“
You can meet VESL at regular recruitment days they hold – there is one coming up in central London on January 19th 2013 and VESL are also attending the UCL volunteering fair on January 17th, 2013
Whenever we write about schemes that send volunteers to the developing world it usually provokes some discussions about the relationships involved. Last year we flagged up a film called ‘Mind The Gap’ that tackles these issues and raises some questions potential volunteers might ask when considering programmes
There are many programmes that will help you get some international experience. We have written previously about organisations such as Tentelini
and Kanaama Interactive
as well as 2Way Development
and Links For Change
These and others such as Restless Development and VSO all offer a range of opportunities internationally depending on your experience.
AIESEC – the best kept secret December 13, 2012Posted by Jeff Riley in : Uncategorized, international development, internships, sustainability, work abroad, working abroad , 4comments
AIESEC GLOBAL COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMME.
One of our enterprising go get ‘em first year students at UCL has got involved with AIESEC. For an organisation that has been around so long, has such a global profile and offers such a good deal to participating students I’m a little embarrassed I knew so little about it. I’m putting it down to its awkward acronym. Here is what I found out
• They have two separate programmes. The one that this post is about is a ‘Global Community Development’ Programme which provides an opportunity to teach or volunteer in one of five different countries – Egypt, Brazil, Columbia, India or China. The other programme (The Global Internship Programme) isn’t being advertised yet and offers a longer placement – between a year and 18 months
• It costs £350 and includes food and accommodation – usually with other interns but could be with a host family. The China programme includes a local salary. The fee covers a minimum of six weeks but can be longer. Oh, and you need to find your own air fare
• The Programme is focused on issues such as sustainability, Education (covering language and culture) and teaching
• AIESEC is the world’s largest youth led, leadership development organisation. Operating in over 100 countries AIESEC aims to activate youth leadership by empowering students and graduates to run an international exchange program
• Even if you have graduated you can still apply – as long as you are under 30 years of age and apply within two years of leaving college.
• It is a competitive programme – AIESEC will be looking for applicants who will complete the programme – and do well on it – and demonstrate key skills such as flexibility and adaptability. Even though there are quite a few places in each country you will have to meet the relevant standards to get accepted.
• The deadline is January 31st 2013. More details at http://aiesec.co.uk/students/go-global Any British university student can apply. Check whether your university has an Aiesec society and get involved. Students from University of London institutions can join the UCL-SOAS chapter at http://aiesec.co.uk/local/london-ucl-soas
Interning at UNHCR London November 2, 2012Posted by Jeff Riley in : Human Rights, Uncategorized, international development , add a comment
I recently visited the UNHCR’s regional office on the Strand in London to meet with a couple of their interns, Kate Mason and Kim Bridger
The UNHCR offer a range of six month unpaid internships across a range of sectors such as fundraising, external relations, legal relations, finance and administration. Details at http://www.unhcr.org.uk/about-us/jobs-and-internships.html
How did you hear about the internships?
Kim – well I came across the work of the UNHCR on my degree (French and European Politics, University of Leeds). I came across the internships when I looked up their website.
Kate – I took a degree in Arabic and Middle Eastern studies (University of Exeter) and similarly to Kim became aware of them through my interest in refugee issues.
Would you say that an interest in refugee issues is a crucial requirement?
Kate – definitely. Not just that but I think some previous experience as well. For example I’m on a fundraising internship. Before I was able to get the UNHCR internship I had already got quite a lot of experience volunteering in fundraising for a small ngo.
Kim – I agree. I also had some experience of the UK asylum scene and in addition had done an internship with a member of the EU parliament. For my internship – external relations this was pretty key experience. We have to know how legislation is created and how parliament works.
Tell me about the application process
Kim – I would make sure you address very clearly every aspect of the job description – even to the point of creating sub headings in the letter. If you don’t the exact experience then make sure you show the relevance of the experience that you do have. And if you get interviewed remember that as far as the interviewer is concerned they are starting with a blank sheet of paper – they won’t remember your application so you need to sell yourself all over again.
Kate – although there is an application form the CV and covering letter is really important. Be clear that you know what the role is and make sure you present evidence that you can do that job. Although they are internships you do get quite a lot of responsibility and you need to convince them you have what it takes. We see far too many very general letters – some of them clearly cut and pasted from other applications and some making references to the UN rather than to UNHCR.
Tell me about your internships
Kate – after my ngo experience I realised that, for me, fundraising was a good area to focus on. I like the fact that the work is clearly measurable and you can quantify results. What is good about this fundraising internship is that I’m getting experience of things like fundraising from ‘high net worth individuals’, corporations and trusts and foundations . At the ngo it was much more focusing on individual giving. The other aspect of the role is that even though its called fundraising you do have to use other skills. For example if we are doing emergency campaigns on Syria or Sudan then designing a campaign requires you to research the issues properly. You also have to be a campaigner. Writing a strong appeal needs good writing skills. The internship has really clarified for me what I enjoy and what I’m good at. I’ve learnt a lot about writing proposals and about the trust fund landscape. So, for example I know now how to pitch proposals depending on the Trust’s concerns and how to judge the amount of effort and customisation proposals need. You also learn a lot about the way corporations are engaged with the sector. And of course my knowledge of the UNHCR has been transformed. I think fundraising should be of more interest to people wanting to work in the sector – I think people get put off because they think its all about money and you have to be highly numerate. I’ve got no more than a maths GCSE (the same as George Osborne)
Kim – I’m on the external relations internship. This means I monitor external sources for material relevant for UNHCR. For example what is happening on social media – things like Twitter, Facebook but also and more importantly what is happening in parliament and how that will impact on our work. I produce daily reports on all this. In the long term I want to work as a policy analyst and this internship ticked all my boxes. And in fact it has really paid off as I’ve just landed a job with DEFRA doing exactly this. In fact today is my last day! The programme as a whole though has been really good. You don’t get paid but you get a lot of support and training. There are lots of career events and I’ve been able to ask really experienced people to look over my applications.
Your can read more about UNHCR and internships on our Careers Tagged site http://www.careerstagged.co.uk/resources/unhcr/all/popular/1