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Diana Safieh

DianaSafieh 

Diana Safieh

MSc Practising Sustainable Development

Graduated: 2008

Place of Work: The Galilee Foundation, a UK charity which provides support for Palestinians in Israel, mainly through our scholarship programme

Position: Managing Director

 

What does your current position involve and what do you love about it?

The Galilee Foundation is a charity which works with Palestinians in Israel to help them break the cycle of poverty, achieve sustainable livelihoods and develop their communities. As a Palestinian myself, I always wanted to work in a Palestinian organisation and now I am in a senior position, I feel like I am contributing significantly to my cause.

As the only employee of the charity, my job sounds more glamorous than it actually is. When you are the only one in an office, even if you have a fancy title, in reality you are also the programmes coordinator, media and communications officer, fundraiser, financial officer, filer, receptionist, secretary, etc all rolled into one. It is a lot of hard work and a lot of long hours, but if you actually care about your work, this is made a lot easier.

At the moment I am particularly excited about some of the upcoming events in aid of the Galilee Foundation, fundraising socials, movie screenings, concerts, and more.

How did you come to get that position?

Before Royal Holloway, I completed a BA in Environment and Society at Kings College. Because I knew I wanted to get into the charity sector, and because I knew this was nearly impossible without several years of voluntary work, I took my masters part-time so that I could also intern part-time at a Palestinian charity in London called Welfare Association. The aim was to build up practical knowledge and contacts at the same time as gaining knowledge and skills at university. When I completed my studies, Welfare Association offered me a paid position as a Programmes Coordinator. Later, there was a brief spell in the private sector, which confirmed to me that I am meant to be working in the field of international development. Now I am back managing a Palestinian charity.

How do you think your degree has helped you?

At university you learn a lot of theories about the ideal way to achieve sustainable development. Unfortunately, in reality, you usually are forced to make a lot of compromises on this. However, it is important to have a model in mind and try to attain it as much as possible, otherwise your attempts to encourage development can go completely off track and have the opposite effect.

In any case, my degree has helped me get my foot in the door because especially now with unemployment being so high, employers can be more selective and demanding in their criteria. There is no way I would have been considered for the jobs I have had if I didn’t have a degree from a respectable university and in a related subject.

Also, having such a positive experience at university has made me even more passionate about helping others experience the same. The Galilee Foundation’s core work revolves around its scholarship programme, which I am so excited about because I want to help young adults have the same opportunities as I did to empower their communities and achieve a higher standard a living for themselves and their families. 

I should also mention I would not have survived the masters or life thereafter without the support of my coursemates and the staff at Royal Holloway. I am still in regular contact with many of them.

Is there any advice you would give to current students?

Don’t expect to graduate and walk into a job. If you can, do voluntary work or internships wherever possible, and preferably before you complete your degree. It is still the case that it matters who you know. So get to know people! Select companies or charities you can see yourself working for in the future and attend their events and offer your services. Ask friends, and family, and friends of the family, and their friends, and their family if there are any opportunities in their organisations or sectors. They are much likely to invite you to interview if they have heard of you before.

 

 

"Do voluntary work or internships wherever possible, and preferably before you complete your degree. It is still the case that it matters who you know. Select companies or charities you can see yourself working for in the future and attend their events and offer your services."

 
 
 
 

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