MSc Practising Sustainable Development
Place of Work: StreetInvest
Position: Project Manager
What does your current position involve and what do you love about it?
StreetInvest supports street connected children and young people by providing training and support for street workers, mainly in Africa. It is a small organisation and as such I have been very lucky to be involved in many of the organisation’s activities, and at many levels. I have a combined role as M&E officer, Project Manager for Sierra Leone and IT manager. My work involves leading the development of an M&E framework for the organisation including building and trialling data collection tools and evaluation processes. I am coordinating StreetInvest’s involvement in a national project for street connected children and youth in Sierra Leone and was recently lucky to spend some time there. I have also been implementing a CRM system and am managing the development of a new website and setting up processes for social media use. I love the fact that my role is varied and that StreetInvest has a policy of inclusion where it is possible to be involved in so many different aspects of its work. This makes it possible for me to contribute my experience and skills and at the same time is great for learning.
How did you come to get that position?
To put it simply I would not have gotten to this position if it hadn’t been for the Masters at Royal Holloway. A fellow part time student was working for StreetInvest and I started volunteering there. That became a part-time job and eventually a full time position when I completed the Masters. My previous experience was as a project manager in IT so it was natural that I would be given the IT responsibilities, and the project management skills I learned in that job have been useful. I decided to do a Masters in development to engineer a career change. I had a first degree in social sciences and some experience of youth work from Norway. Prior to applying to the course I did an Open University diploma in Environment and International Development.
How do you think your degree has helped you?
Apart from giving me the volunteering opportunity that eventually led to a full time job the Masters gave me a very good understanding of the central issues of development with a very critical eye on why it so often have been unsuccessful. The focus on monitoring and evaluation, and the module on participatory methodology has helped me in my current job as that is central to StreetInvest’s work. The research training has also been very helpful. I did the research for my dissertation on measuring subjective wellbeing of street connected children and youth with one of StreetInvest’s partners in Tanzania and outputs from the research are being used by StreetInvest and some of their partners now.
Is there any advice you would give to current students?
My advice would be to volunteer as much as possible and seek out and grab opportunities when they present themselves even if it’s not exactly what you’re looking for. Opportunities are getting fewer and further between in a difficult jobs market and you need some experience to have any chance of getting a paid job. When I started the Masters I hadn’t planned to work with street connected children and youth, but given the opportunity it has ended up being the perfect job for me.