I had studied an undergrad in the UK in geography and always had an interest in development issues. When I graduated I worked in a temporary administration role for six months and went travelling in south America for six months. I am currently working as a Trust Fundraiser for the international development NGO, World Jewish Relief. I write grant applications and reports to trusts and foundations, and search for new sources of income for our work. World Jewish Relief works in poverty alleviation across Eastern Europe and as a humanitarian agency in disaster response. I will actually be travelling soon to Rwanda to explore World Jewish Relief programmes there, meet our local partners and identify new avenues for funding. Working in a small organisation has been invaluable, as I still get to work very closely with the programmes team and assist them in institutional funding applications (to DFID) and other projects - such as a country-wide needs analysis project in Ukraine.
When I applied to SDP I had wanted to go back into studying, I love learning new things and expanding my knowledge. I had looked into geography masters but they were all just extensions of what I had already learned. I wanted something that would be new, challenging and useful in my career.
I hoped that by participating in the course I would gain some of the practical skills needed to work in the development sector, as well as understand the crucial criticisms of the way international development is undertaken worldwide
What made me choose SDP was the practical module, it is something which is so unique and beneficial to the course. You are able to put into practice the skills you've learnt and also to develop connections to organisations that will be useful in your future career. I was also interested in a number of the other courses within the DPU and saw that my optional module could be from one of these courses - allowing me to explore a number of different but related fields. I think that the DPU's approach to international development and academia is so special, and completely unpretentious. The focus on collaboration is really amazing.
My favourite aspect of the course was the first project we did as part of the practical module. My group worked with a homeless shelter called Shelter from the Storm in order to understand the needs of homeless people in London. We worked with residents of the shelter through participatory photography - a really interesting tool. We handed out easy to use digital cameras to participants and gave them themes to take photos of. After a couple of weeks we met with them and used the photos as a tool for discussion. The results were certainly interesting and provoking, and the project highlighted both the potential impact of participatory tools on those who take part as well as the challenges. What made it even more motivating was presenting our findings in a report that was used by Citizens UK in their mayoral election campaign on housing.
I would encourage students to make the most of your fellow class mates! It is an amazing opportunity to learn and work with people from so many interesting backgrounds who all have different experiences. You build up such a great support network which is invaluable during the course and a real asset in the future.