My current position:
I currently work as Quality and Impact Manager at Jami – a mental health charity for the Jewish community in London. I work with staff across the organisation to help us better understand the collective difference the charity is making, and use this learning to improve and innovate services.
I like that my position has oversight over the whole organisation and that I get to work with staff members in all teams. I also like the fact that my role plays an important part in helping to make strategic decisions about the charity. Not sitting within any particular team has definitely been an asset; however, it has also at times proved to be challenging, especially when working remotely.
I did a Geography undergraduate degree at the University of Cambridge and always had an interest in development issues. I then worked in a temporary administration role for six months and went travelling in South America for six months, before completing the Social Development Practice Master’s course at UCL.
After graduating from UCL, I went on to be a Trust Fundraiser for the international development NGO, World Jewish Relief for 2.5 years. I wrote grant applications and reports to trusts and foundations, and searched for new sources of income for our work. During this time, I realised that fundraising was not for me, and my interest lay more in the management and evaluation of the charity’s services. I then got a job as Evaluation and Impact Support Officer at Community Southwark- an umbrella organisation supporting the charity sector in Southwark. I worked with local organisations of all sizes and remits, building their capacity to better measure and demonstrate the impact of their services.
This gave me a wonderful insight into monitoring and evaluation processes in its many forms, and I was delighted to get a position at Jami, putting this into practice for one organisation whose remit I feel passionately about.
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.
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 have 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 classmates! 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.