|Overseas Development Institute|
|Charity and voluntary sector|
|Medium-size business (50-249 employees)|
More about Silvia
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A day in the life of a Project Officer in the United Kingdom
Your degree is a good foundation, but your extracurricular activities are what are going to set you apart from the crowd.
Briefly describe the organisation you work for
I work for a think tank that focuses on global issues. My organisation's work spans various different sectors, from agriculture, to finance and climate change, we deliver research on topics affecting countries across the world.
What do you do?
My role as a project officer involves organising research projects for my organisation from start to finish. I work with researchers to gain funding for research projects, set them up on our administrative systems, manage the achievement of outputs and the finances associated with the project. A lot of the work is administrative, such as processing payments and keep multiple projects on track, but there is also some aspects which can be more "fun" such as organising international events, searching and applying for funding opportunities and connecting people across the organisation and beyond to collaborate on different topics. The programme I work with is mainly focused on global risks and resilience. We cover a range of topics such as disasters risk management, risks associated with China's overseas investment and what it means to be resilient. We also work with other charities to help inform their work.
Reflecting upon your past employment and education, what led you to your current career choice?
I initially got interested in International Development when volunteering in Uganda whilst at York, and looked into ways of getting into that field of work. I ended up doing a masters in International Development, and an internship in the projects department of a small charity as part of my MA. Working there even for a small amount of time really inspired me to make a job in international project management my goal.
Is your current job sector different from what you thought you would enter when you graduated?
I graduated in Psychology, and my current job sector is different from that. But at time of graduation, I knew I wanted to pursue a masters in International Development and career in that field, which is what I'm doing now.
Describe your most memorable day at work
I was really lucky to organise a two-day workshop on disaster management and anticipatory action in Saint Lucia. The workshop brought together people from different countries in the Caribbean and it was great to meet all of them and hear about their experiences. As well as being able to do some travelling.
What’s your work environment and culture like?
What I really enjoy about my work is that people are extremely friendly and accepting, but also that they are truly dedicated to their work. This can sometimes create an unhealthy relationship with work, with blurred lines on time spent at work etc. But I would say that is not the norm.
What extracurricular activities did you undertake at university and what transferable skills did you develop through these?
Whilst at York I was heavily involved in the student cinema. As it was essentially a business, I learned a lot about interacting with customers, and what kind of investments we need to make to keep the cinema relevant and useful for all students. I also was involved in a charity called East African Playgrounds. I went to Uganda twice with them and recruited York students for their programme. That was really useful in planning a campaign, giving training to others and enabling me to see a different career path. Lastly, I also worked as a research assistant in my department with one of my lecturers. That was really useful to help my manage my time, gain experience with specialised equipment and gave me an insight into research, something I did seriously consider as a career.
What would you like to do next with your career?
I would like to progress within my current field, becoming a project manager and gaining a project management qualification.
What top tips do you have for York students preparing for today’s job market and life after graduation?
Your degree is a good foundation, but your extracurricular activities are what are going to set you apart from the crowd. And don't worry if you don't land your perfect job, use that time to develop the skills you need for that perfect job, either in that job, or during your spare time. Then emphasise those skills when applying for your next career move. You might even find out your interests are not what you thought they were. If you don't have a "dream job", try stuff out, take some chances and eventually something will stick.
What topics from students are you happy to answer questions on?
Career in international development, volunteering, working abroad, doing a masters degree, using your extracurricular activities in job applications.
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