Students offer their insights on work experience as part of studying in the School of International Development.
Sonja Klingberg, who has recently returned from her DWE placement in Uganda, explains:
"For this module I spent two months working with a long term HIV/AIDS research unit in rural Uganda between my second and third year. As it was my first encounter with ‘development in practice' I found it fascinating - and at times daunting - to observe and try to make sense of some of the central issues that other modules in my degree have approached from a more theoretical perspective."
"My work in Uganda mainly involved learning about, and assisting in, various activities of the research unit's community development project. In practice this meant engaging with members of the local community, as well as witnessing the work of various different actors including health workers, researchers, HIV/AIDS counsellors and youth facilitators. Throughout my placement I was encouraged to focus on activities that supported my studies, and matched my academic areas of interest."
Sonja Klingberg, BA International Development with Overseas Experience, 2008-11
Tom Herring talks about the project in Kyrgyzstan he joined for two months:
"For my Development Work Experience I spent two months in Kyrgyzstan, and my placement was on a project called PALM. The main goal of the project is to promote sustainable land management in the high Pamir and Pamir-Alai Mountains. I spent half of the time in villages in the Pamir and Alai mountains, and got to experience the implementation of the project first hand. This was a really valuable experience because it put into context many of the things I have learned in lectures over the previous 2 years; it made me realise the significance and value of the course on which I am studying. The other half of the time I spent in the project office in Osh, the city, carrying out tasks such as helping to plan a summer school for biology students from Osh University."
"Over the two months I also carried out my own research for my dissertation, about innovation of farmers in mountainous regions. It was quite difficult to find opportunities to collect data, and there wasn't a lot of time, but I managed to carry out 20 interviews with farmers from different wealth groups in two villages. One of the villages was only a couple of hours drive from the city and the other was a lot further and this seemed to be an important factor when it came to attitudes towards livelihood strategies."
"Agricultural innovation in Kyrgyzstan has been a really interesting subject to address, especially because of the post-Soviet setting, and the fact that the Kyrgyz have only been practicing settled agriculture for the last 100 years (about 4 generations) since they were forced by the Soviets to abandon their nomadic culture and adopt modern agricultural techniques. There has been little time to accumulate knowledge and adapt to managing resources and raise animals and crops effectively while being settled, especially seeing as for much of this time the country was under Soviet Rule where agricultural practice in the centrally planned economy was completely different to the present."
Tom Herring, BSc Environmental Geography and International Development, 2009-12.
Lovisa Lane visited Singapore to complete her development work experience placement:
"My overseas work placement was at the Banking With The Poor Network (BWTP) based in Singapore. BWTP is a major Microfinance network in Asia that aims to improve the people's quality of life."
"During my time there I worked on strategic planning, the preparation of monthly newsletters, administration, membership, capacity-building projects, and liaison with new donors."
"The placement improved my understanding for my degree and of practical aspects of development. I was also able to use skills which I had learnt from my studies at the School of International Development. Modules involving Economics, Social Anthropology, Politics, Gender and Data in Development Studies all played useful roles in my work experience."
"Being given this development work experience opportunity by the University has helped me more clearly define my interests and professional plans."
Lovisa Lane, BA International Development with Overseas Experience, 2009-12.
Ben Sargent undertook a volunteer work placement with Great Yarmouth Borough Council
"My placement at Great Yarmouth Borough Council provided the perfect opportunity to see firsthand the theory unfold that I had learnt in my first two years at university. I acquired new skills, ranging from team work, risk assessment generation to presentation skills, all of which have helped build my CV. Being part of the climate change adaptation project gave me an invaluable experience which has been useful academically for my final year, and practically for future employment."
"I am particularly grateful to have worked in an inspirational team on innovative and current development initiatives."
Ben Sargent, BA International Development, 2009-12.