My advice for International Development students

Student Barrett Alexander sitting in classroom
Barrett Alexander
Senior program manager, World Vision
International Development MA
Barrett came to Sheffield from the States after wanting to study a Masters which offered hands on, practical experience and research.

I graduated from Sheffield in January 2013 and now I work for World Vision as a Senior Program Manager for humanitarian and emergency affairs. I lead all of World Vision US’s World Food Programme funding, which consists of about 90 different projects spread over 24 different countries.

When I was looking around at universities in the States there wasn’t much that offered the hands on, practical experience and research that the MA here did. And so when it came down to it, it really was a pretty easy decision for me.

The last three months of the programme I was placed with a UK-based NGO called Restless Development and I worked on a monitoring evaluation consultancy with them. I helped them out with their baseline and some of their monitoring data, but I also got to pair that with doing my thesis research on youth political participation in Sierra Leone.

People need to think of the hard skills they want to develop at university. In my case I knew that I wanted to manage humanitarian aid programmes. Research wasn’t my niche field; I wanted to be hands-on on the ground doing work.

I think establishing that level of thinking while you’re in university - to prepare your next steps where you want to look for an internship, or fellowship scheme afterwards - is a very practical step forward.

I loved my time at the University of Sheffield. I have met some lifelong friends. We get together almost on a yearly basis. People travel from all over the world to get together and reminisce about our time at Sheffield.

I personally tell all my interns at World Vision you need to go study in the UK. For Americans, you need to get out of the bubble a little bit and see the world and use a British or UK university as a way to open that door. I couldn't be more proud of my education here.

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