Studying Geography at Sheffield cemented my interest in international development
Tell us about your role - what do you do?
I work as a Project Administrator at the Overseas Development Institute (ODI). ODI is an International Development think tank working to inspire people to act on injustice and inequality. My role sits within the project management team on the Development and Public Finance team. My job is to assist project managers in the running of different research and technical advisory projects on aid and finance in lots of countries such as Mali, Uganda and Liberia.
Why did you decide to study Geography, and why did you choose Sheffield?
I chose to study Geography because I've always been interested in other countries, other cultures and I've always been passionate about international development. I chose Sheffield because the course offered a lot of opportunity to tailor the modules to suit my interests. I was able to pick mainly human Geography modules and modules in development and people focussed topics. I also chose Sheffield because of the opportunity to go to abroad in my second year.
What has your career path been since graduation?
When I graduated I moved to Manchester with some friends and got the first job I could. This ended up being in a recruitment company, which I enjoyed but I was not interested in the industry at all. I applied for a voluntary position at a small International Development charity and still volunteer for them 3 years on. After working in recruitment for 2 years I was made redundant during the pandemic. I applied for a job at ODI, an international development charity and think tank. I have now been at ODI for a year.
How did studying Geography help you get to where you are now?
Studying Geography at Sheffield cemented my interest in international development and influenced my desire to work in the sector. My first job after graduating was not in the charity sector. However when I applied for a job at ODI I got the role largely because of studying geography and taking part in the module involving a trip to Uganda which demonstrated my interest in the subject. The course also equipped me with the knowledge needed for my voluntary position at international development charity Made with Hope.
What made your time in Sheffield special?
Sheffield was an amazing place to study. It's a great city, not too big, so all your friends live close by and you get to know a lot of people. A lot of my friends I met through the course are still my best friends now.
What advice would you give to new students in the department?
My advice would be to volunteer. I think people underestimate the role that volunteering can have in your career prospects. If you can find a voluntary position in your sector or that offers transferable skills it can really work in your favour when looking for work after graduating. Volunteering demonstrates your passion and commitment to something and can speak for itself if your employment experience is not enough to meet requirements. I also think that no experience is irrelevant or bad experience, even a job you don't like or feel isn't relevant to where you want to go, will help you get there.