Why did you want to work for CARE?
I was really interested in joining an organisation that was well respected in international development and aid but also was involved in emergency response. I was particularly drawn to CARE’s approach to empowering women to fight poverty and social injustice.
What did you do before joining CARE?
When I finished university I worked as an intern for the United Nations Office of the Recovery Coordinator in Indonesia’s Aceh province, as the UN was wrapping up its tsunami relief work. Following that, I worked as a project development associate for the International Organisation for Migration in Jakarta, Indonesia.
Did these experiences help you in your current role?
Definitely. Taking up volunteer roles – particularly overseas – is generally how you get a start in this sector. I wanted to gain first-hand experience of working in a developing country and to get a better understanding of some of the social, cultural, political and economic issues that prevent people from lifting themselves out of poverty.
My work in Indonesia, along with university research I did in Timor-Leste, helped me get a sense of these issues and get a better understanding of the challenges in international development, as well as some of the opportunities. It also helped me better explain some of the issues when talking to people about them here in Australia.
How does the program work?
There isn’t a formal grad program here, rather there’s a good induction and support pathway. When you come in – whether as an intern, volunteer or staff – you are assigned a buddy who really supports you. There are a number of online resources and guides that you can work through at your own pace as well, which I found really useful when I started and numerous internal training programs. We also have a mentoring program, which has really supported me in my professional development.
What do you do?
I coordinate CARE Australia’s Asia Pacific team. We work on projects in Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Myanmar, Papua New Guinea, Timor-Leste and Vanuatu. My main role is managing the delivery of Australian-funded projects – mainly through the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade but some are through private donors. The projects include education, health, helping people earn an income and prepare for disasters along with climate change adaptation and women’s empowerment. I work with colleagues, partner organisations and donors to ensure that aid money is being spent effectively and that our projects are supporting women and their communities to overcome poverty and social injustice.
Best thing about your job?
Being able to meet the people we are working for. Talking directly with families and hearing how their lives have improved as a direct result of CARE’s work is really rewarding. Additionally, I also enjoy working for a diverse organisation with people who are experts in their field.
However, the emotional toll can be a bit confronting. When I was visiting a nutrition program in Timor-Leste, I met an incredibly malnourished child, which was quite challenging. Sometimes the worst happens and people are killed in horrible events like natural disasters. We deal with it as best as we can, but sometimes things are beyond our control.
Tips for graduates?
Having experience working in a developing country is essential for people looking to get into international development and aid work.