I am now starting my second week here, and I’m pretty much settled into the attic office in Twickenham where StreetInvest is based. Over the last week, I have been learning at an exponential rate – about the monitoring and evaluation process that an NGO goes through, collecting information on local schools to contact, reading through and critiquing the training modules actually used by StreetInvest with street workers, just to name a few of the things I’ve been up to. I am amazed at the trust that has been put into me this week, being involved in work that it actually useful to the charity. Although at first this was incredibly daunting, now it’s very exciting!
One of the most exciting things about my placement is applying skills and knowledge that I’ve learnt in the classroom to the work that I’m doing here. Some of that is geographical and directly related to degree modules, such as theories associated with participation in development. Some of it has been through exercising my A level in French whilst translating questionnaires from the Democratic Republic of Congo (with mixed success and some help from Google Translate!) and some of it has been through using tools that you don’t realise you’re being taught. A family friend told me, before coming to university, that employers don’t mind what subject you study as long as you learn to think. Although I’m sure that’s not always the case, I think I’m starting to understand what they meant. In a university context, you don’t realise that learning how to structure essays correctly and understand statistics will actually be of any use. But now, in a work context, I understand how helpful it is that I’ve been taught to change my writing style depending on the context, and how to work the dreaded Microsoft Excel!
In terms of how my dissertation is coming along – thankfully, in leaps and bounds! Being honest with you, before last week, I was concerned that my research topic was a bit of a flop, and that it wasn’t really something worth looking into. However, with access to StreetInvest’s databases and the first interview with someone who works for a network of children’s charities (the first of many more interviews I hope!), I am starting to feel like 10,000 words is never going to be enough to cover everything I’m finding out.
I am fantastically grateful to StreetInvest for having me here, and it’s been amazing to see first-hand the hard work that goes into running an organisation like it. I will be writing another post at the end of the week as my placement is finishing but for now, back to work!