Communication for Development Specialist
UNICEF, Burkina Faso
Nationality: United Kingdom
Education: BA, University of Sussex (UK); MA, Comillas University (Spain)
Field of Study: American Literature, International Development
Languages: English, French, Spanish, Portuguese
“I would say that my experience at UNICEF has been life changing, enlightening, challenging and rewarding. The organisation has very much moulded me into the person I am today. ”
I joined UNICEF in February 2005. When I first saw the advertisement for an internship with UNICEF, the logo immediately caught my attention and I recognised it as the logo for the world’s leading children’s organisation. I remember thinking that I wanted to be part of an organisation leading the way for the fulfilment and protection of child rights all over the world. I started as an External Communications Intern, and after holding several other positions I am now a Communication for Development Specialist. In 2010 I started with the position in Burkina Faso, supporting all aspects related to UNICEF programmes and undertaking communication tasks.
A typical day for me is very busy. After checking in with colleagues in the morning to see if there are any pressing issues, I work with organisations submitting proposals to UNICEF to support them in strengthening their proposals. I participate in the development of communication tools, supporting government partners and NGOs developing print and audio-visual material. I can also be called on during the day for external communication tasks. In addition, I am involved in two studies that are in the process of finalisation. I take on the role of coordinator – handling administrative issues related to the consultant’s contract, participating in the training of those carrying out the questionnaires, reviewing content of the provisional studies, and ensuring that feedback from the multi-sectorial committees in the office is provided to the consultants so that the final version of the studies can be improved.
My best experience working for UNICEF so far has been training NGO partners on the family practices in Guinea-Bissau and seeing them implement this knowledge exchange in their activities with communities. On the other hand, one of the challenges I face in my job is that sometimes it can be difficult to measure and collect information on the impact of UNICEF-supported communication interventions using simple written tools that have been developed due to literacy limitations. To overcome this we need to look for other methods such as using images to monitor. There is also the challenge of sharing knowledge on the benefits of family practices without seeming to “attack” traditional and cultural values.
My advice to aspiring UNICEF applicants – Share your ideas and be dynamic. Don’t be afraid to innovate. Open yourself to other cultures. Bring your own experiences from other organisations and countries to the organisation; it strengthens UNICEF. Be ready to perform to the best of your ability, UNICEF is a challenging organisation. Take the time to get to know your colleagues and laugh with them, it makes your team whole. Hold the mission dear and believe in what you are doing – always remember that you are making a difference.