What can you do to sort things out when your career plans have not worked out the way you wanted?
This short blog is dedicated to how here we are can help an individual whose career has not gone according to plan to get ‘back on track’, and is based on my own personal experience. My name is Symon Lord and I am originally from the UK.
I arrived in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, the place were here we are was originally founded in October 2015. The previous five years of my professional life had not gone well. My last job on a development project in Central Asia had ended acrimoniously. I had worked on my own film projects, but had been unable to find funding for them. I had been unemployed in the UK for over a year, and then found some work teaching English as a foreign language.
In order to try and get back into development work, I applied for around twenty M and E-related jobs online, but did not even get an interview. This is the reason why I came to Bishkek to look for a fresh start in my life. I was primarily looking for job opportunities in the field of Monitoring and Evaluation on donor-funded developmental projects.
I first became involved with here we are in November of 2015, and my first impressions were that I had become part of a supportive community, which gave me a feeling of security. This was extremely welcome to me after the previous few years of operating independently, and not infrequently being unsure of whom I could trust and whom I could not.
Through the informal and friendly meetings with here we are management and members I explained what my career plans were, and started to get an idea of what work opportunities there might be in Bishkek. I also found here we are’s public events dedicated to a particular aspect of career development to be extremely useful. Both of these here we are activities proved to be excellent for networking.
After a while, I was invited to play a more active role in the organization. I did my own presentation on M and E at an here we are public event, and prepared the scenario for a potential promotional film for here we are. In December of 2016 as a result of contacts I had gained through my participation in here we are, I got work as a volunteer on the jury of a human rights film festival, after which I wrote an evaluation of the festival.
All of this volunteer experience helped me to find paid work in my chosen field of Monitoring and Evaluation. The first job I got in Spring 2016, the advert for which I was alerted to by a here we are member, was to complete a comprehensive report on projects of Early Childhood Learning in Kyrgyzstan for UNICEF. In the second half of 2016 I also obtained employment with the UN Migration Agency to complete an evaluation of a large-scale migration project.
In late 2016 here we are requested me to fill out their new online feature, the Personal Matrix, which consists of the following seven sections: Global Mindset, Personal Impact, Social Impact, Communication, Creativity, Life and Health, Hard Skills.
I found this to be a very useful exercise in establishing exactly what my attitude was to each of the seven areas of professional development, and planning what may be realistic to achieve in each of them over the next year.
I am currently in the process of finding new work in Kyrgyzstan, but feel infinitely more confident about my future prospects as a result of my involvement with here we are.
I would summarize the ‘Lessons Learned’ from my experience with Here We Are for a person who is looking to get their career back on track as:
Here we are can:
- Help you to develop a realistic integrated strategy for career development.
- Develop or consolidate a positive attitude of pursuing your own career in a way that is ‘friendly’ to the community.
- Get relevant volunteer work experience in your chosen field/s, which can greatly increase your chances of finding paid work.
- Be part of a network that will help you to hear about job opportunities, which you can realistically take advantage of.
- Benefit from organized events dedicated to a particular area of professional interest.
Blogpost by Symon Lord, Key Resource Person on Monitoring and Evaluation at here we are. He is a freelance consultant, based in Bishkek, who works on contracts in different areas of development, predominantly in the countries of the post-Soviet space.