Rapid Response Team member
“If you want to be work in the field of emergency aid you should acquire an internship and learn an extra language in addition to English,” recommends Annelies Ollieuz, who coordinates education on emergency situations for the Norwegian Refugee Council/UNICEF.
- What are the most important aspects of your job?
– As a member of the Rapid Response Team I spend 60% of my time working abroad. I travel at short notice, within 48 hours if necessary, in order to coordinate education requirements in emergency situations. This can involve identifying needs or coordinating UN organisations and international and national NGOs who patriciate in actual response, normally in conjunction with the Ministry of Education in the country concerned. The latter is what I am doing in Damascus, where I have been for the last five months.
- What do you like most about your job?
– I really appreciate the combination of working in the field and working on a global scale. Initiatives which are taken at global level are not always adapted to suit the situation in the field. The fact that I travel backwards and forwards between both levels means that I can ensure that the support that is given to colleagues in the field is actually adapted to suit their requirements.
- Out of everything you learnt at the Faculty, what has been most useful to you in this job?
– My experiences in the field are very important for my job. I have learnt to see situations from the perspective of the local population. This is very useful when I have to make decisions fairly quickly after a natural or some other type of disaster. I have also learnt to process large quantities of documents. This is useful when I am about to familiarise myself with a new context in a short amount of time. A research report, either large or small, is produced every time I identify requirements in the field, so I think that generally speaking my research background is very useful.
- What’s your best tip for new students who are concerned about their job opportunities after graduation?
– If you are interested in working in the field of aid or emergency aid, you should acquire an internship as part of your studies or immediately afterwards. It is not easy to become involved in this type of work. There are many applicants and normally you need relevant work experience with an NGO or UN organisation in the field - and field work does not count. Otherwise I would recommend everyone to learn an extra language, in addition to English. Right now the humanitarian world is crying out for experienced emergency relief workers who can speak French (for the Sahel region) or Arabic (for the Syrian crisis).