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In the second of our blogs about students’ recent experiences during their Work Based Learning placements, we spoke to Economics and International Development Studies student Ophelia, who was lucky enough to gain a placement in the Democratic Republic of Congo earlier this summer.

What organisation did you work with, and in what role?

"I worked for the United Nations Populations Fund (UNFPA) in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). My main duties were monitoring and evaluating the staff's missions and ensuring that they submitted their mission report and recommendations. I was also helping the communications team with the translation of videos and documents from French to English. When the Executive Director of UNFPA came to DRC, I also helped the Gender Based Violence team organise her dinner with women leaders of DRC and her visit to a local hospital. I was chosen by the office to welcome her at her hotel which was a great honour. It was so amazing to personally meet her and the regional director who thanked me for my hard work."

How did you organise the placement?

"My mother knows someone from UNFPA New York who gave her the contact of the deputy representative in DRC. She mentioned that I was looking for a placement and the deputy representative asked for my CV. After seeing it, he offered me the placement and told me to come meet him to discuss certain things. After that first interaction my placement was secured."

How did you find the experience and how do you think it’s benefitted you?

"It was challenging but very rewarding too. With the Executive Director (ED)'s visit, the entire office was under stress to make sure everything was planned. Because of that, there were some tasks I had to do under pressure. I believe I also improved my communication and teamwork skills because I had to make sure that certain things were going to happen and to do that I had to work with my colleagues and communicate to them effectively. I also improved in perseverance and motivation because I had ideas about the way certain things should go and by discussing them with others I was able to motivate them.

My placement has prepared me for my future career because it has given me experience of working in an office and interacting with colleagues. I enjoyed learning about the UNFPA's mandate and it has really inspired me to continue there and make a difference in DRC and the world."

What advice do you have for anyone undertaking a placement in the future?

"Always remember you are capable of doing great things in your placement. I never knew I was going to meet the Executive Director before starting and I ended up meeting her and talking to her. Also never doubt your worth because you are great and will do amazing things."

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