Student Testimonials: Noah Levy and Bahja Alammari

Since its inception, CIRDI has employed more than 40 UBC students in research and project work. Our students come from diverse educational, professional and personal backgrounds, thereby enriching CIRDI’s work with their knowledge of different contexts and approaches. Here is what our students say about their experience at CIRDI.

 

~Noah Levy, UBC International Relations (Major)

Noah Levy, CIRDI’s Co-op Student

« During my summer 2019 Co-op term, I had an amazing opportunity to work with the Canadian International Resources and Development Institute (CIRDI). CIRDI is an international development institute with a focus on public sector capacity-building, environmental sustainability, and artisanal and small-scale mining. I was very happy to have landed a position so closely related to my international relations major at UBC and was excited to learn how international assistance programs are implemented in a practical sense.

My role at CIRDI was as a Knowledge Mobilization Researcher. This role was a perfect fit for my combined academic background in international relations and my professional background in communications. I produced detailed written material (project and research reports, briefing notes, English to French translations, policy briefs, knowledge products) for a wide policy audience (Global Affairs Canada, Ethiopian government officials, academics, civil society). The largest project I supported was the Supporting the Ministry of Mines (SUMM) Ethiopia project. I drafted a detailed public sector reform report based on the SUMM project in collaboration with team members in Ethiopia. This task required me to quickly familiarize myself with CIRDI’s most complex project, to synthesize documents, and to create an attractive document for an audience of foreign government officials.

I appreciated the variety of topics I engaged with. During my time with CIRDI, I’ve supported projects on local procurement in Namibia, mining governance and capacity-building in Argentina, artisanal and small-scale mining in Ethiopia, and transparency in BC’s mining sector. This variety of topics was both challenging and deeply engaging.

My work with CIRDI provided me an opportunity for professional growth. I gained an improved understanding of international assistance implementation that was in-depth and practical. I had exposure to Global Affairs Canada-funding processes, monitoring and evaluation, and performance measurement frameworks. Importantly, I also had the opportunity to work with a variety of people, all of whom engage in their work with passion and a commitment to excellence. My supervisors were highly supportive and took interest in my professional growth, which I greatly appreciated.

As my internship with CIRDI ends, I walk away with a greater understanding of international assistance work and the skills that are relevant to this field. Thanks to experience at CIRDI, I was accepted for an internship with the Embassy of Canada to Switzerland, and I am excited to gain professional international experience. Moving forward, I hope to pursue further studies in security and conflict management and to eventually work in policy or intelligence analysis roles. »

 

~Bahja Alammari, UBC Political Science (Honours) and Psychology

 

Bahja Alammari, CIRDI’s Work Learn Student

« My name is Bahja. I have recently graduated from UBC; I completed a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in Political Science (Honours program) and Psychology. At CIRDI, I worked with the Program Development team as a Researcher.

Throughout my studies at UBC, I had the chance to explore several issues and topics that I had hoped I could engage in after graduation. Finishing my degree, I had no clear plan for after graduation. I knew that I wanted to spend some time exploring jobs and career possibilities that were related to the issues and topics of my interest.

At the beginning of this year, I came across an open Work Learn position at CIRDI. Working with the Program Development team here at CIRDI seemed like a great experience that would offer me exposure to different sectors and allow me to further develop some of the skills I’ve gained during my undergrad.

As part of the Program Development team, I’ve worked on several tasks and projects, from scanning and researching for potential funding opportunities, assisting with project proposals, conducting background research, to drafting policy position pieces. I’ve also helped produce reports and carried out a competitor’s analysis to support the unit’s strategic planning and outreach strategies.

The two Work Learn terms I’ve completed with CIRDI were invaluable to my professional skill development. I’ve gained great exposure to the natural resource governance and mining sectors (artisanal and small-scale mining, in particular) through supporting various development initiatives. My experience with CIRDI allowed me to refine my research and analytical skills through working on real-world projects and initiatives, as opposed to the theoretical contexts often offered in the classroom.

The unit’s approach to building and strengthening relations with strategic partners and the volume of work done to support that was quite eye-opening for me. My experience with CIRDI taught me the importance of understanding an organization’s values, service offerings, and needs, and how necessary that is for ensuring successful collaboration among team members and with other partners.

For the past couple of months, I’ve learned so much from being part of the Program Development team and working collaboratively with other teams to support CIRDI. I’ve also learned how to take ownership of work and how to better balance working independently with being part of a team.

Through my experience with CIRDI, I’ve developed some essential skills needed for a career in international development, and several transferable skills that are needed across various sectors. »

 

Published on September 5, 2019

Stay tuned for new Work Learn & Co-op opportunities!

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