For every Master’s Open Day, we welcome prospective students and give them a general overview of the programme and its seven specialisations. We also invite our alumni to share their views on how the programme prepared them for their careers in international development, among others. On our latest Open Day in March 2020, we caught up with two alumni who reflected on the programme and their careers to-date.
Welcome back and thank you for taking the time to visit us! Let’s first have a brief round of introductions.
NA: My name is Nassim Aba, I work at the Royal Dutch Football Association (KNVB) as a Project Coordinator for development programmes, which we do in coordination with the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. I graduated in cohort 2015-2016.
RK: My name is Raphael Kamp, I also graduated in 2015-2016 and I did the Migration specialisation. I am currently working for a municipality in Germany on a project for refugee integration, combined with social planning and district management.
How did our Master’s programme prepare you, in various ways and means, for your careers?
RK: The programme as a whole and the migration specialisation specifically are very labour intensive. They require lots of dedication and smooth coordination with fellow students for group work. Overall the MPP has taught me how to approach multi-stakeholder projects and deliver them within the deadline.
NA: On top of the content that we learned during the programme, I want to stress that a key element for me was intercultural communication. Every MPP classroom is an international classroom. I learned to incorporate different perspectives and work with people from different cultural backgrounds. This was one of the most useful things I took away from the programme. Given that my role involves travelling, working on international projects, engaging with people from different backgrounds, my time working with students from around the world has prepared me nicely to thrive in this international setting.
The quantitative track is particularly challenging. Why should you study statistics if you want to work in public policy?
NA: I came from a humanities background; I have a BA in International Studies and I was looking for a practical, hands-on programme. What really hooked me was how the MPP really focuses on public policy analysis and data science. Looking back now, the most valuable things that I learned were the quantitative skills because they nicely complemented my previous education. Being able to work with statistics and data science was useful in my previous job and I am sure it will help in my current role.
RK: I have never been a fan of quantitative data analysis. I struggled with it during the programme, as I did not have any courses on it during my Bachelor’s. While I don’t use it much in my current job and, for me, it wasn’t the most important takeaway, I do accept that understanding it is important.
Any final thoughts?
RK: One of the most important elements I took away from the MPP was the international experience. Learning intercultural understanding is crucial for my job given I am working one-to-one with refugees from different countries and backgrounds. Also, the MPP really increased my time-management skills and made me a better problem-solver.
NA: An important lesson I learned while doing the MPP is that the views that I grew up with are not necessarily the same across the world. Learning to work amid cultural diversity is a key skill for an international career. You can only learn this in an international classroom setting like the one provided by the MPP.
The opinions expressed here are the authors’ own; they do not necessarily reflect the views of UNU.