I think the MPhil was an excellent launching platform to develop my interest in African politics and development, and it also gave me the contacts to search effectively for work. I worked for research consultancies in South Sudan for a while, including for the Agency for Technical Cooperation and Development (ACTED), as part of their REACH project. REACH aims to enhance decision making and planning capacity for emergency, reconstruction and development contexts, by conducting research on humanitarian aid.
I think spending a lot of time studying and thinking about the difficulties inherent in the development project and the multiple consequences of actions by outsiders in this sphere helped me to be prepared for the reality of aid work, which is full of difficult choices and doubts about your impact or lack thereof on the countries you work in. The focus on Africa gave me a better cultural understanding and awareness of the continent on which I live, and the incentive to learn more about South Sudan itself rather than just focusing on the job at hand. Finally, I studied Sudan in one of my option courses, and this has been directly relevant to my work. The historical and political understanding of the context in which I find myself has been invaluable and knowing the history is a important way to avoid faux pas that could result in volatile situations. Having the time and space to increase and deepen my knowledge was an excellent base from which to go out into the world and start my career. Added to which there were lots of opportunities to have interesting conversations with people with similar interests to mine!
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