Internships – the way to go
Before Andreas Rugova got a job in the Norwegian Refugee Council, he had three internships in various organizations. According to Andreas, internships are essential for gaining a foothold in the humanitarian and development aid sector.
Many of Andreas' subjects from studies are applicable for his work (photo: private)
Andreas Rugova holds a position as project coordinator in the Norwegian Refugee Council, in the staffing force for NORCAP. NORCAP consists of more than 1000 women and men, from all over the world, who at short notice can travel abroad and assist the UN, international organizations, regional institutions and national authorities in humanitarian disasters.
– I work as a project coordinator in two large projects, Andreas says. – I cooperate with project managers, a team and a large group of experts, and together we work for our client which is the UN. I'm coordinating and handling matters relating to administration and budget. We have a contract with the UN, and my job is to ensure that both the UN and NRC keep their part of the agreement.
– Do you get to use your education in your job?
– Yes, absolutely, says Andreas. – Our projects comprises protection programs and gender equality programs in humanitarian situations. We monitor, and then establish a framework for assessing performance measurement and evaluation. Fields of study from my master's degree, like international human rights law, humanitarian law and refugee law are very relevant for my work. Protection is also common in these subjects. In addition, I have studied Gender Equality in Humanitarian Action. Many subjects from my studies I can apply at work. But skills in project management I have learned along the way.
Andreas has a bachelor's degree in development studies from Sweden and a master's degree in Human Rights from Oslo. Both degrees are interdisciplinary, which he thinks is important in his job.
– Economic history and geography was a part of the development studies in Sweden, explains Andreas. – During the Human Rights master's, we studied society, law and philosophy. All my higher level education has been interdisciplinary, and in my job now I apply knowledge from interdisciplinary fields every day.
– The critical perspective one learns in Scandinavian education, has also been very useful, says Andreas.
Another thing Andreas learned in his studies is to be proactive.
– When you're part of humanitarian work and aid, it is important to be proactive and seize opportunities, he advises. – In this field, the opportunities will not come to you, you have to look for them yourself and take the opportunities you can.
Trainee – for better or worse
Andreas believes that the best way into this field of work is by being an intern. At the University of Oslo, there are many internship programs. He himself got his internships through UiO's lists.
– For a long time I wanted to work in the Norwegian Refugee Council, and when I got an internship there I was very active and took on different responsibilities, says Andreas. – I showed a willingness to work as much as possible, he says. But Andreas is not only positive about internships and working for free. In the development assistance industry in particular, there are many organizations that utilize free labor through these schemes.
– But there are positive sides to internships: when you first enter a place as an intern, you get an opportunity to make yourself noticed. And in NRC, there are people who started there as interns, and then worked their way up, and eventually got a permanent job, he says.
The internship at the Norwegian Refugee Council was his third internship, the former two were at a Swedish NGO and at the United Nations. He started in NRC as an intern in 2019 and stayed there until the summer. After the summer, he got a part time position as a project assistant while he was completing his master's degree. After finishing studies, he became project coordinator with additional responsibilities.
– I do not have a permanent position yet, but I am currently in negotiations. Unfortunately, there are many short time and temporary assignments in humanitarian work, he says.
When asked what Andreas envisions next in his career, he answers that he wants to work in the field. He wants to be more directly involved in humanitarian work and people in need, and lead projects where he can cooperate local actors on protection.
– What I do now is typical head office work, but ideally I would prefer to be out doing fieldwork. Maybe as project manager for various NCR projects, or for a UN office, he concludes.
Name: Andreas Rugova
Age: 29 years
Study: Master in Theory and Practice in Human Rights, from UiO and Development Studies from Lund University, Sweden
Finished studies: 2020
Workplace and position: Project coordinator in the Norwegian Refugee Council