Graduated: MSc in Economic History (2004)
Occupation: Contracts Administrator for LeapFrog Enterprises, Inc.
Subscribe by RSS
Subscribe by email
Find LSE Careers online
Sep 1 2014
Graduated: MSc in Economic History (2004)
Occupation: Contracts Administrator for LeapFrog Enterprises, Inc.
Sep 1 2014
We’re having some technical problems which mean that LSE students may not be able to log onto CareerHub to book appointments and view events and job opportunities.
We are working hard to resolve these problems as quickly as possible and hope that everything will be back up and running later today. In the meantime, if you would like to book an appointment with a careers consultant, give us a call on +44 (0)20 7955 7135 or email firstname.lastname@example.org and we will be happy to help.
Aug 27 2014
We’re currently having some technical problems which mean that LSE alumni may not be able to log onto CareerHub to book appointments and view events and job opportunities.
If you already have a public account or know your alumni ID, you will still be able to log in. If not, and you would like to book to see a careers consultant or need information about LSE Careers services, give us a call on +44 (0)20 7955 7135 or email email@example.com and we will be happy to help.
Rest assured that we are working hard to resolve these problems and will let you know shortly when everything is working again.
Aug 26 2014
Guest Blog by Markus Gnirck, COO Startupbootcamp FinTech.
Recent reports by Accenture and Ernst & Young [pdf] have shown that London is the international hub for FinTech (Financial Technologies). The UK in general is a uniquely well-suited location for technology applied to financial services. Deal volumes have been growing at 74 percent a year since 2008, compared to 27 percent globally and 13 percent in Silicon Valley.
The strengths of the UK are:
Aug 22 2014
This blog entry originally posted on the Favelas@LSE blog.
‘Slum tourism’ is a growing trend in ‘exotic’ and ‘yet-to-develop’ contexts. In this post, Jessica Aquino discusses her research into the psychosocial impact of the interaction between tourists and favela dwellers on favela communities. By comparing the impact of volunteer tourism and slum tourism, she shows that while the former has the potential to foster self-esteem and community pride, the latter tends to reinforce negative representations of the favela.
There has been increasing news coverage about Brazil because of the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympic games, and tourism is predicted to increase in Brazil because of these events. Slum tourism has gained popularity over the years, directing attention toward its impact on the community. However, a study on the effects of volunteer tourism on slum communities has been lacking. To bridge this gap, in 2011 we conducted such a study on volunteer tourism in Rio de Janeiro, tapping into how community residents feel about tourism vis-à-vis their pride and self-esteem.
Volunteer tourism is defined as the process of involving visitors as “volunteer[s] in an organized way to undertake holidays that might involve aiding or alleviating the material poverty of some groups in society, the restoration of certain environments or research into aspects of society or environment” (Wearing, 2001: 1). In the case of Rio de Janeiro, many favela-based NGOs have organised themselves to help alleviate some of the effects of poverty and, to this end, have chosen to work with volunteer tourists. Volunteer tourists interact directly with the community in a range of roles such as language teachers, sports and physical activity coaches or tutors, with others working on refurbishing the NGOs or building community gardens.
For comparison purposes, we contrasted the effects of volunteer tours against those of slum tours, which are short guided tours through a community. Slum tours are described by some tourism agencies as an ethical or alternative way of visiting slum communities while creating encounters that promote mutual understanding and respect. However, researchers have argued that just like other forms of tourism, it does not automatically create a positive cross-cultural experience, may not be as ethical as claimed, may reinforce stereotypes, and turn community residents into a commodity (Freire-Medeiros, 2009).
Volunteer tourists: friendship, community pride and knowledge exchange
Both the NGOs and community groups agreed that they enjoyed working with volunteer tourists and saw the benefits of volunteer tourism. While some indications of negative impact were found, here we focus on the constructive perceptions of the community.
Community members expressed that they had made life-long friendships and hoped to get to know more volunteers in the future. One community member explains it best when asked about how she felt about the volunteer tourists in her community:
I think it’s wonderful, because through that everyone has the opportunity to exchange experiences; make new friends. From there a world opens up for you, the doors open for you, because you sometimes make a friendship in a short time but it is for the rest of your life…. (24 year old female from Rocinha)
According to the accounts of favela residents the contact between volunteer tourists and community members also stimulated self-esteem and community pride. For example, many mentioned that they enjoyed hosting volunteers in their community because they have a chance to show them all the good things about their community and about themselves, which is often conflicting with media portrayal of the favela. They acknowledged that those in power are the ones creating the images of their community. By having volunteer tourists in the favela and presenting their community to them, favela dwellers are able to offer their own image to the rest of the world and challenge outside representations. Volunteers, in turn, may help empower the community by actively trying to get to know its residents and by later spreading the word about their experiences.
The community especially valued the exchange of knowledge and ideas with volunteer tourists. It was reported that volunteers not only come to work and teach, but that it is more of an exchange of ideas in which the knowledge held by the community is also valued and considered on equal footing to that of outsiders. This exchange is seen as reciprocal: the community learns just as much from the volunteers as the volunteers learn from them.As one of the residents noted:
Very important. This exchange of information, and of experiences, this exchange in life habits, is very enriching for us, to the children and I believe that it is to [volunteers] too; it’s an experience that they acquire here too…(60+ year old woman volunteer from Barreira do Vasco)
Brief comparison with favela tours
The perception of volunteer tours as largely beneficial stands in stark contrast to how the community perceived favela tours. For example, because of the aforementioned ‘exchange’, the community felt that there was equality between the volunteers and the community, whereas in their accounts they referred to favela tours mostly as exploitive of the community. Similarly, when observing slum tours, we noticed that on some guided tours community members would try to talk to the tourist but because of the language barrier they could not establish a dialogue. Within volunteer tourism, in contrast, volunteers were able to circumvent the language barrier by spending more time interacting and using other forms of communication such as hand signals, pictures, and others who could translate.
Our findings show that volunteer tourism helps recreate the negative way favelas are often portrayed by fostering a more realistic social representation, thereby improving self-esteem in the community, helping break down preconceptions, and aiding in creating community pride. Favela residents feel as equals with the volunteers and describe their interactions as friendships, sharing of cultural experiences, and exchanging of knowledge.
Conversely, while some residents noted the economic significance of favela tours to the community, the majority of them described favela tours as dehumanizing and felt that their community was being sold as a commodity. “We are not an attraction” stated a 32 year old woman from Barreira do Vasco, echoing expressions from other residents who referred to favela tours as ‘safari tour’ or ‘zoo tour’.
Overall, community members saw more positive benefits with, and preferred volunteer tourism over, favela tours. They felt that the more time a person spent working or interacting in their community the more able they were to understand their realities. Slum tourists, unfortunately, only see what the tour guides want them to see.
Freire-Medeiros, B. (2009). The favela and its touristic transits. Geoforum, 40(4), 580-588.
Wearing, S. (2001). Volunteer tourism: experiences that make a difference. Wallingford: CABI Publishing.
Dr Jessica Aquino is a Postdoctoral Scholar at the School of Community Resources and Development, Arizona State University. Her research focuses on tourism experiences from the perspective of residents and tourists and the potential contribution that tourism has on community development and conservation of protected areas.
Professor Kathleen Andereck is the director of the School of Community Resources and Development at Arizona State University, where she is also a Senior Sustainability Scientist with the Global Institute for Sustainability. Her research focuses on tourism experience from the perspective of both visitors and residents, particularly as it applies to sustainable community tourism development.
The views expressed on this post belong solely to the author and should not be taken as the opinion of the Favelas@LSE Blog nor of the LSE.
Aug 22 2014
Ruth Taylor, who is coming to LSE to undertake an MSc in Human Rights in October, is currently volunteering in Ghana as KickStart Ghana’s Volunteer Coordinator. She is blogging about her experiences and some issues facing the overseas volunteering sector. You can view the original blog here.
Let me ask you. How many times have you logged onto Facebook and been greeted with a newly-updated profile picture of one of your friends, volunteer-smile intact, affectionately cuddling a small, rather grubby-looking child, from an unknown African nation? Once? Twice? Too many times to recall?
If you haven’t experienced it personally, you’ll probably be aware of the growing phenomenon sweeping schools, colleges and Universities across the Western world. In search of adventure and a desire to break normalcy, our young people, during their gap years or summer holidays, are jetting off to volunteer (more often than not, with children) in countries across the Global South… It’s become a craze. Like over-reliance on Apple products and an addiction to Starbucks, voluntourism is becoming something by which this generation is being defined. It’s almost come to be seen as a rite of passage (albeit for the relatively well-off) – something you do before, during or after University. Something which will ‘set you apart’ and help you land your £40k-starting-salary graduate job.
Let me ask you another question. How would you react if the craze was reversed? Would you allow your children, your younger brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews, to appear as the photo fodder within a Kenyan’s profile picture, an Ethiopian’s, a Cambodian’s? Would you be ok with letting the young people close to you feature in the strange online societal competition of foreigners, where you wear your profile picture with a small child of a different skin colour as a badge of honour, boasting about the fact that you – you noble and benevolent being – have volunteered abroad? I have a feeling we might be slightly less agreeable than others across the world and so starts my second blog for the summer – the complexity of volunteering with children and the complicated way we, in the West, appear to have different ideas and ideals about what’s acceptable with regards working with young people, depending on where in the world they live.
As I mentioned in my previous post for KickStart, the world of international volunteering is a murky one, although all too often volunteers and potential volunteers view it through rose-tinted glasses. When we consider volunteering abroad specifically with children, the situation becomes murkier still, what with child protection and welfare, the complexity of cross-cultural teaching and learning and a whole host of other ethical issues regarding the suitability of (usually) unqualified volunteers working with (largely) vulnerable young people. It is a topic which is receiving far too little attention.
The image of the happy, white Westerner, surrounded by the beaming faces of black children has become the snapshot associated with what it means to volunteer abroad (put it into google and tell me I’m wrong!). Accompanied by the emotive language of voluntourism websites, it is not a surprise that volunteering your time on child-specific projects is the most popular form of volunteering abroad today.
I’m as fond of children as the next person and if given the opportunity to play with kids from any nation for a couple of weeks I’d have a hard time turning it down, but arguably as the most vulnerable individuals within any society, surely these children deserve a little bit more structured thinking? How exactly is the best way to support their development and learning? Who exactlyis the right person to do this for the upmost benefit of the child? What potential damage could be being done to these kids if the project was to go wrong or just be plain neglectful? By sending out our well-intentioned but unqualified and inexperienced 18 year olds, are we actually actively harming the very children we are so carelessly flaunting on our profile pages?
A recent experiment saw me take to the internet and the websites of five of the biggest voluntourism companies to see how long it would take for me, a 23 year old white female graduate, with a smidgen of teaching experience, to sign up and volunteer with children abroad. The average was under 90 seconds. 90 seconds with not a single question about who I am and why I’d be a good person to work with kids. I could be anyone, anyone, with any sort of horrific motivation for wanting to spend unsupervised time with children. Obviously, in the vast majority of cases, volunteers wishing to work with children are simply young people with a desire to improve the situations of other young people living lives very different to their own. However, there are incidences of people with far darker intentions having the opportunity to volunteer with children abroad, where they are unlikely to undergo any criminal records checks, be supervised whilst on project or ultimately, be traced if an indecency is suspected. Would this ever even be a possibility in the UK? The answer is a resounding no! To volunteer with children at home, you first have to wade through thousands of proverbial miles of red tape – why do we think children in other countries should have anything but the same level of security?
Through my research, I also found that the majority of voluntourism organisations do not require volunteers to have any level of experience, let alone qualifications to volunteer with children, whether in a school or a residential care institution. Can you ever imagine this being the norm in the UK? How many times have you seen a plane full of well-intentioned but unqualified, 18 year old Nepalese young people flood UK schools or residential care homes to ‘teach’ our children? My guess would be not that often! This begs the question of why we feel people have to be trained and educated to a fairly high standard to work with English children, but the same does not apply when considering children growing up across the Global South. What kinds of assumptions, whether conscious or subconscious, are we making and thus basing our actions upon? Do we really believe, as our actions seem to depict, that as Westerners, even if uneducated, we are somehow more innately qualified to care for children and know what is best for them, than their own teachers, nursery nurses, even parents? Or, worse still, do we think that the children of Africa, Asia and South America are somehow deserving of a lesser standard of care? If, like most people, you balk at both of these ideas, then maybe it is about time our actions changed to mirror what we claim to believe.
When considering the sometimes disastrous consequences of overseas volunteering with regards the emotional and physical wellbeing of children, it is all too easy to conclude that all projects involving children should be stopped altogether, preventing the problems from ever even being a possibility. Although a firm critic of many projects abroad involving children, I adamantly believe that if done correctly, in conjunction with local stakeholders and with the benefit of the child firmly situated at the heart of any decision, projects which bring together Western volunteers and local children can be hugely effective for both parties.
Over the five years I’ve been involved with KickStart Ghana, our attitude and practices regarding volunteering with children have developed dramatically. I find it really encouraging looking back and seeing how, as an organisation, we have become more impactful through our work, due to the decisions we’ve made, especially when considering our child-facing programmes. Child protection and safety, as well as beneficiary impact, are things we regard as being of the highest importance. The three summer programmes currently running in Ho consist heavily of working with young people. The summer school, reading club and football coaching sessions, delivered alongside our local partners and supported by our dedicated team of UK volunteers, all focus on increasing the educational and sporting abilities and achievements of young people. So, how do we ensure we are not making the same mistakes of so many other international volunteering organisations with regards our work with children?
Firstly, we work closely with community stakeholders, determining where we can have the most positive impact, building on and supporting initiatives already taking place in the town. In the same way we would not appreciate foreigners coming into our communities and telling us what our children do or do not need in order to develop, organisations must thoroughly understand the necessity and rightfulness of local stakeholder engagement and involvement. By working alongside local teachers, child care professionals and parents, organisations go some way to ensure their actions are embedded into the context of the local community, leading to more impactful and more sustainable programmes which are supported by local people.
Secondly, all our volunteers pass through a structured recruitment and training programme, ensuring they are well equipped for their designated roles whilst in-country. Our Summer School volunteers provide extra-curricular activities for Year 6 pupils, but as they are not qualified teachers the national curriculum content is left to Ghanaian teachers to deliver. When questioned on this, our response is simple: would we ever allow a volunteer teacher from Ghana to come to the UK and teach a Year 6 Maths class despite the fact they were not actually qualified? Obviously not! It is important that all international development organisations that work with volunteers know the boundaries they are setting for their programmes by doing so – volunteers, by their very nature, cannot do everything a paid, fully-trained member of staff can. It is the responsibility of each individual organisation to ensure measures are put in place to enable volunteers to work to the best of their ability.
Thirdly, we follow a strict policy when it comes to child protection, ensuring all volunteers are made fully aware of the policy before and during their placement. No cameras are allowed on project, as we wish to encourage our volunteers to focus their attentions on ensuring the programmes are the best they can be, not with their eye continuously objectifying a child through a lens. Our volunteers are also reminded about their position as mentors, not friends. Although they 100% should develop friendly, trusting relationships with the children, they are not in Ghana to hand out hugs, nor are the children attending the projects to be fussed over, but rather to benefit from the activities provided. By doing this, we hopefully curb any negative side effects for the children when it comes to attachment. Much research has been doneregarding the detrimental effects that short-term volunteering placements can have on children and when properly thought through, the conclusions seem obvious. Having a constant stream of volunteers arrive in your community, show you love and affection and then, without a backwards glance, get back on a plane can prove very difficult for children, especially if coming from vulnerable backgrounds. If we think about this from a UK perspective, it’s like volunteers from other parts of the world, coming over and working in our young people’s refuges for 2 weeks at a time, completely unqualified to do so, getting to know the residents, gaining their affection and trust, before travelling around the country for a bit and then hoping back on a plane, never to be seen or heard from again. And then the next group arrive and so on. Although maybe not fulfilling the Western volunteer desire for the much needed profile pic with a cute Ghanaian child, or supplying a never-ending opportunity for cuddles, KickStart Ghana believe these decisions make our programmes more impactful and consequentially, the experience a better one for volunteers and beneficiaries a like.
I am not here to claim that KickStart Ghana are by any means perfect as an organisation when it comes to these issues, but I am pleased to work for a charity that takes this stuff seriously, doesn’t cut corners and instils a respect in our volunteers about these important issues. I’d like to finish this blog with a quick word of advice for anyone currently considering volunteering abroad with children. The below 5 points, I believe, should be understood, appreciated and taken to heart by anyone looking for a placement. Do not consider your actions inconsequential and make sure you are spending your time and money wisely, so as to be bringing about good instead of harm.
Think about what your own strengths are. Good intentions are a fantastic starting point, but unfortunately are not enough to make a difference. If they were, we’d have no problems left in the world. You must consider what skills or strengths you as an individual have to bring to a project. The last thing any developing country needs is more big-hearted but utterly clueless Westerners flying over thinking they can help by simply being there.
Look closely at the organisation you are considering volunteering with. What is their track record when it comes to volunteering with children? Do they prioritise the safety and well-being of the child over everything else? Are they more focused on the volunteers’ happiness than the child’s? This should be easily determinable through the way they present themselves online and through their recruitment process. If you can secure your place in 90 seconds, like I mentioned above, move on to someone else.
Focus on the impact on the child, not the impact on you.If you truly want to volunteer, your energy should be put into ensuring the programme/s you are involved in are as impactful as they can be. Don’t choose a project solely for its location, duration, proximity to the pub etc. Although you will inevitably get a lot out of your volunteering experience (arguably more than you will actually give), you should not in any way see your trip as a holiday. If you do, reconsider what you’re doing and go to Spain for a week instead.
Always consider what best practice is in the UK. Would we allow a particular action to occur, or a particular attitude to prevail in our working with children at home? If not, then you need to consider why the situation is any different in the country you are in. If we really believe children are equal and are all deserving of the same high level of care, then are actions and attitudes should mirror this, no matter where in the world we are.
Hold people and organisations accountable. If you come across a placement, or are involved in a project, that you think may have put children at risk, speak out about it. Go to the people in charge and raise your concerns. The only way to move forward with these issues is to first highlight that they exist and then speak out against them. Only then will we be in a position to move towards a reality where volunteering your time with children across the world is something to truly boast about, not as some shallow badge of honour, but as a constructive way to aid global child development.
Aug 19 2014
MSc Environmental Policy and Regulation graduate, Meaghan Krohn, writes about her experience working at Syniverse as an EDF Climate Corps Fellow and about the integral role of CSR in business.
One of the biggest hurdles I face in my transition from graduate school into my career is that my chosen career path – corporate sustainability – is not a traditional profession. I went to The London School of Economics and Political Science, which is a fantastic institution with a supportive and enthusiastic Careers center. However, it sometimes seems harder for socially and environmentally conscious organisations to make themselves known over the more classic trajectories like finance, accounting and consulting. I found myself wondering where corporate sustainability fits in, and how I can find a job in this field.
The more I thought about what sustainability means to me and how I want to make my mark on the world, I realized that separating “traditional” careers from what I wanted to do was part of the problem. Corporate responsibility is only going to be effective if it breaks down the misconception that “traditional” businesses and sustainability are mutually exclusive. Sustainability isn’t separate from business strategy, it is an integral part of it.
This summer, as an Environmental Defense Fund Climate Corps fellow at Syniverse, I have had the opportunity to do just that: integrate responsibility and the triple-bottom-line into a company’s business strategy.
Aug 12 2014
As we move into the next year of Generate – our entrepreneurship programme – we are looking to grow our pool of alumni mentors. Last year’s alumni mentors provided numerous students with excellent business advice that often had a direct and powerful impact on the student’s business idea. This year, given the sharp rise of entrepreneurial interest amongst the student population we are now looking now to expand our current network to ensure we meet the needs of our incoming students and recent alumni. Great mentors who are excited about what our students are up to and are keen to pass on their expertise to our entrepreneurs are an essential part of our delivery programme and play a key role in the students’ progress and eventual success.
Aug 11 2014
The LSE Volunteer Centre is delighted to announce that Y Care International has signed up to the LSE Careers‘ patron scheme and will support London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) students by developing their involvement in local communities and support for good causes through the donation of their time.
They will be joining other LSE Careers patrons, through LSE Volunteer Centre, to promote volunteerism amongst students, share skills and advice about working in international development, and encourage a greater depth of understanding about the challenges facing vulnerable young people around the world.
While LSE students will be exposed to their work transforming young lives through careers’ fair, seminars and recruitment opportunities, Y Care International will enjoy increased engagement with the careers service, attend recruitment fairs, utilise the online CareerHub and meet academics at the university.
Y Care International CEO, Adam Leach, is excited about expanding the opportunities for young people with global interests. “We are thrilled to work with LSE and excited about how we can engage with students and alumni to expand our services. We are proud to be connected with LSE and other LSE patrons.”
Y Care International will also reach LSE students through David Coles, the LSE Volunteer Coordinator. He will keep us up to date with developments at the School, help with recruitment and meet regularly with Y Care International.
LSE Director and President, Professor Craig Calhoun, expects both the students and Y Care International to thrive from the partnership. “It’s great to have Y Care International join the patron group. The students at LSE not only have a lot to offer to the partnership, but also much to gain by having access to Y Care International’s expertise in international development.”
LSE Volunteer Coordinator, David Coles, welcomed Y Care International joining the patron scheme. “Y Care International offers many opportunities for young people to develop themselves whilst making a difference in their communities, and we are delighted to be able to share these with LSE students.”
Aug 8 2014
Internships offer valuable experience and exposure to real world employment situations. The opportunity to ‘try a career for size’ before committing for the long-haul is unique to the education experience, so it’s important to maximize what you take away from internship roles. Here Sarah Brooks, a Houston based freelance writer and blogger, shares her top five tips for making the most of your internship experience.
1. More than a CV entry
Working internships certainly serves to boost your resume, furnishing additional references for employers to consider before hiring you full time. But you are leaving knowledge and experience on the table if that is all you take away from the internships you complete. The opportunities are far more valuable than simply providing material for your resume, especially when you are able to engage in some of the same activities you’d be responsible for as a full-time staffer. To get the most from your internships, squeeze every second of authentic exposure from your time on the job, and take-on assigned tasks with enthusiasm.
2. Internships can lead to full-time employment
Each intern is unique, in terms of his or her goals and career aspirations, so takeaways are individual in nature. Often, however, internships provide useful preparation for full-time work. Just as you are evaluating career options as an intern, employers are assessing your skills and abilities for possible long-term employment. Even if your short-term internship doesn’t pay particularly well, it’s essential to put your best foot forward.
3. See the bigger picture
Many internships call upon interns to do jobs near the bottom of the workflow. Making copies, answering phones, filing and other administrative tasks are part of the internship experience in many office settings, but that doesn’t mean you are limited to learning only these tasks. Instead, stay aware of your surroundings and take note of how your employer does business. It is surprising how much this experience can round-out your understanding of a particular job or field, but only if you take it upon yourself to see the bigger picture beyond the more routine tasks assigned to you.
4. Protect your image
Even though there is more on the table than a positive employment reference, it is still important to protect your image as a hard-worker during your time on the job. When an internship does not pan-out as imagined, take care to preserve your positive, enthusiastic approach, so your temporary employer can say only good things about your service.
5. Embrace networking opportunities
Just because you are not “officially” employed during your time as an intern, does not mean networking is off-limits. You’ll meet plenty of people on the job, who are your new colleagues (in a way), so making a good impression pays dividends in the long-run. Ask questions to show you’re eager. When mentor relationships emerge during your internship, take advantage of the opportunities these offer. The perspective and exposure gained from these interactions are valuable learning resources, but they may also yield personal contacts, which may help advance your future.
In summary, to maximize the benefits, treat your internship like a regular job, exhibiting professionalism and enthusiasm at all costs. Though your specific work assignments may not always be particularly fulfilling, there’s a wealth of knowledge and experience to be gained, simply by showing up!
Author Biography: This is a guest post for LSE by Sarah Brooks from Freepeoplesearch.org. She is a Houston based freelance writer and blogger. Questions and comments can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bad Behavior has blocked 622 access attempts in the last 7 days.