“I would not be where I am today without this Master’s”
Rebeca Borges is building a career supporting civil society organisations that are working for human rights and democracy around the world. The former student of the Erasmus Mundus Master’s programme in Human Rights Policy and Practice (EMHRPP), shares her experiences of studying the programme, how she applies her acquired skills and knowledge, and her best tips for how to get a job after your studies.
Where do you work, and what does it entail?
“I worked at Friends of the Earth Sweden for 3.5 years as Programme Officer and then Programme Manager, and now I work at the Swedish NGO ForumCiv. ForumCiv is an organization that works for human rights and democracy around the world, especially by funding and supporting civil society organizations. I am currently an Advisor on Programme Management at the Quality Support Unit. That means that I work close to colleagues from different areas who develop programmes and offer consultancy on how to create, implement, monitor, evaluate and report on international development cooperation programmes. Visiting parts of the world where we implement projects and meeting with communities, staff, networks and donors is an exciting part of the job.”
In what ways have you benefitted from your studies in your professional role?
“I studied Law in Brazil and always wanted to work with Public Policies - meaning, I planned to work with State actors. But the Masters in EMHRPP showed me the world of NGOs and the importance of civil society. It also showed me that there was a whole field of work that required more interdisciplinary skills that I was not aware of - the realization came both from courses and from the contact with my cohort. The Master itself gave me the opportunity to prepare for this field, opened up doors due to the internship and the CV helped to frame my career. I would not be where I am without this Master.”
What did you appreciate the most about your studies at EMHRPP?
“I appreciate so many things! The opportunity to live and study in different countries was challenging like nothing else I have done. Meeting my classmates was certainly the most life-changing experience, as I was exposed to different cultures, languages and knowledge. Many became close friends and we still visit each other whenever possible. You do end up with a network that increases your dreams and also your chances of finding and getting jobs. The courses were very interesting, and learning new and different ways of writing, presenting, and expressing knowledge was an essential skill. I loved the events planned and meeting the teachers in different settings.”
What are your best tips for students in the field of human rights to succeed on the labour market?
“I have three tips. First, invest time and effort into learning languages, and try to do it during the master. You cannot work in this field only with English. If you plan to work in your region, learn the language used by international cooperation there. For example, coming from Brazil, I invested in Spanish because of the Latin American context and that was decisive for my career. Second, try to find the type of job you dream of, then search for advertising for that position. Look at what the requirements are, so that you can make a plan for fulfilling them and what seems to be the path to get there. I decided I wanted to work as Programme Manager so I took some extra online courses on programme management and then tried to get an officer position (junior) and grow up from there. And finally, do not worry about grades. Try to do your best because you need to learn and because answering to the teachers feedback is how you improve. But grades will not make a difference in your career, your skills will.”
Why would you recommend EMHRPP?
“Because it is a unique and amazing opportunity for your career but also for your life. It is a big adventure.”
What is your favorite memory from your studies?
“The camaraderie and solidarity of the cohort. Living in different countries but having the same group really helps all the way, and the bonds we create are strong. Life happens during these two years and sharing our different realities is really warming for the heart. All you learn you will never forget.”