Perseverance Pays Off

How Jack Turned His Internship into a Full-Time Role.

CUFA’s newest recruit, 23-year-old Jack Kincaid, joined the team three months ago.  Here we follow his journey and share his top tips on breaking into a career in development.

Jack, who graduated from the University of Sydney with a BA majoring in history, government and international relations, monitors CUFA’s major projects, makes sure things are on track through reporting and feedback to external partners, and ensures we are meeting goals and deadlines.  It is a challenging and satisfying new role for him.

Within a week of landing his new job, Jack was in Cambodia to see one of the projects first hand, a community resettlement program just outside of Phnom Penh.

“What I realised was how much effort is required to get a program like this off the ground,” he said. “People can write up plans, but to roll them out in the field is not as easy as some people may anticipate. It’s not a matter of ticking boxes, but taking the time to make sure things are done properly.”

Working on the ground in Cambodia is a far cry from where Jack was in December last year – talking to CUFA staff at a model United Nations conference at the University of Sydney, and wondering what to do with his life.  He had only recently decided that his original career choice – acting – was not the lifestyle he wanted.

“I realised that I wanted to use my brain in a different way,” admitted Jack. “Suddenly it was the end of uni and I hadn’t given much thought to any other career. What made it more stressful to me was that I didn’t have a home any more. I was from Melbourne and I didn’t actually have anywhere to live. So I worked in a bar to keep me going and sought an intern opportunity.

“At the conference I went around to all the organisations which had stalls and asked about them. CUFA seemed different, it had a different vibe, was very niche. It became my first choice. A big part of it was that I felt I could make my mark and that my contribution could be bigger there than at any of the others. I followed up with Rebecca (CUFA deputy CEO, Rebecca MacFarling). I felt I needed to learn something new and get into an intern position where that could happen.”

Jack started out as CUFA’s social media coordinator. “It was interesting. I had to really go out of my way to find articles and photos that related to the work we did, and share them in a way that was engaging. I was proud of the work I did.” How did the job offer come about? “I helped out with a report that needed to be done. There were not many people in the office at the time and I offered to help. I had to interpret data and make suggestions, and I wrote up a report that seemed to go down well. From there I helped edit a couple more reports. Then the job came up and I applied. I felt that my biggest strengths coming to this role were the relationships I had built, in particular with the country program managers. While everything else is developing, and still is, I felt that was what made my application attractive for CUFA.”

Jack’s excited by his new role and how it’s evolving. “In a small organisation like this you have the opportunity to work across several roles. It’s very much jumping in the deep end. I’ve always done things that have made me feel uncomfortable in some ways. I like to challenge myself.

“Parts of the projects I monitor are expanding, which is exciting. They are becoming more vocational – helping people with education and to get jobs. I’ll be monitoring those outcomes and impacts, and making sure that every individual we work with is getting the attention they need. By close monitoring and responding to needs as they arise, we can ensure the project will be a success.”

Jack’s also got his sights firmly set on the future, having just started a part-time law degree online. “I like the way law gives you a very rounded perspective and one that can take you anywhere. I’m not intending to become a solicitor or barrister in the future, but I think it will be useful for any problem or situation I may encounter anywhere in the world. It’s a skill that’s transferable.”

Which brings us to Jack top tips for getting your first internship or role in development. “I actually think there are lots of opportunities out there – you just have to know where to look.”

1. Don’t be too picky at entry level. A foot in the door in any organisation can lead to another opportunity.

2. Show a genuine interest in the organisation. This will get you far, regardless of whether you have had an internship before.

3. Know your strengths. Take an online test like the VIA Character survey.

4. Be open to all opportunities. Be prepared to jump into the unknown.

5. Look outside the normal recruitment avenues. Try messaging people on LinkedIn, for example. You’ll be surprised at how many people are prepared to help.

6. Always follow up. Keep in contact with people and message them every so often. And they will remember you. They may not need you at the time, but there’s more chance will come back to you if they do.

Discover more about working with CUFA here.


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