Isabelle Kidder

BSc International Disaster Management and Humanitarian Response with French, July 2019.

Isabelle volunteering in India.
Isabelle (left) volunteering in India.

What inspired you to study this course?

During secondary school, I loved studying human geography and understanding the impacts of disasters on populations. I was also fascinated by international aid from having family members work for humanitarian charities in the UK and overseas.

Can you tell us about your journey to HCRI?

Before starting university, I decided to volunteer for a year with Project Trust to gain some experience in teaching and to explore another culture before beginning a three-year degree. My eight months in India with Project Trust was an incredible experience, full of challenges, and rewarding moments. I greatly benefitted from learning about ways of life and traditions hugely different from my own.

Upon returning to the UK, I spent two months at university studying geography before dropping out due to a variety of reasons. Although this was stressful at the time, I am incredibly grateful for this, as Project Trust got in touch to let me know about the new IDMHR course at The University of Manchester. The course ticked every box, and I applied straight away. During my degree, I was able to draw upon my experiences of living in India to understand the course content further.

How was your Project Trust experience relevant to this course?

My Project Trust experience enabled me to experience another culture first-hand and to see not only the incredible beauty in India but also some of the challenges facing rural and low-income areas. My year with Project Trust made me consider the importance of working and volunteering overseas ethically and sustainably, which is often overlooked in humanitarian response.

What is your current role, and what do you enjoy most about it?

I currently work at The Social Mobility Foundation (SMF)-a charity that aims to overcome the lack of social mobility in the UK by helping young people from disadvantaged backgrounds to achieve their aspirations. The SMF offers young people work experience, mentoring, and skills sessions that they may not ordinarily be able to obtain. My favourite part of the job is that no two days are the same.  We hold so many different sessions and events throughout the year; there is always something new that I am getting involved in that challenges me in new ways.

How have the skills and knowledge gained on the course helped you in your current role?

The skills I gained on the course have been invaluable to me in gaining employment after university. Since the methods of assessment for the modules varied so widely, including blog writing, walking tours, presentations, and policy briefs, I could draw upon specific examples of the transferable skills I gained from the course in interviews. My research module in India was one of the most useful parts of my degree as I gained so many skills such as research, teamwork, and communication skills-  all of which I have been able to make use of in my day to day work.

What did you enjoy most about HCRI?

The thing that I enjoyed most about studying at HCRI was being part of a small cohort, with such a variety of fantastic lecturers. The lecturers I had were very supportive, and due to the small course cohort, they could spend more time helping students. They all came from such exciting backgrounds and were always so passionate about what they were teaching, which made the subjects more engaging. I loved how we had a range of assessments for the modules, as this kept us learning in new ways and enabled us to gain new skills.

What advice would you give to someone considering a degree at HCRI?

Do it! It was the best decision I ever made. If you are considering doing a degree at HCRI, I would advise gaining experience, which shows that you are interested in the topic, such as an ethical overseas volunteering experience. Achieving good grades is valuable for getting into university, of course, however, showing your interest in varied ways is also important. Read more about the topic you are interested in, watch documentaries, sign up to be a volunteer for a related charity- all of these are likely to help you gain a place on the course.

Do you have any advice for people wanting to follow in your footsteps?

I would tell anyone to consider taking at least one year out before going to university, if possible. I took two years out and had some of the best experiences of my life at this time, and I gained so many valuable skills. Although this sounds obvious, I would also advise to do as much research as possible before choosing a degree, and to choose something you feel excited and passionate about! If anybody wants a career in the charity sector, I would recommend volunteering with a cause you feel strongly about and look for internships that you can gain during the summer, as these will help you when it comes to applying to jobs. Finally, I would advise anyone to take any opportunity to get involved with hobbies, events, or volunteering while at university. Although three years sounds like a long time, it’s gone before you know it!