Alexandra Mateer

MSc International Disaster Management. Graduated 2017.

What inspired you to study this course? 

I was inspired to study this course after completing a module called Disasters – Why Do Things Go Wrong? whilst studying abroad at Lancaster University during my undergraduate degree at Trent University in Canada. At the time, I was studying psychology and sociology, and felt that the study of disasters allowed me to bring these two interests together in an applied manner in a way that I had never considered before. I found it fascinating to look at disasters as man-made rather than natural events, and wanted to learn more about how the social, political, economic and cultural factors that influence disasters’ impacts are (or are not) recognised, analysed and managed.

I chose to attend the University of Manchester because of the HCRI’s reputation as a leading and forward-thinking place to study disasters, the course’s diverse offering of modules, and the exciting opportunity to undertake a work placement.

How has your career progressed since completing your course?

Completing my course set me on the path I am on now. During my studies, Jessica Hawkins suggested that I apply for an internship opening with Retrak, a small Manchester-based charity that works to enable street children to move from a life of vulnerability, exclusion and poverty to a life within a positive family or community. I was successful in securing the internship, and through it was introduced to the world of trusts and foundations fundraising, in which I work today. This opportunity facilitated by the HCRI helped me take the first steps into a career in the charity sector. 

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

The course helped me to develop and deepen my written communication skills, which have been essential to my progression as a fundraiser. Through learning to analyse and summarise complex ideas to argue a thesis, I am now better equipped to create compelling communications that engage funders.

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

Currently, I am the Trust and Statutory Officer at the Refugee Council. Given that our work takes place in the UK, I have the opportunity to work closely with all of the teams across the organisation, which is both exciting and eye-opening. In particular, I have the chance to liaise with my service delivery colleagues and visit our various projects. Seeing first-hand the impact of our work on the lives’ of our clients is immensely rewarding, and helps me share the Refugee Council’s passion with our funders.

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

Be open to every opportunity that comes your way. It may not be what or where you expected to find yourself, but it does not mean that it is not where you are supposed to be.

There is no one path into fundraising, but make sure to hone your communication skills. They will serve you well, wherever you end up.

What did you enjoy most about HCRI?

I most enjoyed the wealth of knowledge and encouragement that each and every member of the HCRI’s academic staff was willing to share with their students. They pushed me to do my best, and they were by my side every step of the way.

The HCRI offers an excellent learning experience, and I am proud to be an alumni.

What advice would you give someone considering undertaking a Master’s at HCRI?

My advice is this: make the most of every opportunity that comes your way. Attend the talk, take the internship, go on the trip, and speak to as many people as you can (the course will introduce you to many people). Beyond that, create your own opportunities and do not be afraid to reach out and make them happen.

It is hard work, but it is worth it.