Friday, April 15, 2016

Little Pieces of Advice...

So it's April already, how time flies! I have been a bad blogger and haven't updated in a while, but I have some extra time today so I thought I would make a new post.

Like I've said, time has been flying. My duties haven't really changed. I continue to support different teams around the office, performing the tasks that others don't have the time or inclination for.

I have learned a lot and I feel like these past 3 months really have given me a foundation from which to build good work habits and productive time management habits.

For instance:

  • Every morning when I get into work, I look at my calendar and make a list of things to do for the day. If there are unfinished things on the list from yesterday I will add them to today's list AND do them first. 

  • Then I check my email and make sure there isn't anything that came in late the night before to get done early.

  • As I am able to I check things off my list. 

One of the best pieces of advice that I can give, is to keep your supervisor abreast of your activities on a daily and weekly basis. Stay on top of your availability. When will you be free to work on tasks next? What have you completed already? If you are waiting on someone to get back to you signal your supervisor.

The best way to get into peoples' good graces is to be open, communicative and a pleasure to work with.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Weekly P.E meetings--or collaborative group think?

Hi to you all. I am posting things as they are happening in my professional life, and sometimes that can be kind of slow. This week however, was fairly interesting.

First, I had a skype call with Beryl, Carolyn and the other DPMIplus participants about our organisations, what we do and what our deliverables would be coming up in the next few months.

Personally I am freaking out because I don't know what I do on a daily basis can relate to ANY of the deliverables that Beryl is asking from us, and the higher level work, happens at higher pay grades than mine (wouldn't you just bet).

So, I am trying to exhibit some initiative to reaching out to other people at my office to help them with projects that require a results framework, or possibly a SWOT analysis. I'm getting really good feedback. But the future has yet to be determined.

Also, before I continue any further, I would like to add that I REALY want to work here. I feel like I have found a home and a calling. I am very confident that I have the skill set and the capacity to create a lot of value added products for SI and their clients.

So after the Skype call on Monday I attended the best PE (performance evaluation) weekly meeting. We addressed as a group problems that we were encountering with our team leaders in the field, who were resistant to adopting the EQUI model and taking the training we established for creating excellence in the field of evaluation. It was conducted with flip chart paper and small group discussions on how to address different hypothetical scenarios related to this problem. We identified what was happening, and proposed solutions to this problem.Then we all shared in the larger group what we came up with. I thought it was very productive and useful and was a welcome break from the monotonous lecture/ presentation of regular meetings.

Creating participation collaboration between co-workers is so essential to creating a cohesive team, and I'm very impressed with how SI approaches work like a graduate program, dedicated to solving real-world problems they encounter.

And for the kicker, Thursday I attended a USAID funded round table on civil society engagement and cross-sector programming. Basically USAID Local Solutions office wants their partnering organisations to implement DRG (democracy, rights, and governance) programs integrated with their other projects. Basically mainstreaming DRG into health, education and environmental programs. This provoked a lot of productive discussion around how it is already happening and the challenges associated with it.

Also, I got to see Evan Bloom (who teaches DPMI and capacity building classes with Beryl at MIIS) speak and present about how Root Change (his org) is using capacity 2.0. I thought it was very cool.

Anyway, that is all for now, please check for periodic updates, I may post a "life in D.C" blog entry soon about the quirks of the town, and how I UBER EVERYWHERE and it's AWESOME!

Friday, February 5, 2016

First Week!

Hi to you all!

I am off and running with Social Impact! It's been an interesting first week, learning the ropes, meeting people and getting acquainted with what I will be doing here for the next 6 months.

I will use this blog to describe my life, but also my professional deliverables so I can personally keep track of all the projects i will work on throughout my time here.

My first project was to re-write an electronic survey for a paper copy to be used in the field evaluating a Discovery Learning Alliance project, essentially a TV show meant to encourage girl's education in rural Kenya. Writing the questions made me remember how lucky i am to have the opportunity to work in this industry.

My next project will be doing quantitative analysis on a USAID funded project through FHI 360 WASHplus project. I will also be doing report writing! this is where the written communication skills get put to the test! Can i write the English good? We will find out.

Today we had a brown bag lunch with Kerry Bruce from the Global Fund to end Trafficking. She gave a very interesting talk on using big data to create intervention on human trafficking. Super interesting theory, but i'm not sure how much it will change practice.

And one last thing, for the grand finale to the week, i'm going to the Paul Collier discussion at American University tonight. it's called a 40th anniversary lecture. I'm not sure what anniversary they are referring to, but i'm sure i will find out.

That's all for today folks, have a great weekend, and i will post more soon.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Facebook: 2 Craigslist: 0

Today I signed my new lease for my apartment in D.C!!!!! YAY! I have to place to crash, cook, live and store my clothes!!!! This was no easy feat. Let me explain to you that first, I am a Californian, so in the beginning of my search, my enthusiastic, yet not so polished initial emails to potential landlords did not evoke many responses initially. I got some good advice from MIIS friends that when first approaching new people in D.C, especially through email, try to make it look like a cover letter. This was good advice that I hope to put into practice in many other domains...perhaps when I try and purchase a fixy to get to and from the health food store....but I digress.

Here is an example of the email that I sent:

Dear Property owner, 

I am a young professional in my 30s looking to move to D.C to start my career in International development. I am moving with my husband of 2 years so we would be two people living here. I need a furnished place fro 6 months, starting January 23rd (or february 1st, whatever works best) and I would possibly be moving in August. we have no pets nor a car. 

I am able to play a month or two of rent plus a deposit in advance when I arrive in D.C on the 23rd. I am currently visiting relatives in France, I am not able to tour this apartment yet. But it is very nice from the pictures, perhaps we could set up a time to do a skype tour? 

thanks for your help, happy new year! Please don't hesitate to contact me at



So after a few tweaks to my initial greetings to potential new landlords, i started getting responses. Let me also say that it seems to be that the closer one gets to a moving date, the more interested landlords are in responding to you (but this is not always the case).

Secondly, I have fairly strict parameters for living conditions, especially for a person in my situation. Whereas most of my intern comrades are happy to share a bunk bed in a 5 room house with 15 roommates, my relationship status necessitates individual apartments, strictly no roommates.   Also, having spent 10 days in Washington for the Inauguration of our sitting president, does not give one much of an idea of where or what things are. I know Dupont circle, Adams Morgan, Georgetown and Foggy Bottom. Outside of these districts, I have absolutely no idea what anything is.

Thirdly, I am looking for a short term lease with a furnished apartment, so the thing that makes the most sense is a sublease. However, it seems most subletters (is that how you spell it?) seem to be also out of town and have decided to sublease their place after already moving out. Not awesome.

Fourthly, I am doing all this from France. The time difference is 6 hours, and I cannot do a single tour in person. Add all this together, and voila, my life for the past few weeks.

I would like to add that craigslist seemed to be primed to separate me from my money with little to no assurance that I would actually have a place to move into. Click here to see some of the exact things that I almost fell for like 10 times...

Eventually I found a great place, that i was able to take a virtual tour of through skype. Luckily i belong to a wonder group of people called Returned Peace Corps Volunteers. I joined their washingotn D.C facebook group, and I advertised my conditions and I had many people suggest places to check out. I really like facebook for this, and it's also how I found my place to move to for the beginning of MIIS, while I was still serving my term in Burkina Faso, in Peace Corps. So at the end of the day, it's Facebook 2 craigslist 0.