Alumni experiences

Sehr Syed, ODI Fellow working in Liberia's Institute of Statistics and Geo-Information Services

The ODI Fellowship Scheme is highly respected among employers of economists and statisticians. Fellows have gone on to make successful careers in the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the United Nations, academia, the private sector, non-governmental organisations, and their own country governments. Many choose to stay in the countries they are posted to.

Testimonials from past Fellows

'The Fellowship has been a great experience; I simply would not have had the opportunity to work on such high-level projects anywhere else. There is also a great deal of freedom in the job, which allows you to pursue areas where you can really make an impact. However, the cultural differences have been very testing, making the job exceptionally frustrating at times. That said, this has taught me that there are always ways to get things done, providing you are willing to work hard for them.'

'The responsibility I've had in driving development-oriented reforms via budget processes, through political engagements and past vested-interests has blown away all the academic theory and non-governmental (NGO) work experience I previously relied on. The biggest challenge was a personal one – maintaining my relationship in the face of uncertain visa arrangements. However, with patience, know-how and networking, my girlfriend got a great job here too and we have no plans to return to UK anytime soon!'

'The ODI Fellowship Scheme is a unique opportunity to be on the developing government’s side of the table. I felt uniquely absorbed into the workings of the ministry and feel a deep connection to the staff that I worked alongside. I feel very lucky to have had the opportunity to present research to high level policy makers and to influence on a daily basis some of the key functions of government.'

'I think of my Fellowship as two very distinct experiences. There is the cultural experience, in which I explored a country from top to bottom, visited five other countries in the region, and got to better understand the lives of people living in very different circumstances from my own. Then there is the work experience, where I struggled every day to occupy myself, struggled to move forward with any work I did get (due to senior management obstruction and/or apathetic colleagues and/or endless bureaucracy), and found myself respecting my boss less and less. For a long time I stuck out the work experience because I didn't want to end the cultural experience.'

'My biggest challenge from the experience was that politics supersedes economic policy in developing countries with top-down structures. I learnt this from working closely with the Minister, which is an opportunity that I am grateful to have had. In terms of my careers, I think the Fellowship has provided the stepping stone for work in policy and will be beneficial if I apply to PhD programmes.'

'A fantastic opportunity to understand how development really works – or doesn't work in some cases. A unique perspective, not given by any other institution or program, and one which will impact my career for a long time to come.'