Aiming for a meaningful international career

By Sigrid Grøm Bakken

3 December 2018 15:18

Aiming for a meaningful international career

Karoline Aadland, an intern in UNICEF, is combining her NHH education with development work in Kenya and Malawi. ‘You can actually make a career out of helping others,’ she says.

- I don't feel any pleasure from working somewhere where the problems you solve only have value in the form of money. I want a job that in itself means something to me and to others,’ says Karoline Aadland.

The 26-year-old from Bergen decided early on that she wanted a career in aid and development. She got her first taste of the sector through the student organisation NHH Aid.

- It was at NHH that I understood how big the aid sector is and that it is actually possible to make a career out of helping others. I used to think that this was something that I had to do on a voluntary basis, in addition to a job, but today I am actually getting paid for helping people in need,’ says Aadland.

The degree from NHH is highly valued. As a business graduate, you have good opportunities to acquire managerial positions in the aid sector.

NHH student Karoline Aadland

A million people without food

As an intern in UNICEF, Aadland has worked six months in the Malawi office, and will now be spending the next six months at the head office in Oslo.

- Malawi is experiencing more extreme weather as a consequence of climate change. In previous seasons, long periods of drought, followed by floods have destroyed vital crops. UNICEF is working together with other international organisations and the Malawian authorities to prevent food shortages and make the country better equipped to deal with extreme weather, says Aadland.

She says there is a great need for help and that the work she does has a great impact on people’s lives.

- One million people are expected to be without food this season. They need help to survive. Our work here is twofold: we secure enough supplies for people, as well as providing the materials and training to grow food.

One of UNICEF's tasks is to teach people to grow their own food.
One of UNICEF's tasks is to teach people to grow their own food.

Putting theory into practice

Aadland recommends everyone who wants a career in aid and development to acquire relevant experience early on. She has worked in an aid organisation in Kenya, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), and established the foundation SOMTO in Norway. SOMTO is short for ‘Somesha Mtoto’, which is Swahili and means ‘Educate a child’.

She founded the latter while she was taking her Economics and Business Administration degree at NHH. Through fund-raising appeals and sponsor-a-child schemes, SOMTO provides schooling for underprivileged children in Kenya, so that they can have a future outside the country’s slums.

They really do a lot for UNICEF, both through fund-raising for children in need, and by informing other students about the importance of aid.

Secretary General UNICEF Norge, Camilla Viken

- The NHH programme provides a good understanding of how to run a company, which is valuable information if you want to start up on your own. In the business economics courses, I learnt how to keep accounts. This is useful in SOMTO, where I am responsible for documenting that the money is going to the right places. In the marketing and strategy courses, I learnt how I can make SOMTO more visible. In the law courses, I learnt about the legal framework I have to work within. I also learnt a great deal about start-ups when I participated in the Norwegian School of Entrepreneurship and took my minor in social entrepreneurship.

Fierce competition

Aadland does not hide the fact that the competition for aid jobs is fierce, but says that the sector offers many exciting roles for business graduates.

- The degree from NHH is highly valued. As a business graduate, you have good opportunities to acquire managerial positions in the aid sector. As an intern in UNICEF, I have a lot of responsibility for big projects, and the responsibility feels very real because the projects are to a great extent about people’s health and lives.

The collaboration between UNICEF and NHH Aid started in 2003, and General Secretary, Camilla Viken, is delighted to have NHH students on the team. The students raise over NOK 1 million a year through different activities.

- They really do a lot for UNICEF, both through fund-raising for children in need, and by informing other students about the importance of aid. At the same time, they are a great inspiration to us here at UNICEF, and they help us to think in new and creative ways. Mensendagen (literally 'period day'), which was new last year, is just one example of that. The students focused on a very important topic, which is still taboo in many countries, among others Malawi,’ says Camilla Viken.

 

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