Networking is as important for the expansion of my current career in development as it was to start it.
|Name: Andante Hadi PandyaswargoMain country of residence: Japan||Current Position: Assistant Professor Organisation: Tokyo Institute of Technology, Department of International Development Engineering|
|Qualifications: Ph.D (Engineering) – Waseda University, Masters of Engineering – Fachhochschule Trier, Master of Science (International Cooperation Policy) – Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University.|
|Years of experience (development/overall): 1/1|
|LinkedIn Profile/Website Address: http://www.linkedin.com/in/andantehadi|
|Languages: Bahasa Indonesia (fluent), English (fluent), Japanese (working proficiency), German (elementary proficiency)|
What is the nature of the organisation you currently work for?
I am working for a university which provides knowledge and skills to engineers so that they can use science and technology to lead sustainable development. But my specific role is not in the teaching and learning sphere; instead, it is mainly research focused, with a participatory approach to developing countries.
When did you first start working in international development?
2010 – Internship in United Nations University, Institute of Advanced Studies (UNU-IAS)
What was your first international development role?
How did you obtain your first development role? Did you apply for it, and if so how many applications did it take to get the first role? Was the role paid or unpaid?
I was introduced by someone I met in an Eco-City conference City in Yokohama who was also working in UNU-IAS. I did not apply for it, but they were looking for someone qualified to assist in their working paper on palm oil plantation in Indonesia. There was no financial incentive, but 2.5 years later, I became the co-author for the submitted journal paper.
If you had previously pursued a non-development career, describe how you made the transition and the extent to which your existing skills were transferable?
I wouldn’t say that I pursued a “career” because I was a student the whole time. However, the thesis I wrote, the internship I took, and the experiences in and outside of the university I had, have always been development-related without me realising it.
For example, I wrote about the effectiveness of eco-schools in Indonesia for my bachelor thesis; I was engaged in the planning and development division in a small town hall in a village in Japan; at Robert Bosch Japan, I explored the corporate social responsibility auditing processes. The experiences and skills that I learnt have definitely been useful in my development career.
What was the nature of the first organisation you worked for?
An education and research institute.
Did you have experience in the field before obtaining your first paid development role?
I had a six-month unpaid internship in UNU-IAS, Yokohama before a two-month internship with living costs covered in the Asian Development Bank (ADB), Manila, Philippines. I think the first internship contributed a lot to the second one. Following the ADB internship, I had the opportunity to take on another unpaid internship (with accommodation provided) in IGES, Kitakyushu, Japan for three months. Only after the completion of my PhD did I become part of the regular staff in Tokyo Tech. I believe the three internships, the experiences and the networking that took place were valuable investments for my current role.
Do you consider field experience important in obtaining your first development role?
Yes. The internship position in UNU-IAS on palm oil required me to have knowledge of the local language to process the stakeholder interviews and questionnaires.
How important do you consider networking to being successful in your field?
Networking is as important for the expansion of my current career in development as it was to start it. For example, I came to know about the Eco-City conference from a colleague. In the conference, someone recommended me for an intern position at the UNU-IAS. At the same conference, I became acquainted with one of the IGES staff, who hired me for an internship two years later. The same colleague, who introduced me to the Eco-City conference then told me about the ADB internship, which I then took. And finally now I am working in Tokyo Tech where the work involves the contacts I made from previous positions. This is only a small part of a big network that intertwines and keeps expanding.
In brief what other roles have you had throughout your career and if you did not start your career in development what was your previous profession?
Intern, intern, intern, intern, intern and intern. I actually had internships in six different places, two of which were in developing nations. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of internships, especially for those who decide to pursue a non-stop graduate school career. It opens the opportunity of joint research, fieldwork, and networking.
What do you see as the main advantages and disadvantages of the work you’re engaged in?
Advantages include having the opportunity to see the world differently. By meeting various kinds of people, I tend to try to put myself in the shoes of others before I make my decisions. In other words, open-mindedness and tolerance are something that I believe I have acquired through my journey.
The disadvantages include the challenges to maintain and practise the belief that I grew up with. As a Muslim, I want and need to pray five times a day, and fast during the Ramadan. When you find that you are the only person who can’t eat during the daytime, it gets kind of lonely. Maintaining relationships also has not been very easy. Long distance relationships with family, friends and loved ones are unavoidable. But I get to make new friends all the time. Things will get a little bit easier once I settle in (in the meantime).
What advice would you give to somebody interested in pursuing a career in international development similar to yours?
Be gracious, be curious, learn from your own experiences and embrace the challenges ahead!