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“I wanted to gain industry experience and a qualification – with the OU I could do both at the same time”

Adefunke Yaya

Stepping into a career in international development, Adefunke Yaya knew she wanted to make a difference. When the time came to progress in her role, Adefunke turned to The Open University (OU) to enhance her knowledge of her chosen field while continuing to gain valuable industry experience.

Looking to learn

Starting a new job can feel exciting and daunting in equal measures, especially if your chosen field has the potential to change lives. For Adefunke, beginning a career with VSO an international development charity leading change in marginalised communities, was a dream come true. 

As she gained momentum in her role, Adefunke knew she wanted to continue her professional development and further her career, gaining a deeper understanding of real-world issues such as poverty and inequality. 

Wishing to continue gaining hands-on experience in her role, expand upon her understanding of international development and gain a qualification, Adefunke looked to the OU to provide a flexible study solution. Soon after, Adefunke began studying Development, enrolling on modules introducing major development issues including migration, socio-economic security, and environmental sustainability, to name a few.

I have always been interested in how poverty and inequalities play out in our society and have always wanted to work in an organisation that puts people at the centre.

Having landed a junior role in an international organisation, I was keen to build a career in the area of development management, gaining experience in the sector while obtaining a relevant qualification. This course fit with my aspirations and ambitions.

Applying skills at work

Studying with the OU, specifically examining case studies in collaboration with other students in her modules, gave Adefunke the skills to understand and contribute to discussions at work on development issues and interventions regularly used to tackle inequalities worldwide. 

The course's case study materials were useful in helping me to understand the context of development and the day-to-day realities of what my programme colleagues encounter when designing and delivering development interventions that meet the needs of the communities we support.

One of the things I loved about my last module was I could work with other students on case studies, carry out in-depth analysis, and develop our own development interventions. I can now confidently challenge perceptions and have a sensible debate on development issues with different stakeholders.

Adefunke could also translate the information she gained from her qualification into developing training content for volunteers, an essential requirement of her role. Material learned from her course granted her a broader understanding of development in vulnerable communities, giving her the confidence to match volunteers to the appropriate roles and offer insight into the issues they would face, helping to build a more equitable society.

Gaining this qualification has fuelled my passion for making positive change in the world

I can apply critical thinking skills, read from multiple sources to get a greater depth on topics, and conduct a thorough analysis before making recommendations.

New opportunities

During her studies, Adefunke's career flourished as she progressed into new roles with VSO, often utilising the information and skills she gained from her course. As she went into the final stage of her studies, she could tailor her modules to align with her objectives at work.

Though my role in the organisation changed to more of a people management role, I was able to combine modules on the course to help me develop my expertise in international development and human resource management under the same qualification.

Looking to the future, Adefunke has set her sights on pursuing another qualification with the OU, to continue cultivating a career she is proud of.

Find out more about postgraduate study at The Open University.

Disclaimer: The Postgraduate Diploma in Development Management has since been discontinued and replaced by Postgraduate Diploma in Global Development (E86). Check out our full range of distance and online courses.

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