Standing Up For What You Believe in: A True Story

For today’s article we have recent MIDPA alumni Javier discussing the process of finding one’s place upon graduating from university. Tossing up between staying in Australia and returning home, as well as being faced with an enormously difficult ethical dilemma, this is an enormously engrossing piece to read. We hope you enjoy it.

As I promised to former MIDPA president Clemency Sherwood-Roberts and current president Aakansha Kedia, I am going to write about ethics and staying true to yourself.

To me, the number one factor in this regard is bravery. This buzz-word is what is required to keep your ethics intact, not just for the sake of avoiding punishment, but for the sake of not doing what is wrong. I read somewhere that we are not who we are for what we do, but for what we resist doing. Working in development is not easy, the way of the world today is so complex that it is hard to know what direction to take. I finished my Master’s degree in International Development Practice at Monash University in November 2017 (Yay! Go me!) and when I finished I was faced with one of the biggest decisions of my life. I had to choose between staying in Australia and going back to Mexico. I had two perspectives, in Australia I was going to be able to earn a good income at a low effort, and the impact in the community that I could provide was going to be faster but less significant. If I went back to my home country, the impact of my studies would be enough to benefit a wider population, but also in the longer-term, I think I am needed more in Mexico. Unfortunately, the structure for social development is lacking.

With my Bachelor’s degree I am recognised by the community in my country as a Marketing guy. Often, even after I inform someone of what I just studied, their first question for me is about my specialization in marketing. It drives me nuts! Anyhow, I come back home to Mexico, and soon after receive a job offer as Marketing Chief in a world-famous motorcycle brand. The moment the offer came to me I was so happy and excited at beginning at a new company (even if my life-long dream of being a hippie sociologist who assists communities was temporarily on hold, the income was going to be good enough to buy my dreams back). But something inside me told me be careful, but that voice was silenced once I saw the3-digit salary (something really hard to get here). However, here begins the real adventure. I was brought in by the marketing team to review the successful campaigns and generate strategies on how to replicate these promotions. When I was reviewing the promotions, I came across this image:

A woman dressed in a very small bikini, handwashing the motorcycle with a lot of foam and soap. I remember my internal voice saying what irony! From Gender and Development to this. I leapt to the front of the room and explained to the whole team about why this image was objectifying the female body,and how I was not able to work in an environment with values like that. I said I was sorry, but nothing could change my mind, it was the kind of rant that you end with a mic drop. Obama out!

I didn’t say we have to be professional in every area of our lives, however, I did lecture on how this kind of promotion was against my principles. I asked my boss to speak with me in private so we could discuss how I could terminate my contract as quickly as possible without affecting the company. I finished my contract with the motorcycle company and immediately jumped back into the company that I had. Four years ago I created a tea distribution company and I am now using its structure to increase female empowerment in my area.

The lesson that I want you to take with you from this piece, that took me up to two weeks to write, and that I am still struggling with is: keep tight to your virtues and morals, they are who you are and what defines you. Don’t choose a job that pays well just because it pays well, do what makes you happy. Find a way to do it. Use your past to your own benefit. Right now, I am seen as the Marketing guy in my community. I cannot change this, what I now understand is that I can change the way we do business in my community, applying concepts that I learned in the Gender and Development unit and throughout MIDP. Finally, decide what is most important to you. For me it was my family and having a positive impact in the community. What are your priorities? What can you do and what do you want to have an impact on? By following these simple rules, you can always follow your morals!

Javier
Marketing & Partnerships (2016)

Director’s Letter

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Monash International Development Association (MIDPA) is a student-run organisation. We believe that international development processes can be enriched by peer to peer conversations. For that reason, we began MIDPA last year, because we think that the knowledge, perspectives and experiences of students are unique and valuable, but these are not always heard in the classroom.

Our objective is to provide a platform for MIDP students to share with others and learn from each other. We aim to encourage the next generation of development practitioners to confidently challenge norms, think critically and explore innovation.

As I look back to the past semester and look forward to the future. We began the year with a much bigger committee, with passionate MIDP students, with great ideas and many plans ahead. I realise that we have grown and become not only a united student association but a group of students committed to the cause, willing to learn from each other and to develop their skills, and not afraid to speak-out.

It has been an exciting and rewarding semester for all of us, we launched the MIDP blog, and we planned our for future events for the semesters to come. And it is with great pleasure that I write to invite you to the our upcoming events:

 

Semester 2, 2016 Events

1. O-week Professional Development Workshops: Personal Branding and a ‘How to’ in using LinkedIn to get an internship or job: Wednesday 20th July 2016

The purpose of the Professional Development Workshops is to assist the students of the Masters of International Development Practice to maximize their opportunities in seeking internships and work following graduation.

The Professional Development Workshops will consist of two workshops run by Karalyn Brown, founder of Interview IQ. The first workshop will be based on personal branding and will assist participants in thinking objectively about their skills and unique added value, and to understand how to communicate this to potential employers. This will be followed by a workshop on developing a standout LinkedIn profile, and the etiquettes and strategies in networking and job seeking.

There will also be an opportunity for students to receive a professional headshot during casual mingling following the afternoon workshop.

 

2. Brown Bag Lunch Series

This event seeks to expose MIDP students to a broad range of cross-cutting skills and ideas presented by visiting and local experts and professionals working in development and humanitarian assistance, or in intersecting sectors.

These lunches are to promote discussion of current and relevant topics to enhance student learning experience and to challenge them to think creatively and engage in an informal learning environment. It is also an opportunity for students to broaden their networks and meet industry professionals.

 

3. Teach Series

The Teach Series is a chance to share with fellow students your area of interest/experience/passion/expertise. For example, your valuable insights can range from thematic areas such as gender, food security, education, sustainable fashion etc., or sectors such as tourism, marketing, technology. MIDPA is passionate about providing a forum for students to meet in a casual setting, share ideas and explore the variety of areas in the development sector.

The format will run just like the Brown Bag Lunch Series, as an informal chat, with B.Y.O lunch. You will be able to introduce your topic, and the specific areas that you wish to share, and then we will open it up to a casual discussion and questions.

 

Semester 1, 2017 Events

1. International Development Case Competition

Tackle a real world development challenge an organisation is facing, and work as a team to come up with an innovative solution!

The case competition seeks to provide a forum for students to engage with a hypothetical problem in a development context and propose theoretically grounded solutions that are innovative and aligned with international development standards and best practices. Students will be challenged to engage deeply with a country and theme, exploring its issues and identifying sustainable and effective solutions.

Our ongoing goal is to keep providing opportunities for students to engage in international development and humanitarian assistance through events, workshops, and our blog.

While we celebrate many accomplishments over the past semester, we also have to say goodbye to extremely passionate colleagues. However, we are looking forward to working with you as alumni.

Thank you for wholeheartedly being a part of the MIDPA. We welcome to the new members of the committee; and we are looking forward to much more in Semester 2 2016!

 

Sincerely,