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  • INSMS International Network for Students of Migration Studies

Volunteer and Co-Founder

We were talking to Lúcia de Toledo França Bueno from Brazil, and she shared some insights on how it is the humanitarian world after graduating from International Relations, and how it is all about volunteering and the importance to raise awareness in the migrations field careers.

Lúcia is 24, and is an undergraduate of The Institute of Economics and International Relations of the Federal University of Uberlândia (Instituto de Economia e Relações Internacionais da Universidade Federal de Uberlândia, in Portuguese). At this time, she did a year- long international exchange on Political Science and Letter Studies at the University of Poitiers, France. At the moment, Lúcia volunteers at institutions that align with three work lines, teaching, research and outreach/communitarian activities.

In her words, “usually, a normal day consists of organizing daily time and schedule, studying academic texts and non-academic audio or audio-visual material, implementing liaisons with partners, operationalizing communicational and operational processes (project management tasks), attending to classes, events and training courses, keeping up to date in international news, creating data visualization or design products, and writing papers”.

When we ask her whether it was easy to find a job after graduating, she says that now she is pursuing a formal opportunity in which she can apply her knowledge on the Migrations field on a regular basis. She strongly highlights that although volunteer experiences are fulfilling, “they are not financially sustainable”. In this sense, Lúcia argues that “for people in general the biggest obstacles would be combining all requirements for a position in an international organization”. In addition, she says:

“The limited opportunities (especially paid internships and scholarships), lack of access to adequate infrastructure (computers and stable internet connection), and certainly not having a network of people who have somehow entered the same job field are elements that set people apart from job opportunities.”

In order to overcome these obstacles, Lúcia is giving special attention to practical studies and experiences. That is the reason why she successfully applied to the Global Research Forum on Diaspora and Transnationalism (GRFDT) course on the Global Compact for Migration (GCM), “which not only covers all 23 GCM’s objectives and the reality of migrations on the ground, but also addresses political and administrative drawbacks and how to cope with them both in the local and in the international scenes”. She also continues to work on a regular basis on several social projects.

When we asked her to suggest how to overcome these obstacles that students in migration studies face, she said “it requires patience and searching for what is right in between what you would love to work with, your current skills, knowledge and talent, and the demand for the specific expertise institutions are looking for”.

Volunteer work

As mentioned above, Lúcia is currently pursuing a formal job opportunity in which she can apply her knowledge on the Migration’s field on a regular basis. In the meantime, she is volunteering in different institutions such as student’s associations, research groups and developing outreach activities to attend migrant’s needs. These institutions are, in Lucia´s words, in charge of:

“articulating local actors in order to support migrants needs, organizing events and other ways of exchanging ideas and references, and promoting dialogue with civil society based on the principle of assuring migrants’ protagonism in their own lives at the same time as making a point on governmental authorities’ responsibilities.”

Her tasks vary from event organization, translation (from French to Portuguese language) for migrants facing difficulties at the local level, developing research projects and producing data visualization in the Migration’s field.

She co-founded NEGRI (Núcleo de Extensão de Negritude e Indigenato em Relações Internacionais), an initiative of UFU International Relations students, with the aim of promoting greater interaction between black and indigenous communities, and holds the position of Executive Coordinator. Her current role at the centre is to “coordinate the institution’s activities, communication flows and partnerships, both internally and externally”.

Lúcia volunteers as a researcher and institutional relations assistant at two research groups: Center of Research and Studies in Human Rights, and Africa-Brazil: Knowledge Production, Civil Society, Development and Global Citizenship (respectively NUPEDH and GPE África-Brasil, in Portuguese). Due to her knowledge of French, some of her tasks involve text, video or audio translation of arriving migrants, within the framework of the Cátedra Sergio Vieira de Melo of the Federal University of Uberlândia, a partner of ACNUR/UNHCR.

Also, she is a French teacher “whose classes have an emphasis on Africa and its Diasporas”. Her course content is “designed around multicultural realities, migration issues and any other subjects around each student’s interests.”

Raise awareness

She does have some thoughts on which changes she would like to see in the migration field careers:

“Students, researchers and professionals in general could benefit from the organization of online events such as Career and Opportunities Fairs that carry the power of reducing the distance between the candidates and their dream jobs.”

She also believes that equal opportunities to eliminate and prevent discrimination based on race, nationality, culture, gender, sexual orientation, religious or spiritual beliefs, disabilities and other aspects, are crucial for getting “access to quality educational and exciting professional opportunities, in particular the highly paid/funded ones.” Lúcia argues that listening and investing in these communities’ perceptions (usually underrepresented) promote positive transformation in the world.

Tips for success

“Even if you did not have a formal and/or paid opportunity to work in the migration field yet, give your very best in the academic or professional environment you are in at this moment. Create your career plan based on the skills and competencies that most often meet the job market requirements and stick to it in your everyday life, while taking care of your health. Work on both technical and people skills on a daily-basis. Finally, pursue learning from every experience, even the negative ones, and enjoy the journey.”

She also emphasizes that when you apply for a job is important to look over “the required and desirable competencies listed in available descriptions of your target job position and doing your best to enhance and/or refine some key-competencies with the work opportunity you have today, or the one that is attainable for you in the short term.”

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