“My name is Anna Berggren, I’m 25 years old and graduated from the BIDS programme in 2015. I have been in and out of Sweden the past years but am now currently living in Stockholm. I have always had a passion for traveling and exploring new cultures and ideas, and I believed that BIDS could help me exploring the world and its dynamics even further.”
(Interview conducted in December 2016)
How did you specify during the BIDS-programme?
One of the funniest things about BIDS is that I actually did not know much about the programme before I applied. I just thought it sounded interesting and as an area that I could see myself working in. Looking back, I remember it as yesterday when the class met for the first time and the teachers started to introduce themselves. In English. The blood was rushing through my body. English was my worst subject in school, and now I was supposed to spend three whole years with academic English?! I applied to a programme called ”Utvecklingsstudier”, for God’s sake! But I didn’t give up. I went for an AIESEC internship in Mauritius where I was working with unprivileged children during the first year. I chose Sociology as a major and travelled through Australia while taking distance courses in Social work during the second year, and I received a SASNET and a SIDA grant for a MFS in India, where I was collecting data on a CSR (corporate social responsibility) project by Coca Cola wanting to engage 5 million women in business by 2020, during the third year (a project beneath any criticism, but that’s another story). As cheesy as it sounds, the level of personal development I experienced during these three years is just incredible.
What did you find useful from the BIDS-programme?
I learned so much from the programme, not only about development issues and critical thinking as such, but simply that it is a programme containing so much more than theories about “poor countries”. The whole “I want to save the world” spirit many of us had in the beginning transformed into a deeper and more mature understanding of the world that I am so grateful for today.
Have you been involved in other development related activities?
During my time in Lund I was not that much engaged in development related activities, something I could regret looking back. I was involved in FUF (föreningen för utvecklingsfrågor) as well as working in a home for unaccompanied refugee teenagers, but I put most effort into the studies. Which I guess was not that bad after all.
What are you working on now?
After BIDS I wanted to take time off academia to get some work experience. Realising how tough it was getting a job in development as a new graduate I started to work at a pharmaceutical company as an Office Coordinator to improve my admin skills. My plan was to later get a job at the Swedish immigration office or SIDA as an administrator, but life had another plan for me; after a year in pharma I went to Kenya for an internship at an international refugee organisation. And even though the internship in itself was not that fruitful I still learnt loads about project management, which resulted in getting my “first real job”. So in January 2017 I start as a ”travelling project manager” at an international humanitarian organisation – and I couldn’t be happier!
I have the ambition of taking a master in some BIDS-related field (which changes every three months) but right now I am just focusing on my new job – and who knows where that will take me.
Any advice for future BIDS-graduates?
Do not ever stop believing in yourselves, or in the BIDS programme! I know that the programme and its logistics could be frustrating sometimes, and (if you have not done it before) you will for sure question development as a field, both in theory and practice. But hang in there! It will be a journey you thought you would never experience. And on top, you will gain life-long friendships.
Interview conducted by Anna Butondo