Alumni Spotlight #24 Natasha Wrang


skaermbillede-2016-10-05-kl-10-29-42Natasha from Sweden and Taiwan, who describes herself as a “menstrual health enthusiast”, is right now working on her Master’s thesis while trying to plan her next adventure.  Natasha finished her bachelor in 2012, making her a part of the very first BIDS-class to graduate. She agreed on sharing some of her experiences with the programme, which might inspire other students to be adventurous; “You can do so much by just contacting interesting organisations”.

Specification during the BIDS programme
“I majored in sociology during BIDS since I thought that subject was the most interesting one, and I really enjoyed the courses I took. I chose my minor in social anthropology since I already had the credits. This meant I could travel to Taiwan and study Chinese during that semester instead – so use old credits if you have any! For my bachelor thesis I went to Gaborone, Botswana and interviewed staff working at an HIV-clinic for children. I didn’t apply for MFS-scholarship for this one, since I decided what I wanted to do the very last second. I remember booking my ticket on New Year’s Eve and leaving January 14. However, the programme was really flexible about this and everything went really well. You can do so much by just contacting interesting organisations.”

The first graduated BIDS class
“My class was the very first BIDS-class to graduate, so I guess I didn’t really know what to expect. I was basically just following the programme and wasn’t very active in development related activities, because I didn’t know what was out there. I think what was most useful was that I made good friends that I still hang out with. Friends who are not only great people, but also a good network.”

Involvement in development related activities
“Before I started BIDS I volunteered at a kids-center in northern Tanzania. And I loved it. I started BIDS because I wanted to work in a developing context, but after graduating BIDS I realized I still missed these experiences in the field. When I started my Master programme in Public Health at Lund University I also started a communications group through Swedish Development Forum (FUF) and arranged seminars with different development practitioners as speakers. This was a good first step to build my CV, get good connections within the field and work on my communication skills.”

Activities after the BIDS programme
“After I graduating BIDS in 2012, I studied Spanish in Cuba for two months and also some Portuguese. I wasn’t ready to start studying a Master programme immediately and wanted to travel instead. A year after BIDS I started my Master programme. My Master programme is really great, but I realized I needed more work experience, since I basically only had theoretical knowledge. I took a gap year from my programme to do an internship at Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) where I was employed for a month, and then I did an internship at World Food Programme’s Nordic Communications Office in Copenhagen. After my year of internships, I felt ready to continue with the programme. I then started writing my Master’s thesis with the Danish organisation WoMena (an organisation doing an awesome job on menstrual health in East Africa) and travelled with them to Uganda to help collect data for a follow up study about girls and women who have been using menstrual cups. Working with such a specific project that corresponds to my greatest passion in the developing context – using menstrual cups in a low-income setting – was such a great experience. Now, I am finishing my Master’s thesis while I’m working as a project manager in Helsingborg with integration projects.”

BIDS-related future plans
“After finishing my Master’s thesis, I will continue working with different projects with WoMena. When there is time, I’ll join them in the field again. I am a menstrual cup fan and really enjoy working in the field of menstrual health.”

Advices for future BIDS-graduates
“Follow your passion, even if it means taking an unpaid internship. Your passion will shine through and could lead to other opportunities within the organisation. Take good care of your friends from the programme, they’re a great resource! And try to take all the opportunities that are offered within the programme, but prepare yourself. After graduating BIDS, try to look for jobs. There’s no need to hurry to start your Master.”

Interviewed by Karla Andersen
Edited by Anna Butondo

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