Position title: Class of 2011 Alumnus
After graduating from UW-Madison, my wife and I moved to Washington DC, and I began working in the international development field. My first job was at Crown Agents (British Development Company) on a USAID-funded President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) project. I worked on varied procurement/supply chain-related capacities providing lab supplies, reagents, HIV test kits, antiretroviral medicines, and other supplies to support Ministries of Health and health programs in 12 countries in Latin America and Africa. Following Crown Agents, I then went to work for DAI (Development Alternatives Incorporated) as a Procurement Specialist and Trainer supporting a variety of USAID funded projects in the Middle East, North Africa, and Latin America. I helped establish and was a trainer for DAI’s first-ever Procurement and Contract Training conducted in Spanish to staff in El Salvador. With DAI, I also was assigned project startups on the ground in Afghanistan and Mozambique. For the last three years, I have been working as a Senior Procurement Specialist at Abt Associates (Public Health Organization). I first worked on the USAID Zika Project providing procurement support to 14 field offices in Latin America and the Caribbean. As the Zika crisis improved and the project finished, I transferred over to VectorLink, a project that is part of the President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI). I currently provide procurement and training support to our field offices in 14 countries (mainly sub-Saharan Africa). We coordinate small to large procurements and shipments of lab equipment, PPE (Personal Protection Equipment), insecticides, and spray equipment (for indoor residual spraying). I have found my work in international development to be interesting, challenging at times yet rewarding.
The LACIS program helped reinforce the importance of having a global approach to issues by learning about different international organizations, governments, and cultures. My Spanish and Portuguese skills have helped me get jobs and to work on some interesting projects including some with international travel. The flexibility of the LACIS program was also a big positive for me. I was able to learn more about Latin American history and culture while also focusing on the La Follette School’s public policy classes which have been very useful for my line of work. Professor Alberto Vargas provided great support throughout the process as I transitioned to graduate school after finishing Peace Corps service.
The advice I have is to be open to new opportunities and getting your foot in the door is most important when starting your career. Your first job may not be your dream job, but if it is in the right field, then it may be worth it.