Every time we open applications for the MovingWorlds Institute, I get the privilege of speaking with many amazing people from all over the world about a common ideal: How do we use our limited time, skills, and resources to make a positive impact on the world?
During these conversations, one of the most common requests is to speak with previous Fellows — people who have started their own transitions into higher impact and purposeful work. This is one of my favorite parts of the year because it is another opportunity to catch-up with our alumni and hear more about their progress in pursuing their dreams.
We’ve already shared many of these stories on our blog, like that of Heather, Ankita, Fernanda, and Davide. Last week, we had another cool opportunity to listen to a live story from 2017 alumni, Mirna. About 100 applicants got to listen in as I hosted a Q&A with Mirna, who shared her perspective on making a big a career transition. Prior to the Insitute, Mirna had spent over 10 years working in one of the world’s largest international development organizations, she had a stable career and accolades for her fantastic work, but felt like she was missing something: a greater connection to the actual impact of her work on the ground.
Mirna joined the MovingWorlds Institute to find that connection, and in her story, she shared that the idea of community, skill development, and the actual Experteering project were instrumental factors in her transition. For her project, she connected with Innovative Youth with Action Uganda (IYAU), a small social enterprise that supports young people in rural Uganda. They were in need of the brand-building and communication skills that Mirna had developed, and in exchange, Mirna had the immersive opportunity to more deeply engage in a project and fully understand the realities facing changemakers working in the field.
Mirna spent weeks in community interviewing beneficiaries, staff members and others to get a better feel for the challenges and opportunities these people faced. She built on her existing knowledge of agriculture and microfinance spending days shadowing farmers and loan officers to capture their stories. All of these amazing experiences culminated in a new communications strategy created by Mirna that included a new website, a robust social media process and a foundation of grant writing that IYAU is already benefitting from.
With extra guidance from the Institute cohort and her mentor, Mirna was able to capture her experience working with IYAU and use that to inform her next career steps: A career in biodiversity preservation and poverty alleviation. She has since moved on from the large development organization and is now working in a setting with more direct connections to communities, more ownership over her work, and in a place where she can live her values fulltime.