A job as a programme manager at an NGO can be very diverse. This person works as a programme manager at The American Policy Institute, which is a think tank with the goal of strengthening transatlantic cooperation. The organisation has different tasks, like: • convening leaders and members of policy communities, business and the academic world • organize conferences • do research on transatlantic topics • provide exchange programs to promote commitment to the transatlantic relationship • support programs to strengthen democracies in Eastern Europe and North Africa.
As a programme assistant for the Mediterranean Policy Program, there are more specific tasks. These include supporting ongoing projects, for instance by organizing several conferences on the topic of energy development in the Mediterranean, which will be held in Cyprus, Israel and Washington. The programme assistant helps in devising and setting up the programmes for the conferences. What is the purpose of the conference? Who are invited? For example, which politicians, academics, think tanks, delegates of the U.S. State Department, and what companies? Who are working in the topic of energy development in this region? Where will the conference it take place? How do we differentiate this conference of all the others? Those are all questions that the programme assistant should answer. Pro’s: • The opportunity to meet many interesting people from different fields. You can extendyour network, which is very practical whenever you like to start looking for a new challenge. • You get a lot of freedom to express your own ideas. Although you are a programme assistant, your voice is being heard and you also have influence.
Con’s: • The disadvantage of being a programme assistant it that you also have to take care of all practical arrangements of conferences. Easy tasks regarding negations for location, catering etcetera. • In addition, it can be difficult to determine what an impact we have as a think tank on political issues. It is difficult to see the results of convening leaders and members of policy communities, business and the academic world on specific issues in a short time span.
Competencies • Good communication and good writing skills, since you get in touch with a lot of different people from different fields. • Approaching leaders and members of specific policy arenas also requires you to be persuasive. They get a lot of invitations of different conferences being held over the whole world. You will have to make clear why this conference is important for them to participate in. • In addition, it is important to be able to view different topics from a broad perspective and to switch between different subjects within the organisation. Even if you are working for a specific program, it is expected to also support other ongoing projects within different programmes of the NGO. An interdisciplinary study provides you from knowledge on different subjects and from various disciplines, which is really helpful regarding this work. Finally, it is useful to be creative within this job function, since you get the opportunity to suggest topics for a conference and help setting up the programmes.
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