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Case Study: Tamara Stupalova

Personal details
Degree:Geography with Spanish Profile picture
School(s): School of Geography and Geosciences, School of Modern Languages
Year of Graduation:Jun-2012
National of: Czech Republic
Employment details
Organisation: Asylum Access Ecuador
Job title: Policy Advocacy and Community Outreach
Occupational Sector: Not for profit
What has been your route to getting your current position?
I wasn't successful getting a job straight after university, so I worked at lots of temporary jobs first. I really wanted more internship experience, so I saved up some money and left to go to Ecuador to volunteer with a gender-based violence charity. I got involved with my current organisation through networking - I asked them about their gender-based violence programmes, and how our organisations might be able to help each other in our work. I do believe that volunteering and internships are essential for a career in the non-profit sector, and it's definitely worth exploring every possible way of how to get them.
What does your job involve ?
I'm currently involved in a research project exploring gender-based violence risk for refugee populations in urban areas. Part of my job is also working on particular refugee cases, helping with research, writing appeals and using strategic litigation to influence government policy.
What are the best bits of your job ?
I get to learn a lot every single day, especially about the legal aspect of my work, which was an entirely new topic for me. I enjoy working with my colleagues who come from a variety of countries and have lots of diverse work experience. I'm also grateful for being able to get to know our clients, and hopefully being able to help them in their next stages of their lives. Helping people to access justice is definitely a very rewarding yet challenging task.
Why were you successful?
I've had to put in a lot of effort and my own finance to be able to access work experience, which then led me to my current position. It can be a daunting task, but it's worth the struggle! I've also reached out to other organisations and professionals working in the field, which in the end was the most important factor that inspired me to apply for my current role.
What skills/ knowledge from your degree have you found particularly helpful in this role?
I've definitely benefitted a lot from writing my own dissertation, it means I'm now more confident conducting social research. I'd say learning qualitative and quantitative research skills are the most important, and besides that lots of discussion time in the classroom!
What advice would you give to students wishing to follow the same path?
I'd say try to save up some money during your studies, and aim to get as much volunteering/ internship experience as possible, either during your summer holidays or after graduation. I'd also recommend going to a different country and getting involved with grassroots NGOs, which is always a great learning experience!