30.05.2018

Career Stories

The students of the DEVI Programme have greatly diverse geographical and academic backgrounds. Since 2007, the Programme has welcomed 184 students from 39 countries to Jyväskylä. The current number of graduates is 151.

You can find more detailed data on graduates and their nationalities as well as the intake of the new students below.

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In the 10-year existence of our programme we have alumni who are employed in the following organizations:

  • NGOs, Civil Society, Social Movements
  • Foundations
  • International/Multilateral Organizations
  • International Development and Aid Agencies
  • Embassies
  • Development Banks
  • National and Local Government Units
  • Development Research Institutions
  • Development Consulting Companies
  • Private Sector with ‘Development’ sections
  • Universities

Alumni experiences


David Korpela

Korpela.jpegI chose to study in the Master’s Programme for International Development Cooperation at the University of Jyväskylä, specializing in political science, to get a Nordic perspective that is both practical and innovative. I completed my undergraduate studies at Queen’s University in Canada and wanted to return to my Finnish roots for my graduate studies, starting the master’s programme in 2006. After a very structured and performance-oriented undergraduate programme I was struck by the relaxed and self-directed nature of studying in Jyväskylä.

Learning, dialogue and the exchange of ideas was prioritized over academic performance creating an open environment for reflection within a very multicultural study programme. Contrary to programmes in other universities, Jyväskylä emphasized practical skills and knowledge that are needed for work in development cooperation. During the mandatory internship as part of the study programme, I worked for an NGO in the Great Lakes Region of Africa (Rwanda, Burundi and DR Congo) and became interested in Humanitarian Aid as a first-line response to conflict and natural disasters. The 2010 earthquake in Haiti gave me the opportunity put my studies into practice. Practical lessons learned in classes on project cycle management were put to good use in the two years I spent working for Finn Church Aid in Haiti.

I then transitioned into East Africa working in contexts like Somalia, South Sudan, Northern Kenya, Eritrea, Uganda and Mozambique working for Finn Church Aid and then the European Union. I am now working for the Ministry for Foreign Affairs in Helsinki taking a break from ‘hardship’ locations but very much planning to return to work in locations where peace building, humanitarian aid and development cooperation initiatives are needed the most.

Language skills are a huge asset. For anyone planning an international career in this field, qualified professionals with language skills in French and Arabic are in short supply. Use the master’s programme to prepare yourself to engage with other cultures and apply the practical lessons learned in creative and innovative ways. I am still in touch with many graduates from the same programme as we have become good friends, leaning on each other for the personal and professional support that a challenging career in this sector requires.

Email: David.Korpela@formin.fi


Nhu Phuong (former Student Ambassador)

Phuong.jpegI graduated in 2015 and I majored in Political science while attending Development and International Cooperation Master’s programme.

I did my Bachelor’s degree in International Relations. Afterwards, I tried out different jobs before I started development work with Oxfam in Hanoi. My time with Oxfam really helped me to determine my focus on development work. While I was researching courses in Development Studies, I discovered the programme in the University of Jyväskylä. I looked into it and immediately fell in love with the scenery of the school’s surroundings.

During the first semester, everything was so different from anything I had ever been familiar with: the climate, the teaching and studying styles, the course register system, reading materials, lecturers and fellow students speaking English with accents from all over Europe. I was extremely overwhelmed. But at the end of the day, I told myself: “Isn’t this the whole point of going abroad and attending courses like these so that I could advance my knowledge?” Fortunately, the professors and lecturers were very generous with their deadlines for long essays so as long as I started with the assignments immediately, I always finished them in time with good quality. Thanks to the intensive work I went through during the first semester, I became more and more confident in my contribution to discussions in class. I really skated through the following semester much more easily. I still remember what Professor Jeremy Gould said to me during the one-on-one feedback session after the first semester: “You have changed a lot in a good way. I think this is a good programme for you.” And I could not agree more.

The main library was like my fortress, while its books and data base were my weapons of sorts. It might sound really weird and makes me appear like a complete nerd, but never in my life had I ever thought that there would be a day when I would love to go to the library. But I did! I loved spending time in the main library.

Finland was amazing on its own account. For two years in Jyväskylä, I stayed in Roninmäki student housing which was by the woods overlooking the beautiful lake of Myllyjärvi. I had never lived in a place as quiet and peaceful as this area. Leaving Finland after two years, I became a much calmer person than I had been.

After coming back to Vietnam, I started working for an NGO as a project manager. I managed Public-Private-Partnership projects co-financed by a private partner and a German government’s bank. The project I was assigned to was being implemented in three countries simultaneously: Vietnam, Myanmar and Indonesia. I found myself at another level of professionalism and sharpness that was the result of the training of punctuality and taking work seriously during my study in Jyväskylä. The Public-Private-Partnership project that I managed for almost two years after coming back to Vietnam provided me the opportunity to see how climate change actually affected the livelihood of small-scale farmers in Vietnam. So, my plan is to obtain another Master’s Degree in Climate Change and Development. And later on, I hope to contribute to building the resilience of our people in the adaptation process to climate change.

The freedom given to students in Finnish schools is incredible! This also means that you have to work on your own most of the time but help is always around the corner when you need it. The programme will give you a glimpse into what you might encounter later in your career and prepare you the skills and knowledge to cope with what might come. Go ahead and apply without a second thought!

Email: buitrannhuphuong@gmail.com