Yiming Qu is an Education Officer working in UNICEF South Sudan. She recently visited the UNICEF China Office to share her experiences of working in Africa and why working in the field is an absolute must for development professionals.
How did you get your start working for UNICEF?
I first started working for UNICEF in 2014 as a Programme Officer for the UNICEF Headquarters in New York, which was a great experience for me because I got to understand how policies and procedures are formulated and how they can be conveyed to the field offices. But I’d always wanted to work in the field and I wanted to experience the diverse contexts of both the development and humanitarian response. The reason behind this was due to my academic training in international economic and political development and conflict resolution. I believe the “field” is where the rubber meets the road, so to speak, and is closer to the heart and mind of the organization.
In 2015, I had the opportunity to go on a 3-month assignment in Kenya with the Regional Office for Eastern and Southern Africa. This was the first chance I had to work in Africa and I really appreciated the assignment because I got to work with 21 country offices in the region and provided technical support to country office staff on daily basis. In 2016, I was able to move to the UNICEF Sierra Leone office where I worked as a Budget Manager and had the chance to work with all these inspiring people, including Alison. You had all of these really smart, really passionate people working with you in the field and it was such a great atmosphere to be working in. I knew then that I wanted to continue working in the field in Africa. My wish came true because after about a year of working in Sierra Leone, I moved to my present office in South Sudan under the function of Monitoring and Evaluation, Information and Knowledge Management for Education.
 Alison Jenkins is UNICEF China’s Senior Adviser for the South-South Cooperation section.