Global Voices scholarship winner shares her experiences and advice

7 August 2018
Key learnings, career prospects and advice
We caught up with this year's Global Voices scholarship recipient, Zoe Neill, who recently returned from her trip to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) forum in Paris.

Bachelor of International Global Studies student, Zoe Neill, recently returned from her trip to the OECD Forum in Paris shares her experiences working closely with international leaders and experts, and explains how the scholarship got her thinknging about how she "can affect change in humanitarian and development policy".

The OECD forum

The forum schedule was jam packed! There were large sessions with panel discussions including a few hundred people and special guests (foreign ministers, trade ministers etc), and smaller sessions with a book author or an entrepreneur which included about 20 or 30 people. One of the major highlights was all the people I met, especially my fellow delegate who are all superstars in their own right!

Key learnings

One thing that really stood out for me was the multilevel engagement that the OECD has with a country before they make any policy recommendations. They have a very through process for ensuring that any recommendations they make have a good chance of being implemented. They will go and visit local governments in the country they are writing about and spend time in communities to discuss what policy changes would be achievable. They take the feedback of the government seriously and aim to only make feasible suggestions.

Another interesting thing I didn't know was that the OECD has a lot of initiatives to engage with non-OECD countries. For example, the OECD actively engages with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and other Asian countries.

Career prospects?

It was incredible to speak with people currently working at the OECD and to talk about their work within the organisation. This brought home that fact that there are multiple ways to follow whatever career path you want and there are also many different ways that you can create an impact, a very important thing to remember! I think it's important not to over glorify working in a place such as the OECD or the UN as many students do, there are many fantastic and rewarding jobs out there which perhaps might even be more suitable for you!

Words of advice

I would encourage anyone thinking of applying to thoroughly research the organisation beforehand. Most international organisations are incredibly multifaceted and it is imperative that you at lease have rudimentary understanding before applying. I would also suggest that you do some research on the theme and the big payers taking part in the discussion. Additionally, I would say have a think about the conference itself, and see if you have any experience that can demonstrate that you are capable of conducting yourself in a professional manner. You will be representing your country after all and this is very important!

Applications for the 2019 OECD Forum in Paris scholarship require a policy proposal and close midnight AEDT on Sunday 17 March. Get your entries in now.