Goossen Hoenders currently works as ECHO funding and complience expert at Save the Children Netherlands in the Hague. He was last year’s keynote speaker, having talked about his career path and how the work he work he does can be rewarding.
How did you end up in your current position at Save the Children Netherlands?
After finishing university I first worked as policy advisor at Humanitarian Aid Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and as a trainee at DG ECHO (the largest humanitarian donor) in Brussels, large institutional donors who provide funding to UN agencies, the Red Cross movement and NGO’s. While working there, I was very interested to know more about the actual implementation of humanitarian aid and to be closer to the beneficiaries that we are supporting.
During my traineeship at ECHO I applied for a number of starting positions within the NGO sector. Due to a lot of competition, I was not selected for any interviews. In one case there were approximately 300 other candidates who applied for the same position. On one of the last days of my traineeship the Head of the Programme Department of Save the Children Netherlands visited ECHO for a meeting. I knew him from my time with the Ministry and had met him a few months before during a conference. When he and his colleague left I made sure to be in the same elevator and did a very short elevator pitch and showed my interest in working for Save the Children. Shortly after, I send my CV and was invited for an interview. In April 2006 I was hired as a programme manager focusing on funding opportunities from ECHO and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
How does working within the NGO benefit one's future career and one's personality?
Since I started with Save the Children Netherlands, I’ve had various roles in the organisation and gained experience on a wide variety of topics. Besides my position as ECHO funding and compliance expert, I’m also the deputy head of the Programme Department and the Security Coordinator. These interesting and demanding roles are good opportunities for my professional and personal development. Working for Save the Children Netherlands has been very rewarding. During my visits to various countries, including Afghanistan, Haiti and Sudan, I have seen with my own eyes the difference that our work makes for children who need it the most. I am grateful that I can contribute to that.
What message would you like to give to this year's students attending 'Volunteer for your Future Career'?
An internship is a good way to get exposed to the work an organisation is doing and to see if the field of work suits you. It also provides an excellent opportunity to present yourself in a work setting which might result in a paid position afterwards.
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