Premise Peace Corps Alumni Spotlight: Liz McQuade

by | Sep 16, 2021

Premise’s growth is being driven by employees that bring a diverse array of backgrounds and skills to our company. 

We are launching a new series spotlighting our employees who have served in the Peace Corps. Every year, thousands of people join the Peace Corps to drive change in developing nations. They travel to remote locations worldwide, learn new skills, work with a diverse group of people, and develop new skills that help set them up for future career success.

In today’s edition of our Returned Peace Corps Volunteer Spotlight, we talk to Liz McQuade, International Development Customer Success Operations Specialist, about her Peace Corps experience.

How long have you been at Premise?

Since December 2020

What do you do here at Premise?

I work with our International Development team to support the successful design, implementation, and management of data collection for Premise’s IDEV clients.

How long were you in the Peace Corps? 

I was in the Peace Corps for three years. Typically Peace Corps is 27 months, but I extended my service by a year to be the PCVL (Peace Corps Volunteer Leader) for my region.

Where did you serve?

 Peru. I lived in a town of about 1000 people that borders Ecuador in the foothills of the Andes.

Tell us more about your experience — What did you do, and what was your favorite part about the experience? 

I was a Community Health Volunteer. I focused on two primary projects; one working with mothers and infants in nutrition, hygiene, and early childhood development, and another with teenagers focused on sexual health and leadership.

I worked closely with the municipal government, local public schools, the local health system, and community health workers for both projects. The women’s and infant health project primarily consisted of workshops and household visits, and we built clean cookstoves for families that typically cooked over open fire indoors. For our adolescent sexual health project, we trained a group of teenagers to be peer educators, and they presented to both their school and neighboring schools about topics ranging from HIV/AIDS to self-esteem.

By living in the community, Peace Corps also allows you to be involved in ways outside of those outlined by your project goals. For example, during summer vacation, I taught students English classes, supported the implementation of an adolescent health program led by the local health center, and began a women’s community bank to promote financial literacy and independence.

When reflecting on my experience in the Peace Corps, I remember most fondly the lasting relationships that were made during my service. The pace of life was much slower, which meant a lot of time for lingering afternoon conversations at the health post or mid-morning house visits that turned into lunch invitations. I am fortunate to have maintained contact with my host family and many of my friends, and I continue to be so appreciative of the unwavering generosity they showed me for those three years.

How has the Peace Corps helped you in your career?

Peace Corps provided me with skills that have been invaluable to my career and skills that have served me more broadly in life. The experience required me to accept ambiguity, cultivate patience, and embrace failure while expanding my perspective and sense of cultural humility. 

Peace Corps also allows volunteers to develop skills in project management, cross-cultural communication, and community organization – all of which are useful for a variety of career paths. More specifically to a career in international development, my time in the Peace Corps gave me insight into on-the-ground project implementation and the very real barriers faced by theoretically sound ideas.

What lessons from the Peace Corps do you bring to your role at Premise?

Peace Corps provided me with some experiences that are very obviously transferable to my role at Premise; for example I did quite a bit of on-the-ground data collection during my service, but it also taught me the flexibility to adjust to a quick-moving startup, the willingness to take risks in a disruptive tech space, and the ability to think creatively about new challenges. My time in the Peace Corps highlighted the importance of considering local contexts, which has led me to be excited about what Premise can accomplish for our international development clients. Through quality, agile data collection, we can support contextually relevant, data-driven decisions that better serve communities and individuals.

What would you say to someone who is thinking about joining the Peace Corps?

Go for it.

We would love to hear from you. Please reach out if you want to learn more about how we can help you apply data to every important organizational decision you make. If you’re a job seeker, please check out our careers page to see our current opportunities.