Premise’s growth is being driven by employees that bring a diverse array of backgrounds and skills to our company.
Every year, thousands of people join the Peace Corps to drive change in developing nations. They travel to remote locations around the world, learn about new cultures, work with a diverse group of people, and develop new skills that help set them up for future career success.
How long have you been at Premise?
Since January 2021
What do you do here at Premise?
I’m part of the Global Operations team at Premise where I get to feed into a truly wide range of work. I help prepare the launch of the Premise app in new countries; monitor our existing networks to ensure they are healthy and active; test and experiment new types of data collection; and oversee several of our global data products.
How long were you in the Peace Corps for?
I was in the Peace Corps for the standard 27 months. This involved 3 months of ‘Pre-Service Training’ in a town about 4 hours from the capital and then two full years at my post.
Where did you serve?
I served in Kumbo, Cameroon, which is a beautiful and temperate mountain town in the Northwest Region of the country bordering Nigeria.
Tell us more about your experience — What did you do, and what was your favorite part about the experience?
The great thing about the Peace Corps is that you have the freedom to not only dive into your assigned position, but also identify and take on new projects that are important to your community.
I began as an Education and Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) Volunteer teaching classes at a local middle and high school. However, soon after I arrived, I looked for projects outside of teaching to work on as well. Despite having nearly 20 computers — a large quantity for a rural Cameroonian school — the electric infrastructure coming to the school could only support four at one time. Because of this, I helped design, fundraise, and implement a technology infrastructure project that brought updated power to the school, enabling all of the computers to run simultaneously.
We also renovated the computer lab and purchased a digital projector, new desks, and other items. I also ran a series of Training of Teachers classes for the school’s teaching staff so that they could reach a certain level of computer literacy to help them in their own classroom work.
In addition to my work at the school, I co-founded a youth magazine, which allowed me to put my undergraduate degree in journalism to good use. The project involved working with local school journalism clubs, teaching the students journalism basics and best practices, and having them go out into the community to report on issues of importance to them. I also was able to help with other shorter term water projects in the community, as well.
While the work was fulfilling, I think the most rewarding part of the Peace Corps is the cross-cultural connections that you make. Many people aren’t aware that two out of the three Peace Corps goals are to further cultural understanding between the US and your host country. As someone implementing ground-level development, these interactions can often last longer than any one project you work on during your time.
Thankfully, I still keep in touch with many of my friends and former colleagues back in Cameroon to this day. I lived in an area that was steeped in a still-vibrant traditional culture, and experiencing and participating in that first hand was incredible.
How has the Peace Corps helped you in your career?
As someone working in the international development space prior to joining Premise, serving in the Peace Corps was invaluable to my professional career. It gave me a better sense of the obstacles that arise when implementing projects in rural or lower-income communities, and allowed me to integrate my later work in graduate school with real world experiences from my two years in Cameroon.
My time there also instilled a level of patience that I surely did not have prior to leaving the US. When you’ve waited at a carpark for 10 hours for your next ride, waiting 30 minutes or an hour for feedback on an item from a colleague seems like a much smaller burden.
Serving in the Peace Corps also greatly strengthened my project management skills. Due to the logistical challenges that could always arise in Cameroon, it was important to contingency plan and build potential setbacks into any project timeline, which has been really valuable later in my professional career. While the types of setbacks may be different now, the process of identifying and building them into your timeline remains the same.
What lessons from the Peace Corps do you bring to your role at Premise?
I learned a great deal during the Peace Corps that can help me in my role at Premise, but one thing that sticks out is the desire to ensure that projects are designed and implemented with local contexts in mind. Premise is a global company that gathers data in over 100 countries, therefore, it’s vital to continually ask ‘Would this make sense in X country?” or “How can we better design this to obtain higher quality data in Y region?”. You might not always have the answer to these questions, but asking them is a step in the right direction.
What would you say to someone who is thinking about joining the Peace Corps?
Do it. Full stop.
In all seriousness, two years seems daunting but it goes by in a flash. You’ll have a slew of exciting experiences, make new friends from all walks of life, and help deliver tangible ground-level development to your host community. If I could do it all over again, I certainly would, and maybe I will once I retire…
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