Julie Belanger

Keep an open mind because you never know where your career will bring you
 
Education Partnerships Group
Director, Research and Evaluation
Montreal, Canada
London, United Kingdom
Faculty of Arts
Language development in young children
David Geoffrey Hall
2006
 

Where and what is your current position?

I am a member of the senior management team at an emerging non-profit organization created to support governments in low- and middle-income countries to shape and strengthen their education systems while contributing to global evidence, policy and practice. I set the research, monitoring and evaluation standards for the organization. I engage with senior policy makers in many countries and collaborate with academics and researchers world-wide. I am also a Trustee and Director at a charity (Dartington Service Design Lab), an independent research charity committed to improving outcomes for children and young people in the UK.

Is your current career path as you originally intended?

Not at all! I never thought my career would have brought me to work at an international organization in Paris (OECD), followed by a not-for-profit research organization in London, UK (RAND) and then to work with governments in Sub-Saharan Africa. I have travelled to 40+ countries thanks to my career and have developed an impressive professional network, which I very much enjoy.

How does this job relate to your graduate degree?

In my work, I rely on a number of skills I have developed as part of my graduate degree: research design, statistic analyses of research data, writing skills, project management, team leadership, mentoring of young researchers, presentation skills.

What motivated you to pursue graduate work at UBC?

A good match between my research interest and the faculty at UBC and a strong desire to live in Vancouver were my main motivations, though the good reputation of the university was also a reason.

What did you enjoy the most about your time as a graduate student at UBC?

The ability to teach undergraduate classes, the good relationships with the other graduate students, the swimming facilities.

What are key things you did that contributed to your success?

Keeping an open mind, being flexible, understand the importance of networking and of leveraging current contacts.

What is your best piece of advice for current graduate students preparing for their future careers?

Keep an open mind because you never know where your career will bring you, don't close any doors too early. Take advantage of the students who are ahead of you by a few years - keep in touch with them to learn from their experience.

Did you have any breaks in your education?

No, I did not have any breaks in my education.

What challenges did you face in your graduate degree, or in launching your career?

Work visas - these are bureaucratically challenging and take time. When planning to work abroad, it is important to consider the limitations these bring. I also would have tried to engage more with policy while in academia.

What do you like and what do you find challenging about your current position?

My current position gives me the opportunity to learn about real challenges facing governments around the world and being involved in finding solutions that are contextually sensitive and relevant. It gives me the opportunity to have real impact in the education of young people around the globe while upholding my commitment to rigour and evidence.