ILDS Volunteer Case Study: Schenelle D’lima
4 August 2020
In 2019 Schenelle joined the ILDS team as a volunteer in our London office. Over 12 months she supported the development of impact reports for IFD projects in Argentina, Mexico and Cambodia, as well as our DermLink grants. Below she talks about her volunteer experience and what she achieved with her time at the ILDS.
I am an Indian expatriate who was born and raised in Dubai. Given my interest in Biology and a keenness to explore laboratory-based careers, I pursued my undergraduate degree in Biomedical Science at the University of Sheffield in the United Kingdom. However, I realised that I did not enjoy the laboratory aspect of my degree and was eager to venture out of the life sciences route. Work experience in a philanthropic organisation helped me discover an interest in international development. Hence, I decided to pursue my postgraduate degree in ‘Global Health and Development’ at the University College London (UCL). This degree was the ideal blend of what I studied during my undergraduate degree and what further skills and knowledge I wished to gain to work in international development.
How I came to volunteer at the ILDS:
Studying in London was a great opportunity to gain exposure in the various global health organisations present in the city. I came across the ‘Impact Volunteer’ role at the ILDS on the UCL Volunteering portal. I found this role appealing for several reasons. Creating impact reports for the organisation’s humanitarian dermatology programmes would give me valuable insights into how international health projects are run. I would also gain knowledge about dermatology in the context of global health, something I would have otherwise never had the opportunity to explore. I decided to apply for the role as it was the ideal way to gain experience in a global health organisation and put my learning from my postgraduate degree into perspective. I started volunteering with the ILDS in February 2019 and continued to do so until January 2020.
I produced impact reports activities that took place in 2018 for the International Foundation for Dermatology’s (IFD) programmes in Argentina, Mexico, and Cambodia. I also worked on an impact report for the 2018 DermLink projects in India, Nigeria, Philippines, Sri Lanka, the Caribbean, and Nepal.
During this process, I learned more about adapting my writing style for a lay audience. I had to think about presenting details and data about the programmes in a layout that would be eye-catching and easily understandable. This enabled me to become more skilled in written communication. While brainstorming ways to make the reports more attractive, I gained exposure in basic graphic design and learnt about various resources to do the same. For example, I created infographics for the reports using a website called ‘the noun project’, and I now consider this a valuable resource. Having had no previous experience in graphic design, I found this aspect of creating the reports very enriching.
My role also went beyond producing impact reports. At times, I was asked to proofread ILDS publications like the Community Skin Health journal. I also got the unique opportunity to volunteer during the IFD strategy development meeting where I had the opportunity to observed discussions about the organisation’s future work and conversed with ILDS board members and advisors.
During my volunteering experience, I gained wider skills like project planning, time management, document editing and networking. I was able to highlight my work and the skills I gained in my job applications and during interviews. This experience was also key in helping me secure an internship in a large health research organisation after my postgraduate degree.
Through conversations with the ILDS staff members, I gained a better understanding of how their roles fit into achieving the organisation’s vision and mission. They were also incredibly supportive as they provided valuable advice and feedback for the reports. Volunteering at the ILDS was an enriching part of my year in London and was the ideal platform to kick start a career in the global health field.
It was a pleasure to work with Schenelle, to see her learn and grow through the 12 months she was with us. If you would like to volunteer with us please email Somanah on firstname.lastname@example.org.