How to Break into a Career in Monitoring and Evaluation
Monitoring and evaluation, also known as the short form “M&E” is an emerging field in international development. Before, an M&E personnel was unheard of, or simply an “option” if it fits within the budget. Now, however, organizations are not only assigning development projects to third-party contractors, but also assigning third party consultants (or M&E specialists) who are required to monitor and evaluate an ongoing project and ensure everything goes as planned.
As we mentioned earlier, the field is new, for which reason the demand for workers in this area is pretty high while the supply is pretty low. This means that if you fulfill the needs and requirements of this occupation, you are highly likely to get a position in the area of work.
Young professionals who wish to initiate a career in M&E need to try out the following.
- Have the Required Qualifications: The M&E field calls for employees with technical know-how. By technical we mean that you have to build on your quantitative skills such as data and information analysis and interpretation. This involves the field of statistics (or mathematics), econometrics, and other fields relevant to data analysis and interpretation. This includes knowing software like SPSS and STATA. You can even sign-up for a certificate course, diploma, or degree program specifically in Monitoring and Evaluation. Explore various options and equip yourself with the right quantitative skills and qualifications.If you are planning on becoming an M&E specialist in a specific area of focus such as forestry, nutrition, or reproductive health, it would help if you further your focus with qualifications in those areas as well. Additional experience will also allow you to focus on your area of concentration and be more in demand for that particular field.
- Build Your InquiringTalent: Do you have an inquisitive mind that seeks for answers to your questions? If so, you have what is needed to have an M&E personnel’s mindset. A monitoring and evaluation position requires personnel to ask all the right questions, figure out what is or isn’t being done, and even predicts possible outcomes of the ongoing project. All of these tasks require a highly inquisitive mind that has a keen ability to judge and make predictions.
- Keep Reading: Develop reading habits in field-relevant areas. Find out as much as you can about development projects and all the nittygritties of the particular subject. Familiarize yourself with “best practices” and methods. Also make sure you learn all the international standards and rules that involving your field such as the ISO 9000, PRINCE 2, and GAPPS.
- Develop Local and International Networks: It is necessary to build networks in the field for two main reasons: to gain knowledge and advice and to assist your recruitment. Seasoned professionals in the field will also give you guidance on where, what, and how you can gain experience whereto start out. Let respected professionals share their stories on how they made broke in to the field and what they wish they had done right when they started out. If need be, you can hire a coach or a mentorto the same task.It is important to build international networks because many development projects span over international boundaries..
Be well-aware of this fact when you decide on this career. You won’t be sticking to one place during the course of your career.
- Gather Training and Experience: M&E specialists are frequently asked to step forward and organize formal training programs for young professional who wish to pursue a career in the field. From these programs, you can gather a wide array of knowledge and skills from the perspective of an expert. Ripa International is one such organization that invites professionals and organizes seminars or formal programs to train young individuals in the current best practices of M&E, insight into data management tools, improving the effectiveness of the M&E process, and many more M&E relevant topics.