Once he had secured his place as a Global Talent intern, his time at GOAL began with a 4-5 month induction period spent at headquarters in Dublin. Niall feels that this gave him an essential grounding in the inner workings of the organisation. "Within a few months, you get to know the structure of GOAL and you get to know your team and your manager," he explains. "The idea is to give someone who might not have that much experience an overall introduction to the sector. They really go through a lot with you in a short space of time."
First steps in Global Talent
Niall began the programme alongside four other interns, and after the initial settling-in period, two of his fellow candidates were sent on eight-month placements abroad - to Kenya, Haiti. Niall remained in headquarters, where he's become a key part of GOAL's communication and media team. Currently, his day-to-day duties largely involve communicating information about GOAL's diverse operations to a global audience. "We work in 19 countries around the world, so we need to keep people constantly updated about what we're doing everywhere we are," he says. "We get a lot of raw information coming in from people who are working on the various programmes, and one task is to turn that into something people can actually read and our supporters can follow in an easy manner."
As well as liaising with GOAL staff in the field, Niall also helps to write press releases and material for GOAL's social media channels, as well as working on advocacy programmes. It's a role that involves a talent for writing - and a serious amount of research. He already feels he's absorbed a lot of knowledge in his time with GOAL and credits the diversity of the staff with helping him to broaden his horizons. "Within our own team there are people who were journalists, people who've worked with NGOs before, people that were teachers, and then we have people who are more programme-focused and work in the field," he says. "I think having people from a variety of backgrounds is beneficial to any work environment, and especially when you're starting off it's useful to have colleagues who can teach you a little bit about everything and give you a bit of a leg up with their own experience."
Learning how GOAL operates in the field
This summer, Niall also travelled to Turkey to see how GOAL operates on the ground. "I went over there in July to work on programme assistance," he explains. "The GOAL offices are based in a town called Antakya, which is about 40 minutes from the Syrian border. We operate various health teams and outreach clinics there. I was essentially providing operations assistance to the people who were meeting Syrian refugees on a daily basis."
Niall feels his time in Turkey gave him a heightened appreciation of the serious nature of GOAL's work around the world. "It was really fascinating because it gave me an insight into the stuff I've been writing about for the previous few months," he recalls. "It was great to give a more realistic context to the stuff that had been purely conceptual before that." Unfortunately, his time in Turkey ended after only a couple of weeks when the country became embroiled in a military coup. "It was a very bizarre and fascinating time," he says. "Seeing something so significant unfold before my eyes is something I'll never forget for the rest of my life."
He's already learned a huge amount in his relatively short time with GOAL and Niall believes that curiosity and a thirst for knowledge are essential for anyone who's thinking of applying to the Global Talent programme. "I think you need a genuine interest in different cultures, and the way people around the world live their lives on a day-to-day basis," he explains. "From the foods they eat to the religions they practice, it's essential to be interested and tailor your own work towards what people need from the humanitarian side and also from the communications side.
Building a career in charity
Niall sees the global nature of GOAL as a huge asset for anyone starting out in the charity sector, and is excited to continue to learn from his colleagues. "It is possible to have a look at the operations all over the world, see where there are jobs, and talk to people within the organisation who might have a little bit more knowledge or experience in those areas and work towards pursuing that direction," he says.
And his advice for anyone thinking of applying to be part of Global Talent? "Do your research," he says. "Think long and hard about what GOAL does, where they operate and why they operate there. And then consider how your own experience could contribute to that and augment and improve what GOAL does around the world."
Interested in a career at GOAL?
The Global Talent programme is not currently accepting applications. Keep an eye on our Careers page for updates on the next phase of the programme.
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