Graduate Profile: Kelly Royds

Kelly Royds

Name: Kelly Royds

What degree/s did you study (and year of completion)?
Bachelor of Arts (Media and Communications), Majors in Government and International Relations and Performance Studies at the University of Sydney. Completed in 2009.
Masters by Research “Children and Participatory Video”, Journalism Media Research Centre, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (expected 2014) at UNSW.


Where do you currently work (sector/organisation) and what is your position title?
I am the program coordinator for ChildFund Connect, a global education program that connects children in Australia, Laos, Timor-Leste and Vietnam through shared media learning projects. I facilitate various educational and media literacy activities with groups, and classrooms, of children in Australia and several developing countries.

Describe a typical day/week in your role. What do you enjoy most about your work?
A typical day at work can be quite varied. I spend one third of my time working in Australian primary schools, specifically with year 5 and 6 classrooms and teachers, running media and cultural-exchange activities. The other third is spent in the office designing activities and evaluations for program activities in Australia, and also on Skype with the project officers in Vietnam, Laos, Timor-Lese and Sri Lanka. I spend the final third of my time in the field, in Vietnam, Laos, Timor-Leste or Sri Lanka, supporting the coordination and facilitation of the individual country projects.

I definitely enjoy the face-to-face time I get to spend with kids, teachers and the project staff in country the most. I feel incredibly lucky and humbled to work with such a diverse range of cultures and children. Most of the time, I think I learn more from them then they do from me.

What are some of the biggest challenges in your current role?
I think the challenging part of working with children is that there are no set rules or guidelines. So, at times I think I may have stumbled across a great way of doing something, like how to support the kids creating storyboard for their films, only to realise it doesn’t work at all with this group of kids even though it worked brilliantly with another class. So, the challenge is to be flexible and open to experimentation and unexpected outcomes. And in this sense, the only thing you can rely on, when you are in a classroom or in a community centre, is your experience and common sense.

Can you give a summary of your career journey so far? How did you get started in your career? What recruitment processes did you go through? What has been the highlight of your career to date?
During my undergrad, I worked as an Assistant Coordinator of an Out Of School Hours Care centre (OOSHC). This position didn’t have much to do with my study, but I loved working with primary school kids and coming up with fun and challenging activities. I started a kids’ magazine while I was working there and, later, received an AKF scholarship to intern as a journalist in South Korea. I also had a brief stint of work experience in Fiji, at the Fijian Times. So, it was around then that I started figuring out I wanted to work in media and development. But, I also knew I was good at working with children and found it very rewarding, so I accepted a research opportunity with the NSW Commission for Children and Young People (CCYP).

Then, I got the job with ChildFund Australia designing and implementing the program I currently work on, which brings together my three key interests: children, media and community development. I’ve had lots of highlights in this role, from caving in rural Laos to producing a film made by children from four very different countries.

Which skills are highly valued by employers in your field? In your experience, what are the qualities of successful candidates eg relevant work experience, specific degree or industry qualification, specific skills, networks, extracurricular involvement?
In my experience, being practical and pragmatic are critical, transferable skills you need to work in international or community development. Relevant field experience is also very important, because it can show an employer how you function in different, and sometimes challenging, work environments. Postgrad degrees in relevant fields, like health or community development, also seem to be useful in showing a candidate’s interest or expertise.

I find it useful to stay up to date with what different organisations’ are looking for, by checking out DEVEX every now and again at www.devex.com

I also like reading WhyDEV and various international development bloggers. www.whydev.org

I am also part of the Sydney Development Circle, and find it informative to go to some of their events that highlight different aid and development issues. You can find their website here www.sdc.groupsite.com

How do you keep current in your field? (eg professional development, membership of professional associations, conferences, networks)
I try to attend some professional development short courses once or twice a year, either to brush up my media skills (film, photography) or my working with children skills (child protection, education). I also attend relevant conferences and present my work, and use these spaces to network and learn from others working in similar fields.

I find twitter really useful to stay up to date with what others are doing in education, communication for development and international development.