Students and Alumni Learn about Careers with OSF

November 18, 2016

CEU students and alumni gathered in person and online to hear about global careers with the Open Society Foundations on November 15. The event, which was organized by the CEU and SPP Offices of Career Services, opened with a six-minute film about “George Soros and Open Society.” Members of OSF’s global recruitment team spoke about roles and hiring procedures within OSF. Two OSF staff members who serve specific OSF programs also participated by describing their work. “I got a lot of useful information from the event and especially appreciated being able to listen to the presentations from Brussels,” said alumnus Adrien Elleboudt (IRES ‘07).

Akin Martins, a global recruitment partner who works out of OSF’s London office, provided an overview of the foundation’s work over the last 32 years. He noted that OSF is the largest funder of human rights organizations in the world. He went on to explain that OSF recruits globally for its offices around the world for program officers, who are required to have 7-10 years of field experience and are the foundation’s “pivotal grantmaking position;” program administrative officers, who are responsible for logistics and budgeting; program specialists, who support the grantmaking process by conducting research and analysis and assessing the overall “sustainability” of potential grantees; program administrative specialists, a “complex operational support position;” entry-level program administrative assistants; and for a limited number of fellowships.

Daniela Aydin (One-Year MAPP ‘08), who is a program specialist with the Eurasia Program in Budapest, described OSF as a place where “you don’t get bored.” She stressed the importance of communication and relationship-building skills in her work, which often involves close coordination with OSF foundations in the region.

Gregory Czarnecki, who is the LGBTI program officer of the Open Society Human Rights Initiative (HRI), said that he had always wanted to be an activist and that the experience he gained working in the field with the Warsaw-based Campaign Against Homophobia (KPH) is invaluable to him in his current position at OSF. He went on to explain that program officers rely on the knowledge and experience they acquired as activists when evaluating potential grantees and deciding which organizations OSF will fund. Czarnecki said that “there is a lot of due diligence work here [at OSF]. You need to be able to show what you have done.” He agreed with Aydin about the importance of writing well, and of being able to make a “good argument.”

In response to one of many questions from the audience, Czarnecki explained that OSF measures impact in ways that differ from program to program, depending on goals, and that it relies on both quantitative and qualitative data. He said that HRI prioritizes funding organizations that are “rooted” in the area.

Global Recruitment Partner Sara Dushey, who is based in New York, said that OSF received 40,000 job applications last year – and that “we read every single one.” The foundation receives on average 500 applications for program administrative assistant positions, 300-400 for program specialist positions, and 200 applications for program officer positions. 

“It was very gratifying that so many people came out for this event,” said CEU Career Services Manager Cristina Balint-Nagy. Ann Gagliardi, SPP Director of Career Services and Alumni Relations, concurred, adding, “We look forward to organizing more events like this so that students and alumni have the opportunity to learn about possible career paths and recruitment practices within specific organizations.”