Emily Gordon is a graduate of Lehigh University, where she studied International Relations, Spanish, and Business. She spent a semester in Buenos Aires, Argentina studying foreign relations and working with a human rights organization. Emily has worked with a variety of international non-profits, including interning with Grameen Foundation’s Bankers without Borders® program in 2011.
After spending four years studying international relations and international development in college, I graduated bright-eyed and eager to go out into the world and start making a difference. I spent the summer researching different jobs and opportunities, looking for some way to get involved in the world of microfinance. When I was offered an internship working with Grameen Foundation on their Bankers without Borders (BwB) initiative, I immediately packed up, moved to Washington D.C., and never looked back.
As a recent graduate, it can be hard to find a place where you feel you are truly able to contribute. It seems that most internships and entry-level jobs consist of filing, answering phones and taking notes. Volunteering at Grameen Foundation could not have been more different. From the moment I started, I was given interesting and exciting tasks. I helped critique and perfect the BwB’s “Blueprint Projects,” creating clear guides for volunteers working with microfinance institutions (MFIs) on risk management, financial projection modeling, human capital management and Progress out of Poverty Index™ (PPI™) certifications. I was also able to use social media to create awareness and help recruit volunteers for BwB. I interacted with staff members around the world and heard first-hand accounts from volunteers completing their projects.
Working with Grameen Foundation was an invaluable experience. I met great people, learned a lot about microfinance, technology-for-development and social enterprise, and most importantly, felt that I was able to use my skills to help make a difference in the world. That feeling of accomplishment was one of the best parts of volunteering with BwB. Many students, business professionals and retirees hear about microfinance and are eager to learn more and get involved, but without direct microfinance experience, it can be difficult to find a place to volunteer or gain experience. BwB helps people use the skills they already have to make a substantial impact on organizations fighting poverty all over the world.
You don’t need to be an expert on development to create positive change. Poverty-fighting organizations need experts in all different fields. During my time at Grameen Foundation I saw lawyers, marketing experts, graduate students, engineers, bankers and others help with different BwB projects. Everyone can offer something when it comes to making the world a better place.
Working with Grameen Foundation helped me see how microfinance and technology can change the lives of the world’s poor. I plan on taking what I’ve learned and continuing to work in international development. Wherever my life takes me, I know I will continue to be a BwB volunteer – part of a smart, passionate and hardworking network. I encourage anyone who is interested in helping others to volunteer with Grameen Foundation. It will be an eye-opening, life-changing experience.
For more information on volunteering with Grameen Foundation, please visit BankersWithoutBorders.com.