By Kristin Kalning
It was May 2012 when Liz Kerosi boarded a flight from Nairobi to Garowe, Somalia. She had just finished her initial training with the NetHope Academy in her native Kenya, and had earned an internship with CARE in Somalia. She was 22 years old, alone, and a bit nervous.
A driver picked her up at the airport, along with two other vehicles to escort her to the CARE offices. “It was really somehow scary,” Kerosi recalls. “I didn’t expect that security, and I couldn’t speak to any of the drivers in the same language.”
Kerosi (pictured above with NetHope CEO Lauren Woodman and NetHope Vice President of Global Programs Frank Schott) spent six months interning in Somalia, and during that time, her managers gave her more challenging assignments, and offered training that helped build her confidence. As a result of that experience, Kerosi says she is “now able to comfortably work in very remote and hostile environments.”
After her internship ended, Kerosi returned to Kenya – and a job at CARE as an Information Communications Technology (ICT) Assistant. Then in May 2013, she was hired by Concern Worldwide - Kenya as the ICT assistant. She’s been there ever since, growing her skills and garnering a promotion to ICT Manager in 2015.
Some of Kerosi’s more notable achievements at Concern Worldwide include developing an Open Data Kit (ODK) tool, and supporting a program of over 12,000 beneficiaries using digital data collection. Kerosi credits the practical, on-the-job work experience she received from NetHope and CARE as an essential part of her development.
Kerosi’s path to humanitarian ICT
In late 2011, Kerosi had an undergraduate degree in IT, but she didn’t have a job. She saw an advertisement for the new NetHope Academy in Nairobi, and became a part of the school’s inaugural cohort. “I applied because I saw the courses, and I saw that they did [job] placement,” Kerosi says. “I thought it would be a good way to start over.”
Established in 2012, the NetHope Academy in Kenya offered a six-month development program for recent and soon-to-be college graduates. The program paired classroom training with an internship placement with participating NGOs, and graduated 150 students in two years. Since its inception six years ago, the NetHope Academy programs in Haiti, Kenya, Liberia, Rwanda, South Africa, Ghana, India and Egypt have graduated 1,662 students.
Though some of Kerosi’s Academy colleagues opted for private-sector jobs, her goal was to land a job in the non-profit sector. “I like the humanitarian side of ICT, and the way lives are impacted,” Kerosi explains. “I wanted to change lives.”
She points out that ICT is no longer about email, server management and user support. To succeed in the field, aspiring ICT workers need to develop unique skills. “Most humanitarian organizations are looking for people who can improve their systems and simplify their interventions through the use of technology,” she says.
At Concern, for example, Kerosi is proud of the way that her team has integrated with the program side. “We’ve been able to easily reach more beneficiaries and manage them better,” she says. “I also enjoy how I get to learn something new every day through interacting with different people with different demands.”
Kerosi is grateful for the training and the experience she received through the NetHope Academy. “I got certified to be a Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist and Microsoft Technology Associate through NetHope sponsorship,” she says. “I also was taken through various other courses, such as soft skills, which played a great role in my interactions and communication at work, and also my behavior at work.”