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20 Dec 12

 tOM BAYLEM, 25, ICS volunteer, Sierra Leone

"I applied for International Citizen Service (ICS) with Restless Development during my final year of an MA in International Relations and Modern History at the University of Saint Andrews.

I’d known for some time that I wanted to pursue a career in international development.
I volunteered with Restless Development in Freetown, Sierra Leone during the summer of 2011. 

With one colleague, Oliver, I was tasked to research and compile the first National Youth Report ever attempted in the small country, intended primarily as a guide for the newly-established National Youth Commission. Ten years on from the civil war, we sought to assess the situation of young people and recommend policy priorities for the Sierra Leonean government.

The work involved conducting focus groups all over Sierra Leone with over 200 young people from different demographics. We also worked in close collaboration with government ministries and held consultation meetings with all the key NGOs and UN organisations working in the country. Towards the end of the placement, we were given the chance to present our findings at a large conference held at the national stadium and attended by several ministers.

For myself, ICS was an intense period of immense personal and professional development and it represented a crucial stepping-stone into the development sector. I now work as a Policy Officer at the Department for International Development. I honestly don’t think I would have made it through the incredibly competitive selection process without ICS on my CV.

There are loads of great reasons to volunteer overseas with ICS and I’d recommend it to anyone – it’s definitely not just for people looking for a job in this sector. However, if a career in development is what you want, ICS can give you the edge you’ll need to succeed in a really tough marketplace.”

Tom Baylem
Tom (left) and Oliver (right) with some of the the focus group participants in Koidu