In a country where more than half of the population is under 30, UNDP Malawi has long been supporting Malawian youth in entrepreneurship and job opportunities.

One recent and exciting change has been the revitalisation of the UNDP Malawi Young Professional Programme.

The Country Office has opened its doors to youthful Malawian professionals with leadership potential and a passion for development work; to give them the opportunity to gain valuable work experience.

The younger pool of talent is set to enhance their professional skills through on-job mentoring and guidance from the different technical specialists within UNDP Malawi and beyond.

It has been 6 months since the programme was relaunched and we caught up with the Young Professionals to share their stories and experiences, working as part of UNDP Malawi’s international Country Office, which is made up of Malawian experts, and professionals of more than 15 different nationalities.

What do you find exciting about your work?

“My job has been quite exciting. Seeing the work that I do become an important part to a bigger picture and adopted, is one of the most significant and rewarding successes for me.” Christina 

“On a good day, I get a chance to work with projects by designing systems, all of which are at various stages of completion. Other days I’m up and down supporting users, especially when they have important video conferences/webinars to attend. What I love most is the satisfaction of knowing that the work I do greatly impacts the development of my country even though I am not directly influencing the processes. By doing my job right, I know that I am helping my colleagues in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.” Tadala

 “The YP Program is a fantastic and unique learning platform for young professionals. It is incredibly stimulating both professionally and personally.   I am particularly grateful that I have an opportunity to maximize my exposure on development issues across different UNDP projects being implemented in Malawi. I am very sure that by the end of the program, I shall have greatly improved my skills set and knowledgeTissie

There is so much to gain all put in one place. It is exciting, challenging and offers learning opportunities for me. When I complete challenging assignments, I always get this sense of satisfaction that I have defied all odds and have pushed myself to get the best out of me.” Linly

“My focus area in Communication provides one with an opportunity to participate in all the projects and programmes at UNDP Malawi. This therefore provides a better opportunity to learn about diverse development issues and policies. Communication also allows you to meet different people and enhance your interpersonal skills” Chimwemwe

 

Any challenges that you faced when you joined the organisation?

“Understanding the UN language and the procedures and policies was a bit of a challenge” Tadala

“I struggled in remembering all the names of my colleagues!” Chionetsero

Any key lessons in your work so far?

“One of the key lessons I have learnt is to look beyond how many people benefit from our interventions or how much we must invest.  It is important to not overlook the quality of our interventions and its ability to be sustained after the financial and technical support that we provide comes to an end.”

“I have come to learn that development is more complex than often comprehended. It requires a lot of interlinkages between different areas, team work, innovation and problem solving to help achieve our development goals”

 

What are your thoughts on challenges that young professionals face in Malawi?

“Not many organisations are willing to open their doors and allow younger professionals to come in and start their professional careers.  There is also limited space for young people to contribute to their professions as they are perceived as having no experience”

“The current system of operations of organizations in public and private sector perceives young professionals as immature, lacking skills, and the necessary required competencies, which makes most of the young professionals frustrated in the process. Secondly, the system is slow and mostly analog. This leaves the current digital and instant generation, feeling frustrated as well. This to some extend might explain the mushrooming of youth-led organization or the migration of young professionals to other countries”

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