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Upskilling with FLUSH

Updated: Jan 29

Reflections from a four-month apprenticeship

Rewind to June 2020: I had just completed my bachelor’s in international relations. My plan was to work for the summer and then move to England for a gap year before law school. But, as I’m sure you can appreciate, the backdrop of a global pandemic wasn’t very conducive to planning gap year adventures. For this reason and the fact that my undergraduate experience ended rather abruptly, I began to feel restless almost immediately.

I always want to be learning and making progress, so this brought me to FLIK (a platform to connect female founders with apprentices). Then, FLIK brought me to FLUSH (and Kim). If you’re new to FLUSH, they work in the water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) sector and offer education, advocacy, and consulting services.

I was eager to use my background in international relations while developing new skills. I was immediately drawn to Kim’s profile because of her international WASH projects and marketing expertise. I was always interested in marketing but felt it was out of my reach since I didn’t have any relevant experience and didn’t know where to start. In my first meeting with Kim, she asked me what I wanted to learn, I said marketing, and she said, cool, let’s do it.

Kim maintained that kind of attitude throughout the apprenticeship, which made the experience really collaborative and flexible (so flexible that it was supposed to be three months and became four!). I ended up creating FLUSH’s official marketing strategy. I would describe the process as one of trial and error, where I got to learn on the go and have fun with it.

So now it’s November, and I’m here reflecting on my main takeaways:

1. It’s worth taking your time on big projects. At the beginning of the apprenticeship, Kim asked me to submit a project proposal for developing the marketing strategy. I originally suggested a deadline of two weeks. Yep, you read that right: two weeks! I was coming from student life, where I was used to late-night grinds and tight deadlines. I didn’t really have a grasp on how long I would need to produce my best work. Thankfully, Kim suggested the deadline be at the end of my apprenticeship. Secondary learning here: three months isn’t even that long!

2. Marketing is important (but also underrated) within the WASH sector. There seems to be very few marketing and communications specialists within the WASH sector, which hinders its capacity-building efforts and the sustainability of WASH projects. This is a lesson that is applicable outside the WASH sector as well – just because the work is important doesn’t mean it will just market itself. It really is worth having experts to focus on that task specifically.

3. I am in control of which skills I develop. Like I mentioned earlier, I used to feel like marketing was an interesting field but inaccessible to me. My degree was completely unrelated, and my professional experience was mostly in customer service and administration. This apprenticeship taught me that if I want to gain skills to increase my employability, I have to be deliberate in how I nurture those skills and seek relevant opportunities.

I’m so appreciative of FLIK for the platform to find this opportunity and Kim for being such a great mentor. Now instead of scrolling past marketing jobs on LinkedIn, I’m actually applying for them!


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