Continuing your personal and professional development

reverse culture shock







Everyone who aspires to be a change-maker will encounter challenges on their journey. It is important to understand and explore the reasons for this and think about ways to approach these challenges using the skills you have gained. As a Commonwealth Alumnus, you can also draw on the wealth of expertise and experiences across the CSC Alumni community.

Below are several free online resources developed by external organisations to help you effectively advocate for change and support your next steps.

This list is not exhaustive- help us develop this page by sharing other resources you access to support your professional and personal development. You can share links to resources by contacting us at

The CSC is not responsible for the content of external sites.

Reverse culture shock

In preparation for your Commonwealth Scholarship in the UK, you will have considered a number of things that you will need to adjust to during your studies- the weather, missing family and friends and feeling homesick, settling into a new environment and way of doing things, and learning a new culture and academic system to name a few. This is termed culture shock.

You may be surprised to know that on your return, you may also need to give yourself time to adjust to being back at home- reverse culture shock. During your time in the UK, things may have changed in your home environment, workplace, and country. It is important to remember that you may also have changed following time living in a different culture and being exposed to new things and people. In some cases, family and friends may need time to get to know the ‘new’ you.

culture shock

Taking time to acknowledge and adjust to these changes is important and will help with any feelings of reverse culture shock. Focus on the positive aspects of being back home, such as seeing family, friends, and work colleagues, sharing your stories of living and studying in the UK, and rediscovering your local area and home country. If there are changes you are concerned about, you may wish to reach out to family and friends and let them know your concerns so they can support you.

Remember to take things one step at a time to avoid feeling overwhelmed or pressured and know that you are not alone. Maintaining your global connections with fellow students and Commonwealth Scholars you met during your time in the UK will also help during this period as many will be going through the same adjustment.

The UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) has published a useful guide and tips to support international students who may be experiencing reverse culture shock following their studies in the UK. You can access these resources on the UKCISA website. Your UK university International Office, Alumni Office, and Students Unions may also provide advice and resources, so do check their webpages or reach out for support.

yellow steps

Develop your professional, employability and workplace skills

Revisit the CSC’s online development module

If you enrolled onto the CSC’s online development module, ‘Understanding Development Impact’, you can still access this to review information and key learning points.

Prepare for your next career move

Most UK universities provide a careers service to their alumni which can be a great source of inspiration and ideas for seeking new employment or accessing advice and tips on writing CVs and developing your interview skills. Visit your UK university’s alumni and career webpages to find out more.

Grow your policy and leadership skills

  • The online course, Ideas for a Better World: Leading Change Through Policymaking, to build knowledge and awareness about policymaking and leadership.
  • You can also join the British Council online course, Effective Policymaking to Build the Impact Economy, to learn how to develop policy that supports businesses to respond to pressing challenges and create an inclusive and fair economy.
  • Leaders are all around us – we encounter them at work and in our spare time, we read about them in the press – but have you ever wondered what makes them good or bad at their role? The Open University has created a free online course, Leadership and Followership, to help you to explore what makes a good leader, recognise common leadership challenges, and identify the skills you need to develop if you want to enhance your own leadership experience.
  • Communication is key to becoming an effective and inspiring leader. The online course, Leading With Effective Communication (Inclusive Leadership Training), will explores strategies to enhance your communication skills and approach.

Build your intercultural communication skills

      • The online course, Communicating Across Cultures, to boost your intercultural communication skills and better understand how to behave in multicultural and multilingual situations.
      • Teamwork is a key competency in all job roles at all levels of employment. Whether working with colleagues, external stakeholders, or donors, understanding your role and the diversity of these different teams is key to successful teamwork. Working in diverse teams, will introduce you to the value of teamwork, team roles, and how to market your experience to employers.

Explore the potential of entrepreneurship and social enterprises

You may be interested in starting your own business or social enterprise to advocate for positive economic and social change.

      • Entrepreneurship- from ideas to reality uses case studies and practical advice from real entrepreneurs to take you through key decisions to building a business.
      • Social Enterprise UK have developed a range of resources to support those looking to start social enterprise.
      • Expert Impact offers advice and mentoring from successful entrepreneurs to those looking to start their own social enterprise.

Hone your networking skills

Networking helps build and foster professional relationships, identify new opportunities, share best practice and ideas, and promotes your personal professional achievements. Read below some top tips for networking:

  1. Always be ready to pitch yourself and your ideas/work. Networking doesn’t happen only at conferences or networking events.
  2. Remember to be an active listener so you can learn about the other person.
  3. If you collect business cards from the people you meet, write the location, name of the conference/meeting, and 3-4 keywords about your discussion on the back of the card. This will help you remember them and your discussion more easily and why you might want to follow-up with them.
  4. Follow-up with the people you meet. You may not have an immediate reason to seek their advice or support, but sow the seeds for a long-term connection.
  5. Practice makes perfect- keep meeting new people and sharing your work and research. Networking will get easier with time and practice.

A key ingredient to networking is introductions- both when you meet new people and when connecting others together. Below is a simple formula to help make easy and impactful introductions to help you stand out from the crowd.

  • Present: Currently I am…
    • Past: Before that, I…
    • Future: In the future, I plan to/will…

You can use and adapt the Present/Past/Future formula when meeting new people, in job interviews, and in meetings. Keep your points concise and highlight key information.


Allyship can be defined as actions, behaviours, and practices that people take to support, amplify, and advocate with others, particularly those with less privilege, such as marginalised or underrepresented groups. Allyship is an active and consistent practice in which individuals recognise and use their privilege and/or influence in support of others.

Becoming an effective ally

Effective allies are those who educate themselves about the challenges others may face and take action and initiative to lead positive change.


Some of the ways you can start and continue to be an effective ally are listed below:

      • Listen actively to the experiences, perspectives and needs of those you are supporting.
      • Educate yourself. Don’t expect marginalised or underrepresented groups to be responsible for your learning. Personal, lifelong education is key to being an effective ally.
      • Learn, unlearn, re-learn, and evaluate your understanding on the challenges and issues marginalised and underrepresented groups face. You may uncover biases and misconceptions which you weren’t aware you held.
      • Challenge and/or report discrimination and inappropriate behaviour, if it is safe to do so. Whilst it may be hard to do this, it is even harder for those experiencing discrimination.
      • Create space for dialogue and ensure all those participating feel heard and respected.
      • Remember to be an ally with others and not for them. Your actions should support their needs, not what you think their needs are.

Supporting women leaders

The following groups and organisations have been recommended by Commonwealth Alumni as useful resources to support female alumni in achieving their potential and becoming future leaders.

  • Girls for Girls helps young women develop the courage, vision and skills to take on leadership
  • TheBoardroom Africa is the largest regional network of female executives in Africa and represents over 2,500 executive women from more than 65 countries with work in or focused on Africa
  • Female Future Program supports female talent in Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania to participate in a leadership and boardroom competence development program created by the Confederation of Norwegian Enterprise (NHO)
  • Organization for Women in Science for the Developing World (OWSD) is the first international forum to unite eminent women scientists from low income and high income countries with the objective of strengthening their role in the development process and promoting their representation in scientific and technological leadership
  • WISCAR (Women In Successful Careers) is a non-governmental organisation set up in 2008 to assist professional career women in achieving their full potential.
  • ShEquity seeks to provide smart and sustainable investments for African female entrepreneurs and innovators to drive inclusive socio-economic growth. They facilitate access to a pool of de-risked deals to investors and empower female entrepreneurs with financial resources and operational support needed to unlock their full potential.
  • Powerful Women and the Principles of Feminist Transformational Leadership: Explore transformative leadership strategies from a feminist perspective. Guided by experts in gender and development studies, this three-week FutureLearn course developed by the University of the West Indies will introduce you to feminist transformational leadership theory and practice.
  • AfriProspect connects African innovators with global markets to enable sustainable female-led startups to grow and scale their businesses.

Continue your research

  • Special Terms for Authors & Researchers (STAR) is a unique Taylor & Francis initiative developed to provide authors and researchers in the Global South with free access to articles from leading international and regional journals across subject areas. STAR is available in over 50 countries and provides free access to up to 50 journal articles, or for 12 months after your registration. To find out more about the STAR initiative, read the terms and conditions, and register, visit the Taylor & Francis website.
  • Scopus is the largest abstract and citation database of peer-reviewed literature: scientific journals, books and conference proceedings. Scopus offers free features to non-subscribed users and is available through Scopus Preview. Researchers may use Scopus to assist with their research, such as searching authors, and learning more about Scopus content coverage and source metrics.
  • AuthorAID is a free pioneering global network that provides support, mentoring, resources and training for researchers in low and middle income countries.

Evaluating and communicating impact

Understanding how to assess, evaluate, and communicate the impact of an intervention is an important part of monitoring its success and making informed decisions on future developments. Being able to communicate this with a range of stakeholders is also important to ensure everyone understands the value of your work.

  • BetterEvaluation has developed guidance on impact evaluation and approaches.
  • INASP support individuals and organisations to produce, share and use research and knowledge, which can transform lives. You can access reports, publications, and links to online resources via the website.
  • UKRI Economic and Social Research Council have produced an impact toolkit to support social science researchers to generate research impact.
  • AfriLabs is a network organisation supporting Innovation Centers across African countries around emerging technology hubs. These hubs serve as centres, providing support to African entrepreneurs, innovators, developers, and youth.
  • Sci DEV Net have produced free practical guides which offer tips on a range of themes related to communicating, publishing, and advancing your work.
  • Development and You (DIY) have produced a DIY Toolkit designed for development practitioners to invent, adopt, or adapt ideas that can deliver better results.
  • Sharing ideas with the public and effectively engaging the communities in which you work is an important part of delivering change. The Wellcome Trust has developed guidance to support public engagement planning.
grant funding

Access funding and grant opportunities

There are a number of organisations which provide funding and grant opportunities that you can apply for. Below we have a listed a few which you may wish to explore and sign-up to receive updates and alerts when opportunities are available.