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 a number of resources that you can access to help you effectively advocate for change and support your next steps, alongside advice from Commonwealth Alumni based on their post-scholarship experiences.
This list is not exhaustive- help us develop this page by sharing other resources you access to support your professional and personal development over the next few months so we can share these with all Alumni. You can share links to resources via the CSC’s Knowledge Hubs, your local alumni association, or by contacting us at email@example.com
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. 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.
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 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 period of 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.
Continue your professional and personal development
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.
Grow your policy and leadership skills
The British Council and the Møller Institute at Churchill College, University of Cambridge, have created 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.
Build your intercultural communication skills
The British Council have created the online course, Communicating Across Cultures, to boost your intercultural communication skills and better understand how to behave in multicultural and multilingual situations.
Develop your skills
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.
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 centers, providing support to African entrepreneurs, innovators, developers, and youths.
AfriProspect connects African innovators with global markets to enable sustainable female-led startups to grow and scale their businesses.
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
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.
‘Project funding within the university was limited for early career academics and especially access to relevant and up-to-date journals. Key strategies I employed to overcome this challenge included maximising opportunities to partner with foreign universities to access resources and developing a research cluster which offers membership to academics from around the world working in my field. Together we have been able to bid on joint projects and work on consultancies collaboratively.’
Dacia Leslie, 2011 Scholar from Jamaica
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.
Develop your employability and workplace skills
Your university careers service
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.
You should take the time to review your skills and knowledge and the areas of work where these are most relevant, as this may now have changed.
‘Initially, I did not have exposure to the consultancy and development sector organisations in my country, so it took me quite a while to understand that these organisations were more suited to my relevant field.’
Muhammad Umar Mukhtar, 2013 Scholar from Pakistan
Short online courses
The British Council have created the short online courses, Preparing for Work and How to Succeed in the Global Workplace, which are designed to help you build your employability skills and succeed in the workplace.
‘When I returned from my Professional Fellowship, I had the idea of starting HR clinics at my workplace. I wrote a concept paper on how the HR clinics would be conducted and how they would improve human resource management. I needed some financial resources to train my colleagues and other heads of department and sensitise them on the new idea. Unfortunately, this was not granted. I had to be innovative and not let the idea disappear, so I decided to pilot it in one department. When the staff liked it, they spoke well about it during the general staff meeting. As a result, funds were allocated for wider training.
‘I now make sure to have a change management strategy for every innovation I bring on board. People want results and sometimes those results necessitate changes to the way we do things, but they may not be prepared to accept this change. I would not rush into introducing my innovations before changing the mindset. When people are not prepared, they will most likely resist that change, however good the innovation may be.’
James Wasagami, 2017 Professional Fellow from Uganda
Explore the potential of social enterprises
You may be interested in starting your own social enterprise to advocate for positive social change. 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.
Understanding how to assess and evaluate the impact of intervention is an important part of monitoring its success and making informed decisions on future developments. BetterEvaluation has developed guidance on impact evaluation and approaches.
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.
‘Returning Scholars who are not given the enabling environment to bring their knowledge and experience to bear should not be discouraged or unhappy. Keep hands-on, do something personal that will lead to self-progress. Seek other means of putting into practice what was learned and if the opportunity lends itself, develop others.’
Margaret Akpomi, 2007 Academic Fellow from Nigeria