What's your job about?
Project Everest Ventures runs social impact projects in developing countries, focused around incubating sustainable businesses that deliver mutually beneficial products and services to our stakeholders. We believe in validating our projects in these countries so that we know exactly what issues these communities face, and how we can tailor our projects to meet their needs directly. Who is it that works on these projects? Us. The students. We are able to gain valuable experience working on these projects, utilising our skills and knowledge to extend these projects further whilst developing ourselves both professionally and personally.
In the country I worked, Malawi, PEV runs a variety of projects - every country PEV operates in runs projects specific to what the communities need. I worked on 2 different projects over 2 months: Solar Consulting and Med-Tech. Solar Consulting aims to enable communities, driving the transition from needing candles and kerosene to a sustainable source of energy through a household solar kit. Med-Tech aims to alleviate the stress on the overburdened Malawian healthcare system, by creating more efficient patient data systems accessible to all through mobile technology. Even though these projects are different in their objectives, at their core they are very much alike. They focus on design thinking and ensure that what we do as a project provides the most impact to the beneficiaries.
On a daily basis, we engage with communities, empathising and learning what it is they need to drive sustainable development. We test our prototypes and collect data to measure the impact they deliver, seeing if this is the viable solution. All of this is supplemented with workshops run by PEV, which include developing our pitching, leadership and business understandings to ensure that we have the highest impact on these projects and beyond.
What's your background?
I grew up on the eastern suburbs of Sydney. I am a first-generation Australian; my parents migrated here from Ukraine and Russia, and I believe that due to this I was able to grow up with an interesting perspective on the world: one where I am able to view cultures and values with an added layer of understanding. I’ve had many important stages of my life thus far; some have been extremely difficult to get through and some have given me the greatest of highs. I always say that life isn’t just about the good times, it’s a combination of these highs and lows which equally move you forward and take you to new heights. I think it was this that lead me to always want to excel in everything I do and take on all opportunities thrown my way.
One important stage in life for me was the transition from high school to university, where I really felt the enormity that is life. I had this overwhelming feeling that I needed to start establishing myself as an individual. I naturally drifted from school friends and slowly developed new friendships at uni. It also led me to sign up with Project Everest Ventures. The idea of travelling and gaining uni credit was too good to be true, and boy did I underestimate how this experience would do much more than that.
After following their recruitment process and trekking [interning] in Malawi for two months over the June/July uni break in 2019, I applied for two pathway opportunities. The first, a position I’ve held for 6 months now, involves being a member of the recruitment team. I love having the ability to give other students the opportunity that had such an immense impact on my life. The second is the opportunity to lead a social impact project myself. This involves undergoing a rigorous immersion period and workshop blocks, something that I have been accepted for and am planning to undertake this upcoming September.
I do not feel overwhelmed by the need to establish myself anymore. Through this journey, I’ve learnt that the best I can do is take those opportunities and apply myself 100%. By being patient and enjoying life, things have slowly been falling into place and I am truly excited for the future.
Could someone with a different background do your job?
YES! The great thing about working on a PEV project is having a variety of people with different understandings, perspectives and degrees. In fact, I found that it is quite important in ensuring that the projects we are working on see the greatest success. By combining different views and specialisations, we are able to collaborate and develop optimal solutions. I believe the most important characteristics that one should have when it comes to taking on this project is a curiosity to learn, open-mindedness and initiative.
What's the coolest thing about your job?
The people. And I’m not just talking about the amazing and passionate people that you work with. I’m also talking about the incredible people that you will meet while interning. From the local people, you will talk to when picking up some extra-large avocados for breakfast at the marketplace, to the communities you engage with when presenting how to use the solar kits. Everyone has their own story and share similar interests to you, despite your socio-economic situations being entirely different. I still keep in contact with some of the people I met over in Africa, and it is usually them writing to me asking how my life is going. They carry the warmest of hearts and I cannot wait to get myself back there.
What are the limitations of your job?
The organisation is not a charity, rather a social enterprise, and like many things this experience comes with a cost. Fortunately, for many students like myself, we have the ability to gain government loans and grants if a project is recognised as units of credit at your university. I was able to do 20 days of compulsory ‘Engineering Industrial Training’ with PEV, which granted me an OS-HELP loan.
3 pieces of advice for yourself when you were a student...
Since I’m still at university, here are my 3 pieces of advice if I were a first-year again: